By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 0 Comments
After Question Period yesterday, the Government House Leader rose with the defining point of order of our time.
The approach employed by the NDP not only personalizes debate, but it does so in an offensive and inflammatory fashion. Consider what we might expect to hear if the NDP position became the accepted practice in the chamber. If this kind of name-calling is allowed, it would apply not just to ministers and parliamentary secretaries, of course, but to opposition shadow ministers. For example, the hon. member for Halifax, the NDP’s environment critic, could well be referred to as the NDP spokesperson for creating a crippling carbon tax.
According to the NDP, this would be parliamentary language. I do not believe it is. Instead of the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park described as the NDP finance critic, she could instead be called the NDP spokesperson for bigger government and higher taxes, or perhaps the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay could be the spokesperson for unethical interference with independent electoral boundary commissions or, since he changed his vote on the long gun registry, maybe he could be the spokesperson for betraying rural Canadians.
The complaint goes back to March 8, when the New Democrats made reference to “the minister responsible for butchering employment insurance,” which the Conservatives interpreted as an attempt to suggest that was Diane Finley’s actual title. This presents a fairly tricky parsing for the Speaker, I suspect—certainly less obvious than, say, NDP references to Tony Clement as the “Muskoka Minister.” Parsing parliamentary insults is always fun. For instance, I suspect that if the New Democrats had referred to Ms. Finley as “the minister who has been responsible for the butchering of employment insurance” or “the minister who butchered employment insurance” there probably wouldn’t be grounds for a complaint here.
I’m not sure Pierre Poilievre has apologized for referring to Charlie Angus as the “gerrymanderer-in-chief over there.” But perhaps an apology could be part of some kind of armistice agreement between the government and official opposition.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM - 0 Comments
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber considers how to improve the House of Commons.
But since removal of the Cameras in the House is similarly not a viable option, perhaps the methods of covering proceedings should be modified. By allowing the cameras and the microphones to be live only on the person recognized by the Speaker, the result is a highly sanitized version of what is actually going on. Wide angle or even random camera shots would certainly give the public a more realistic display of proceedings including questionable behavior. The advent of camera phones means that a public official’s behavior may be recorded and scrutinized in any public location. Yet, off camera conduct in the House of Commons allows bad behavior to occur with virtual impunity.
But a better solution to improve decorum in the House would be to change the significance of what actually goes on there. A lawyer in a Court of Law would never goof off because he must intently listen to the proceedings in order to prepare his next line of questioning or closing argument. But overreliance on Talking Points in Parliamentary proceedings has made following the previous debate unnecessary and formulating one’s argument essentially non-existent. Reading a prepared text (often prepared by an official) means literacy skills have supplanted actual debating skills.
Moreover, since the votes, almost without exception, break down strictly on party lines, there is even less need for non-participants in the actual debate to follow along. The Whips Office will happily advise them when to stand and how to vote.
Changing the rules that govern TV coverage is within the purview of the House of Commons: although Mr. Rathgeber might have to convince the government side’s deputy House leader, Tom Lukiwski, who, tabling possibly the saddest argument in the history of parliamentary democracy, fretted last year that the current camera angles were showing too many empty seats.
The reading of speeches wouldn’t be so offensive if what was being read wasn’t so seemingly scripted. And scripts would likely be less prevalent if what was being said actually mattered. And the words spoken might matter if the result of the debate wasn’t already determined. And free votes might be more prevalent if party leaders didn’t hold so much power over MPs.
Sooner or later, some MP is going to have to take a real run at the current system and table a bill that amends the Elections Act to remove the requirement that a candidate have the signature of the party leader to run in an election.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 11:31 AM - 0 Comments
The preservation of order and decorum has been a duty of the Speaker since 1867, but the task was never as difficult as in the early years of Confederation. Speakers in that time were regularly confronted with rude and disorderly conduct which they were unable to control. The throwing of paper, books, and other missiles, including firecrackers in one case, combined with the noises Members made imitating cats, making music and generally being loud, made for a very riotous assembly. It was often suggested, not without some truth, that the root of the problem of order and decorum lay in the basement of the Parliament Building, just below the Chamber, where a much-frequented public saloon plied “intoxicating liquors” to Members seeking “refreshment” during the lengthy evening debates.
With time, and with the closing of the bar, the disorderliness of the formative years slowly disappeared. The early twentieth century House was a much more austere and calm place, although in 1913, during the debate on the naval bill, the House very nearly got out of control. Subsequent occasions of turbulence were infrequent and usually occurred in connection with the imposition of closure. Throughout the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and the early 1950s, the House was anything but rowdy. Debates were orderly for the most part and Members were attentive to the rules of decorum. Even unparliamentary expressions, which had often been truly objectionable, took on a decidedly tame complexion. It was not until 1956, during the pipeline debate, that the Speaker again had great difficulty preserving order.
The 1960s, with a succession of minority governments, also proved a challenge. When television was introduced to the House in 1977, decorum initially improved, but the subsequent increased use of unparliamentary expressions and displays, together with the inevitable heckling, soon came to make the Speaker’s task more onerous.
Perhaps the worst scene in modern times occurred in 1980 when closure was moved on a motion to establish a committee to study a constitutional resolution. Several Members, angered by the closure motion, stormed the Chair, demanding to be heard. The resulting disorder on the floor of the House led to the entrance, behind the curtains, of members of the protective staff on the orders of the Sergeant-at-Arms. Speakers Jerome, Sauvé, Francis and Bosley all had to contend with scores of language breaches and other violations of order and decorum. The election by secret ballot of Speaker Fraser on September 30, 1986 initially marked a favourable change in the atmosphere in the House; however he soon faced the same challenges as his predecessors regarding decorum. After a number of serious breaches in 1991, the government brought forward a motion expressing concern over the “lack of decorum and civility” in the House. The motion was debated over three sitting days, but did not lead to a marked improvement. In fact, only days after the motion was introduced, a Member was called to the Bar of the House to be reprimanded for grabbing the Mace. Speaker Fraser also appointed a special advisory group of Members to address the broad question of decorum in the House, particularly language and behaviour that is discriminatory. The group recommended that penalties for indecorous behaviour be increased, but no subsequent action was taken. During their tenures, Speakers Parent and Milliken also had to deal with unparliamentary language and breaches of decorum.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 6:55 PM - 0 Comments
Just before Question Period this afternoon, Costas Menegakis, the Conservative MP for Richmond Hill, stood in his spot along the back row of the government side and lamented for the NDP’s quibbles with a piece of government legislation.
“The NDP has proven once again that they will always put the interests of criminals first,” he reported, his words thus committed to the official record where they will remain in his name for eternity.
Was this uncivil?
A few spots after Mr. Mengakis, it was Ted Opitz’s turn. “Yesterday my NDP colleague from Scarborough Southwest said that his party will offer practical solutions,” explained the Conservative MP who had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court for the honour to stand in this place and say these words. “What he fails to mention is that the NDP solution is a new $21 billion job-killing carbon tax.”
This is mostly ridiculous, but is it uncivil?
Question Period then began. Soon enough, Bob Rae was on his feet, speaking loudly and wagging his finger at the Prime Minister.
“Mr. Speaker, it is clear after the Minister of Finance’s attack on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Mr. Kevin Page, that it is the Prime Minister’s intention to turn the taxpayers’ watchdog into his personal lapdog. That is the plan that the government has,” he declared. “Why is the government having to fire Marty Cheliak, Pat Stogran, Linda Keen, Peter Tinsley, Paul Kennedy, Adrian Measner, Munir Sheikh, Steve Sullivan and Remy Beauregard? Why is the name of Kevin Page being added to this list of people who are being thrown out of the bus because they had an independent opinion about something?”
Was that uncivil? Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM - 0 Comments
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen has now released his proposal for improving decorum in the House. Here is the motion he hopes to put before the House.
That the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to recommend changes to the Standing Orders, procedures and practices to increase the authority of the Speaker in order to impose disciplinary measures against Members who use harassment, threats, personal attacks, or extreme misrepresentation of facts or position in the House, particularly regarding Statements by Members and Oral Questions, including:
i. Revoking questions during Oral Questions from parties whose Members have been disruptive
ii. Issuing a warning to Members for a first offense
iii. Suspending Members from the service of the House for one sitting day for a second offense; five days for a third offense; and twenty days for a fourth offense
iv. Suspending Members’ sessional allowance for the duration of their suspension from the service of the House
And that the Committee report its findings to the House within six months of the adoption of this order.
The penalties are an interesting touch, but ultimately this will come down to a discussion of where to draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and that gets tricky very quickly (what constitutes an “extreme misrepresentation of the facts” and who will judge that?). Which is not to say that discussion shouldn’t be had. It should be and it will be valuable and I look forward to hearing it.
This is similar, in method, to what Michael Chong proposed for QP reform: charging a committee with studying the issue around certain parameters and suggesting changes. To get the sort of debate, consideration and buy-in from other MPs that is going to be necessary to make changes to the standing orders, this is probably a reasonable way to go about it (as opposed to simply using a private member’s bill to propose changes).
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
During his discussion with reporters Wednesday afternoon about decorum, Nathan Cullen was asked which Conservatives he was referring to. And the NDP leader identified two by surname.
Who are they? Well, some of them have been admonished by the Speaker and will continue to be. Some of them get admonished by their whip, twice, three times a week. I think what they get away with is the fact that their constituents don’t know about it, right. So if you look at Mr. Calandra or Mr. Watson, I’m sure they go home on the weekends and talk to their constituents about how hard they’re working, but never mention the fact that mostly what they do is try to disrupt the House and are offensive, basically offensive. I dare them to do that in any of the school visits they do or any of the church stuffs that they do in their regular touring around the riding. They don’t act that way. Why do they act that way here? Well, I guess it’s a certain frustration of their actual limitations of influence on the role of this government. So it’s no excuse, so not at all.
I’m not sure how often I’ve ever heard Paul Calandra shout something. There was some kind of exchange on Tuesday between Mr. Calandra, Mr. Cullen and Thomas Mulcair after Mr. Calandra, I believe, said something during Murray Rankin’s first question. Mr. Watson is, to my ear and recollection, a more frequent heckler. He had his own welcome for Mr. Rankin.
I emailed both Mr. Calandra and Mr. Watson to ask if either wished to respond to Mr. Cullen’s comments.
Mr. Calandra responds as follows. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Before the House rose last night for Christmas, the Speaker delivered a statement on decorum.
As the House prepares to adjourn for the Christmas holidays, the Chair would like to make a short statement about order and decorum.
In recent months, for a variety of reasons, the atmosphere in the chamber has been at times difficult. This is perhaps not surprising since the House is made up of members who are committed and whose strongly held views are freely expressed on a daily basis.
The House is also an inherently adversarial forum that tends to foster conflict. As a result, sometimes emotions get the better of us and we quickly find ourselves in situations marked by disorderly conduct. Tone and gestures can cause as much of a reaction as the words used in debate. Lately, it appears that at different times the mood of the House has strayed quite far from the flexibility, accommodation and balance that ideally ought to exist in this place.
My task as Speaker is to ensure that the intensity of feeling expressed around some issues is contained within the bounds of civility without infringing on the freedom of speech that members enjoy. The Chair tries to ensure that our rules are adhered to in a way that encourages mutual respect.
However, all members will recognize that ultimately the Speaker must depend on their collective self-discipline to maintain order and to foster decorum. My authority to enforce the rules depends on the co-operation of the House.
Our electors expect all members to make greater efforts to curb disorder and unruly behaviour. So I urge all members to reflect on how best to return the House to the convivial, co-operative atmosphere I know all of us would prefer.
After QP, NDP House leader Nathan Cullen was asked about the role of the Speaker and Mr. Cullen suggested he might have something to propose in the new year.
I’m going to look to do something in the new year that will empower the Speaker with the support again of the House, because I think this is supported by Canadians, to be able to command the House even more and for all the heckling and the jostling and the sneering that goes on which is not representative of Canadian values, as far as I’m—Canadians don’t talk to each other this way, in any other circumstance, other than here in the House of Commons. Maybe in the cheap seats of a hockey game, but that’s about it and the House of Commons should be better than the drunken seats at a sporting event. So we’ll be offering some things to the Speaker and to the House to allow him more discretion and more power to control some of the members, but it’s like any class in a school. There’s only 5 or 10% that cause all of the trouble and I can name them for you. We know who they all are and the Conservatives know who they are too and just—this is their only lot in life I guess now, is that they’re not going to get into cabinet, they’re not getting any special appointments and they’re not very good at their job. So what do they do? They sit there and bark all day and it says a lot more about them than it does us.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 5:08 PM - 0 Comments
After QP today, Paul Dewar, who can be seen on the video walking over to intervene, explained to reporters what, from his perspective, happened between Peter Van Loan, Nathan Cullen and Thomas Mulcair.
It was very simple. Mr. Van Loan was saying some things at his desk and then he started across the aisle and he was looking very aggressive and he was wagging his finger and continued to say some very aggressive things and threats and that was unprompted and unbecoming any member of the House, let alone a House Leader and he continued to do that. I saw him coming across. I could see in his face that he was very upset and in a very aggressive kind of mode and so I’ve seen that before in men and I know it’s the best thing to do is to get people away from each other and that’s what I did.
In terms of his apology, frankly, I think it’s unbecoming a minister or a House Leader. And I’m not sure if I was the Prime Minister I’d still have him as a House Leader. I just—yeah, I don’t know how you can have your House Leader, you know, after a point of order is made, behave like that. And that was entirely something he did. No one else did anything. No one said a word to him. It was totally unprompted. He did it all by himself. So the only person who should be apologizing and maybe taking a timeout for a while is Minister Van Loan, no one else.
He was then asked if Mr. Mulcair said anything inappropriate.
He said something that I think most people would say and is that don’t threaten my House Leader and that was totally appropriate.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Before yesterday’s incident, the most recent confrontation in the House might have been when Conservative MP Royal Galipeau confronted Liberal MP David McGuinty. A couple weeks before that, Liberal MP Anita Neville and Conservative MP James Bezan seem to have had an an acrimonious encounter of some sort as well.
Further back in history are a few more colourful incidents.
On the afternoon of February 4, 1997, Reform MP Darrel Stinson challenged Liberal MP John Cannis to a fight in the House.
On April 15, 1999, Liberal MP Steve Mahoney accused Mr. Stinson of challenging him to a fight outside the House.
And on April 17, 2002, Keith Martin briefly seized the ceremonial mace. A lengthy debate on the incident followed a few days later. Mr. Martin was ultimately forced to appear at the bar of the House and apologize.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin talks about his new gig.
“I can tell you, there’s times that I’ll be sitting on the chair – and I have to say it comes from both sides of the house – where somebody would be up saying something and in my mind I’d be saying, ‘That’s not right. That is factually not correct.’ Or ideologically or philosophically, I just don’t agree with that. And I want to say something, but of course I can’t.”
Comartin said his ultimate goal is to increase the decorum significantly in the house and bring about more civility. “I am quite determined – as is the Speaker – to speed up the changes that need to be made in the house to have more decorum,” said Comartin. “It’s just damaging to democracy and it’s certainly damaging to the reputation of politicians.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 28, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
While in opposition from 2003 to 2006, we found that quite often our very last MP’s statement (the one just before Question Period started) was quoted in the media the next day. Simply put the media had arrived in the House for Question Period and they were paying attention to comments from the MPs. SO 31s delivered earlier in the sequence were largely ignored by the press.
Opposition parties are always looking for ways to get into the media and this became one way to do it. The added bonus was that the then Liberal Prime Minister had no way to respond to what was said. By putting a slight edge to the attack in the SO 31, you could unsettle the PM and distract him just before the Leader of the Opposition stood to ask the first of a series of 3 to 5 questions. Over time we began to use the last of our SO 31s as the equivalent to a question in Question Period especially when it was delivered by one of our attack dogs. The SO 31 allowed one minute of time to stand, while a question only allowed 34 seconds. That one minute statement also allowed more time to drive home our message than any question could. The added advantage for us was the Prime Minister had no way to reply but had to sit and take it.
He concludes it’s now time to change the rules.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 10:27 PM - 0 Comments
So Jason Kenney has apologized, but not before Kevin Lamoureux managed to get “asshole” on the permanent House record. When that word appears in Hansard tomorrow it will be the first time it has appeared there since March 4, 1999.
On that day, a young Reform MP was reported to have uttered the word in reference to his Progressive Conservative peers. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
As he prepares for the most important week of his speakership to date, here is a piece from last week’s magazine on Speaker Andrew Scheer.
Herein lies the riddle of civility. Rote partisanship is not against the rules. And even if the House may be somewhat more quiet of late, it is still a place of debate, competition and conflict. Asserting oneself as Speaker is thus a complicated task. “One of the toughest things about being Speaker is it’s never the same. You’re not calling balls and strikes on a definite strike zone. Every day is different. The mood can be different,” Scheer says. “Sometimes the House needs the Speaker to come right in and nip something in the bud. And other days you need to let a little bit of steam out of the valve and it might go away on its own. So I think it’s difficult for any Speaker to say on day one, ‘here’s where all of the lines are,’ because those lines shift. The House is dynamic, it’s constantly changing, the mood is constantly changing. So I’ve kind of got to use my own judgment and my own instinct to get a sense of where that’s going and try to react.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM - 0 Comments
The NDP’s new House leader and I chatted on Tuesday about decorum, Question Period reform and the budget implementation act.
Q: On this issue of decorum, because it gets so bogged down in what people mean by that, are you talking about heckling? Are you talking about comments made during questions, during answers? Are you talking about personal attacks? When you talk about decorum, what do you mean?
A:Yeah, all these things are rolled into one. I wanted to start with what I hoped was the easiest piece, which is when groups of MPs refuse to be quiet, where the Speaker has asked them a couple times and they’re just carrying on like a bunch of drunken frat boys. That we publicly give the Speaker the authority to start taking questions away as a form of punishment. Because one group of MPs will goad another group into it and then soon you just have total chaos. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with a hard-hitting question, there’s nothing wrong with the odd comment coming from a member. Sometimes they’re very funny. I mean a Conservative yesterday said, I’m going to hold my breath until the Liberal party gets better, and of course there was some back and forth across the aisle with me and Baird or the leader, because it was a funny thing to say, right? Because he’s going to hold his breath forever and that’s the joke. I’m not looking to cut into that. That actually helps relationships. What we’re talking about is when this sort of mob mentality takes over. You tend to get those really personal attacks and insults in those moments. So I think one leads to the other, but I’m not presenting this as a silver bullet. I think this is a culture that we’ve created and to shift it we need to start to change the trend lines. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
In yesterday’s sketch, I suggested that Ms. May had violated the House’s prohibition against props when she held aloft a copy of the budget bill as she detailed her question of the government. Ms. May wrote me today to tell me I was wrong. Specifically she cites the following sentence in a footnote to the rules explained by the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
Speaker Milliken ruled that “a document that has been recently tabled in the House and is being quoted by Members or used as the basis for either an answer or a question may sometimes be lifted up, pointed at or even quoted from” (Debates, November 4, 2005, pp. 9531-2).
My apologies to Ms. May. And the budget bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 9:19 AM - 0 Comments
In light of the latest call for civility in the House of Commons, here is what I wrote the last time the issue was raised.
Meanwhile, Steve Murray puts forward a real plan for reform (and by “real,” I mean “includes puppies”).
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 19, 2011 at 3:14 PM - 0 Comments
Joe Comartin would like to empower the Speaker somehow to better sort out the unruly.
Mr. Comartin, meanwhile, told The Globe he believes Mr. Scheer’s rulings show he is acting independently but needs more clout. The Windsor New Democrat said the two powers the Speaker now has are either to refuse to recognize an MP or throw him or her out of the Commons. “That’s just not a broad enough way of enforcing discipline,” Mr. Comartin said.
He says through private members bills or opposition day motions, the NDP wants to debate and study how the Speaker can be given “more authority, more clear authority to be able to bring into line recalcitrant members and having the authority to discipline them in a greater variety of ways that we have now.”
I was watching a session of Prime Minister’s Questions a few months back and I saw the Speaker twice cut off the Prime Minister when he thought David Cameron was straying from the question asked. That seemed to me to be a neat trick.
So far as enforcing decorum, I’m not sure if I can see how a Speaker might be better positioned to maintain calm. (Does he need more than the threat of silence or expulsion?) Or perhaps I’m not convinced that excessive heckling is the problem here. (Would a House without heckling be inherently and practically better than what we have now?) Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 5:01 PM - 8 Comments
After QP today, the Bloc’s Andre Bellavance rose to ask that Conservative MP Jim Hillyer apologize to the House for his gestures several weeks ago during a vote on the long-gun registry. Mr. Hillyer duly stood and clarified his gestures had nothing to do with the Montreal Massacre, but that he was “sorry, not just that this has been misinterpreted but misrepresented to be at all associated with the tragic events at École Polytechnique 22 years ago.”
The NDP’s Francoise Boivin and Bob Rae rose to add their remarks, both referencing the Speaker’s ruling yesterday. Then Gordon O’Connor, the government whip, stood and apologized. And then Mr. Hillyer stood again.
With everyone in the House seemingly dissatisfied with the situation, the Speaker declared the matter closed.
Here’s a transcript. Continue…
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, November 28, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 38 Comments
Andrew Coyne on an institution that’s largely irrelevant and increasingly impotent
This year’s Parliamentarians of the Year awards were, as ever, a grand occasion, and while I’d quibble with one or two choices, the recipients were all deserving enough. The premise of the event is a good one: there are decent, conscientious people in politics who take Parliament seriously and treat each other with respect, and it is worth recognizing them, if only to encourage others to follow their example.
Yet it was hard to escape a certain rage-against-the-darkness feeling about the whole thing. We can point to this or that exemplary individual, but it does not change the reality that Parliament is dying. Largely irrelevant, increasingly impotent, it is treated with contempt by those in power, matched only by the indifference of the general public.
The institution is caught in a death spiral, wherein each new assault on its prerogatives makes the argument for the next. The more degraded it becomes, the harder it is to rally people to its defence: it’s only Parliament, after all. So even after an unprecedented seven invocations of “time allocation”—a politer form of closure—to cut off debate in as many weeks, it wasn’t until Pat Martin’s foul-mouthed outburst on Twitter last Wednesday that the press gallery, who are paid to pay attention, could rouse themselves to make an issue of it. But their enthusiasm soon passed. All it took was last Thursday’s question period: by common consent the worst in years. Who, in all seriousness, could mount a defence of Parliament’s right to debate who had actually watched Parliament in debate?
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 7, 2011 at 1:10 PM - 38 Comments
Peter Milliken reflects on his time as Speaker.
Ultimately, the Speaker is left to attempt to curb the worst of any excesses, to uphold the rules insofar as this is possible—for example, to ensure that the time limits applicable to questions and answers are strictly adhered to—and to strive to do this in an unbiased and impartial fashion. The toleration of some indecorous behaviour is preferable to creating the impression that the Speaker is intervening in a partial or partisan fashion. Neither can the Speaker be seen to interfere with or arbitrarily to obstruct the legitimate questioning of government Ministers.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 2:59 PM - 7 Comments
Another in our episodic consideration of the House of Commons.
Watching Prime Minister’s Questions this last little while, one notices a few things.
First, David Cameron’s looking a bit rough.
Second, there is, even in the rarefied air of the mother Parliament, plenty of muttering, howling, chuckling, grumbling, mumbling and mocking.
Third, there’s no clapping.
By Aaron Wherry and macleans.ca - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 12 Comments
He said, “a lot of backbenchers feel useless and this is one of the areas in which they can vent their frustrations and pretend to be useful.” We have also seen that when MPs are unable to get relevant answers from Ministers, they often respond by heckling. Further, the relatively low amount of attention paid to government backbenchers by Cabinet may also contribute to some MPs’ desire to heckle as a means to attract attention, if not from the executive, at least from the media.