By Aaron Wherry - Monday, March 25, 2013 - 0 Comments
Two years ago, the procedure and House affairs committee voted to find the Harper government in contempt for its refusal to provide costing analysis for some of its major initiatives.
Last fall, the Harper government refused to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with information about the government’s spending cuts.
And three weeks ago, Conservative MPs on the public accounts committee decided they didn’t want to see the government’s reports on fiscal sustainability.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister says he doesn’t know how much his increase in tariffs will end up costing consumers.
But, last week, several Conservative MPs submitted order paper questions asking the government to provide costing analysis for several private members’ bills proposed by NDP MPs.
It is perhaps useful here to recall Brent Rathgeber’s words about the job of a government backbencher.
I understand that Members of Parliament, who are not members of the executive, sometimes think of themselves as part of the government; we are not. Under our system of Responsible Government, the Executive is responsible and accountable to the Legislature. The latter holds the former to account. A disservice is provided to both when Parliament forgets to hold the Cabinet to account.
Perhaps Merv Tweed, Ted Opitz, Randy Hoback, Kelly Block and Wladyslaw Lizon could use their next order paper questions to ask for the government’s fiscal sustainability reports or demand a costing analysis of the tariff increases. (Perhaps they could refuse to vote on the budget until such information is provided.) Perhaps they could submit order paper questions demanding exactly the information that Kevin Page is seeking. Or perhaps they could join together to propose that the Parliamentary Budget Officer be given the resources necessary to analyze all private members’ bills, thus saving the government the time and expense.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 4:41 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of tonight’s C-38 votes. It was expected that voting would begin around 5:30pm, but some procedural fussing about by the Liberals seems to have delayed those votes by a few hours. Stay tuned throughout the evening (and morning?) as we follow the parliamentary festivities.
4:43pm. If you’re only now tuning in, you just missed a fascinating series of points of order, during which Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux twice asked the Speaker to clarify the rules of the House (Speaker Devolin invited Mr. Lamoureux to read the standing orders) and Bob Rae objected to the Defence Minister’s earlier use of the word “mendaciousness” (Peter MacKay duly stood and withdrew the remark). The House is now at the time reserved each day for the presenting of petitions and will soon move to the final period of report stage debate on C-38.
4:51pm. The New Democrats held a photo op this afternoon to demonstrate how they were preparing for tonight’s votes. Mostly this seems to have involved Nathan Cullen removing his jacket and writing “C-38″ on a giant white pad of paper.
5:04pm. The Liberals have chosen now to discuss Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. And now there is some discussion between the Speaker, Elizabeth May and Denis Coderre about how long one can speak when responding to a question of privilege.
5:15pm. With Mr. Lamoureux still responding to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege, Conservative MP Bob Zimmer rises on a point of order to question Mr. Lamoureux’s point of privilege. The Speaker stands and reads the rules pertaining to questions of privilege, specifically that such interventions should be “brief and concise” and that the Speaker has the right to “terminate” the discussion. Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti rises on a point of order to object to Mr. Zimmer’s point of order. Mr. Lamoureux attempts a point of order to respond to Mr. Zimmer, but the Speaker suggests he carry on with his point of privilege, but then Mr. Coderre rises on a point of order to complain about the Speaker’s desire to move things along. The Speaker asserts his impartiality and attempts to straighten this all out, but Mr. Coderre rises on another point of order to clarify his respect for the Speaker, but also to express his desire that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to give a full response to Mr. Cullen’s point of privilege. Mr. Pacetti rises on a point of order to add his concern that Mr. Lamoureux be allowed to speak fully. The Speaker says he was merely reminding everyone of the rules and gives Mr. Lamoureux five minutes to finish and, finally, we’re now back to Mr. Lamoruex’s point of privilege.
5:30pm. The Speaker stands and calls an end to Mr. Lamoureux’s remarks and attempts to move to the last hour of report stage debate on C-38, but now Mauril Belanger is up on a separate point of privilege.
5:32pm. The Speaker cuts off Mr. Belanger to move to deferred votes on two opposition motions and one private member’s bill. MPs have 30 minutes to report to the chamber.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 9:06 AM - 0 Comments
The International Association of Firefighters arrived in Ottawa and held a reception at the…
The International Association of Firefighters arrived in Ottawa and held a reception at the Delta Hotel.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM - 44 Comments
Greetings from the press gallery of the House of Commons, where we will shortly commence with live coverage of the 41st Parliament’s Speaker election. MPs are presently filing into the chamber, acquainting and reacquainting themselves with each other. The proceedings will commence around 11 o’clock.
There are presently eight candidates seeking the post: Dean Allison, Barry Devolin, Ed Holder, Lee Richardson, Denise Savoie, Andrew Scheer, Bruce Stanton and Merv Tweed. Officially, Justin Trudeau will appear on the first ballot, but that is owing to his having not notified the clerk in time that he did not wish to be in the running (MPs must officially opt out of the Speaker’s election).
Very shortly the Usher of the Black Rod will arrive to inform the House that its collective presence is required at the Senate. The Speaker of the Senate will then inform the House that it should choose a Speaker if it wishes to proceed with business. The House will reconvene and Louis Plamondon, as the longest serving MP in the House, will take the chair. The candidates for Speaker will then be called to stand and briefly state their respective cases. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM - 5 Comments
The NDP’s Denise Savoie has officially entered the race to be the next Speaker of the House. From the news release:
“I’m running for Speaker with a singular focus on raising the tone and quality of debate in Parliament, to restore the trust that Canadians deserve to have in their politicians and democratic institutions,” said Savoie.
As Assistant Deputy Speaker in the last Parliament Savoie launched a number of explicitly non-partisan initiatives aimed at fostering constructive and informed discussion on important topics, including workshops on climate change and the first all-party Parliamentary Arts Caucus. “I’m asking my fellow MPs to imagine a Parliament that functions well – where debate is not focused on scoring points, but rather on creating better, more inclusive public policy,” said Savoie.
As a fluently bilingual Franco-Manitoban who has lived in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and now in British Columbia, Savoie brings a pan-Canadian perspective to the Speaker’s Chair.
Of the seven MPs who are now in the race—Savoie, Andrew Scheer, Lee Richardson, Ed Holder, Barry Devolin, Merv Tweed and Dean Allison—five voted in favour of Michael Chong’s motion on Question Period reform. Mr. Scheer was in the Speaker’s chair at the time of the vote and Mr. Holder’s vote was paired.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM - 29 Comments
The Canadian Press widens the current field to replace Peter Milliken as Speaker to six MPs, all of them Conservatives.
Ever-cheerful Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, who has worked alongside Peter Milliken as deputy speaker and assistant deputy speaker, is again trying his luck. He’s also the only functionally bilingual candidate among the Conservative MPs in the running. The NDP has said it believes the Speaker should be bilingual. ”I think back in 2004 I was quite the heckler, quite the partisan guy, and spending so many years in the chair has really taught me the importance of impartiality for the chair occupants but also a better personal understanding of what motivates other members of other parties,” said Scheer, who turns 31 on the weekend. ”(It’s) the idea that while you certainly might believe that your ideas and your policies are the best for Canada, not to take anything away from the opposition MPs who truly do want the same thing that you want — for Canada to be the best country in the world.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 2:29 PM - 4 Comments
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance held a reception at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa….
The Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance held a reception at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa. Below, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance Executive Director Ruth Salmon.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 3 Comments
The National Arts Centre hosted Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates dinner to raise funds for…
The National Arts Centre hosted Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates dinner to raise funds for the Canadian Olympic Foundation. Local chefs prepared special meals and high profile Olympians attended including Alexandre Bilodeau (below), the first Canadian to win gold on Canadian soil.
Labour Minister Lisa Raitt.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 12:12 PM - 13 Comments
Michael Chong’s motion on Question Period reform is seconded by no less than 20 MPs. Those seconders include 14 Conservatives (Mike Allen, Dona Cadman, Maxime Bernier, Larry Miller, Gord Brown, Nina Grewal, James Rajotte, John Cummins, Peter Braid, Rick Casson, Greg Thompson, Merv Tweed, Brian Storseth and Bruce Stanton), four Liberals (Frank Valeriote, Martha Hall Findlay, Glen Pearson and Siobhan Coady) and two New Democrats (Denise Savoie and Brian Masse).
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, May 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM - 4 Comments
MPs from all parties joined the long lineup on the Hill to pay homage…
MPs from all parties joined the long lineup on the Hill to pay homage to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champ and Quebec native Georges St-Pierre. He was invited to the Hill by Heritage Minister James Moore. Below, left to right, Moore, St-Pierre and NDP MP Glenn Thibeault.
Treasury Board President Stockwell Day with St-Pierre.
Liberal MPs Navdeep Bains (left) and Justin Trudeau duke it out.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 7:43 PM - 3 Comments
Some months ago, the Prime Minister spoke to the nation in sorrowful tones. Parliament, he mourned, was a disgrace. A blight upon our nation that desperately needed change. The sort of change that is only achievable through democracy.
So charged, voters promptly elected a Parliament of roughly the same standing, with each of the four party leaders (at least until May) in place. And having heard that message of change, that Parliament promptly chose the same Speaker who had presided over its previous incarnation.
Anyway. For the record, the first heckling of the 40th Parliament was heard before said Speaker had even been chosen—various Conservative members growling at Liberal Mauril Belanger, who dared during his speech to suggest that the next Speaker might limit the ability of MPs to mail out partisan flyers at public expense.
Herein, a collection of the day’s more solemn tributes to democratic responsibility. Continue…
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 9:00 AM - 175 Comments
The Election of the Speaker – and of course ITQ will be liveblogging it. Wild horses with bees in their mouths couldn’t keep us away.
Oh my goodness, y’all, Parliament is back! Okay, not *officially* — not until either later this morning, or tomorrow afternoon at 2pm, depending on when you start counting — and believe me, that question has been the source of no small amount of debate in the Hot Room. But when I rolled into Centre Block a few minutes ago, I was greeted by the peal of the bells, which brought on such a wave of nostalgia that I had to restrain myself from doing a little jig on the spot, which would have almost certainly gotten me flagged by security.
I’m in the Chamber, by the way — which, at the moment, is offiically just a big room with drab drapery, since the Mace isn’t on the Table, and I don’t think the day has officially begun. That hasn’t stopped MPs from pouring in from the foyer – those that haven’t been trapped by reporters demanding to know who they plan to support, at least. From where I’m sitting, I can see Joe Comartin working the crowd – he’s shaking hands with someone I don’t recognize on the government side of the House – but he’s the only candidate in sight at the moment. Amongst the rest of the throng currently milling behind the curtains and in the centre aisle, there is much shaking of hands, patting of backs and what sound like entirely expressions of delight at seeing each other for the first time in months – at least, for some of them.
Oh, there’s Mauril Belanger, who just gave a Gallic but somehow humble shrug to an unseen person somewhere just outside of my viewing range. (I’m in the press gallery behind the Speaker’s Chair, to his right – so, closer to the government than the opposition.)
The room is really filling up now — and so are the galleries, but I should point out that there is a very important ritual that has to take place before the vote begins: the MPs have to flock down the hall, en masse, to the Senate to officially receive their marching orders from the Governor General, who will ask them to elect a Speaker before she can deliver the Speech from the Throne, whereupon they all walk back. It’s alternately known as the Running of the Bulls or the Herding of the Cats, depending on how exuberant and/or recalcitrant the Commonsers are on any given day.
Oh, Gordon O’Connor. What an enigma your decision to run in the last election continues to be. Bob Rae is already in full Avuncular Uncle (But Don’t Push Him Because He’ll Destroy You In Debate) Mode. Scott Brison is being kissed – European-style, both cheeks – by a BQ MP, and Michael Ignatieff is looking shorter than I remember, which always happens when you’re away from them for a while, like preteen second cousins – except they get smaller, not bigger.
Okay, the room is settling down, and the Clerk reads the Proclamation from the Governor General – actually, the GG’s secretary, but never mind that, and sits back down, at which point the Sgt-at-Arms – who seems to be worried that he’s forgotten how to do his ceremonial duty – opens the door for the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod – who really does look like a character out of Tenniel, I should note; a good pick for that very reason – who proceeds to invite the MPs “to attend the Governor General in the Chamber of the Senate” – like, nowish. Some burbling from the crowd, and the Table Officers get to put on their special goin’-to-Senate hats, and they’re off.
Man, I’ve missed this.
And now, I shall tattle on the MPs who are just too *cool* to walk down the hall:
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 9:38 AM - 14 Comments
With Andrew Scheer officially throwing his bicorn associate deputy speaker’s hat into the ring, we now have at least five MPs vying for the chance to sit in the Big Chair, which may actually be a Canadian parliamentary record for a race in which the incumbent Speaker is running for reelection, although I’m sure someone will correct me in the comment if that’s wrong. (I mean actively vying, not just those who will leave their names on the list out of forgetfulness, or just for kicks.)
So, leaving aside the needlessly complicated conspiracy theory that it’s all a cunning Conservative plot to retake the riding of Kingston and the Islands, who would ITQ readers most like to see don the robes and attempt to bring about order in the House? Merv Tweed, who has “continuously been faced with the honourable task of being fair, neutral, and open to debate” during his tenure as committee chair? His fellow former committee chair Barry Devolin, who pledges to do “whatever is necessary to make House proceedings civil and constructive”? The NDP’s Joe Comartin – so far, the only opposition MP to challenge Milliken for the job – who has “consistently strived to be well-informed, fair, and just”? If you got a ballot next Tuesday, who would you pick?
By kadyomalley - Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 1:08 PM - 17 Comments
Let the …. uh, illustration of desire begin:
From: Tweed, Merv – M.P.
Sent: November 6, 2008 1:00 PM
To: Tweed, Merv – M.P.
Subject: Speaker of the House of Commons/Président de la Chambre des communes
I write to you today to illustrate my desire to run for Speaker of the House of Commons.
I fully believe that my past experience at the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government has prepared me for the challenges, responsibilities, and demands associated with this position. Having served as the provincial Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and federally as the Chair of the Standing Committee of Transport, I have continuously been faced with the honourable task of being fair, neutral, and open to debate. I assure you that I will bring the same characteristics to the role of Speaker.
The House of Commons is a place of dignity and respect and deserves stability and order. It is my view that over the last several years the level of debate and decorum in our great institution has suffered. Should I be entrusted with the role as Speaker of the House of Commons, rest assure I will strive to ensure that all Members of Parliament demonstrate equality and integrity, while respecting the traditions and raising the level of debate in the House of Commons.
It would be a privilege to work with you in this capacity. Should you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to call my Parliamentary office.
On November 18th, I would sincerely appreciate your support.
Merv Tweed, MP
Your move, Andrew Scheer et al.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 6:52 PM - 8,237 Comments
The Government of Canada appeals directly to your most juvenile impulses
The Scene. Question Period had begun and Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh was asking the government to account for the unwieldy matter of Julie Couillard and the upright citizens brigade in the Conservative back row was displeased.
“No one cares!” lamented Dean Del Mastro.
“Let’s talk about policy!” pleaded Ed Fast.
Just moments earlier, their seatmate, the reliably obedient Rick Dykstra, had tried to do just that. Here, from his member statement, was his take on environmental taxation, the politics and practicalities of distributing wealth across civil and economic lines and how best the federal government can balance short-term necessities with long-term social sustainability.
“There is an old saying that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” Dykstra reported, “but if the leader of the opposition formed government, if he imposed a carbon tax, our country would face a wall of darkness.”