By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 0 Comments
Fans of both supply management and proper parliamentary practice take note: the government side sent up Joe Preston this afternoon to attempt to ask the following.
Mr. Speaker, our government has always been a consistent defender of supply management. By contrast, the Liberal Party offers no concrete proof of its position. The Liberals left supply management out of its election platform and constantly votes against measures that benefit our supply managed farmers and all rural Canadians. Could the Minister of Agriculture please inform the House of the most recent example of how the Liberal Party is turning its back on our egg, dairy and poultry farmers?
The Speaker duly ruled this out of order and moved on to the next question.
I have had to rule before that questions to the government have to touch on government areas of responsibility. Asking about the position of another party is not a government area of responsibility.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 8:54 AM - 0 Comments
Paul McLeod finds anonymous complaints about the Speaker’s first year.
Outwardly, opposition MPs say they are disappointed but not surprised by Tuesday’s ruling, but behind the scenes, some members of Parliament are angry. They believe Scheer, Parliament’s judge and referee, is favouring the Conservatives … criticizing the Speaker is deeply taboo. But some opposition MPs say there is a widespread belief he is under the influence of Conservative House Leader Peter van Loan. “He’s got the robes and the ranch, but van Loan makes the rules,” one MP said.
The Speaker has been publicly praised by all sides. If his rulings have been somehow flawed, they should probably be challenged outside Parliament by academics and observers. If MPs feel the Speaker isn’t intervening sufficiently, then MPs should probably look at amending the standing orders to officially provide the Speaker with greater latitude to intervene: that seemed, to me, to be the lesson of Speaker Scheer’s ruling on Elizabeth May’s point of order and it probably applies to Mr. Cotler’s point of order as well. I tend to prefer the idea of a more interventionist Speaker, but that doesn’t, or shouldn’t, absolve the other 307 MPs from the responsibility they have to protecting and honouring the House of Commons.
So far as the refereeing of Question Period is concerned, he has only, so far as I recall, punished one party: the Conservatives, when he took away a question for excessive interruptions. He has also cut off at least a couple of Conservatives when their members’ statement’s strayed into personal attacks. There are a few things that have come up during this sitting that might be addressed when the House returns in the falls—the content of members’ statements, the relevance of questions and the use of responses—but I’ll lay out those suggestions in another post.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 1:39 PM - 0 Comments
While she took a short break from the House this morning, the Green MP and I spoke about C-38 and her point of order. In the process, as you will see, she corrected my own mistaken impression of what yesterday’s intervention sought.
Q: When did you first start to think about moving this point of order?
A: To tell you the truth, last year. If you want to go back to Hansard, my very first question in Question Period, last June, was to Jim Flaherty to ask whether he planned to put forward an omnibus bill with many measures. And the response was no. And I was very relieved and I went to him afterwards and I said, so really, it’s not going to be one of these big ones? Because I hadn’t been in the House obviously—I wrote extensively on it, I read the bills, I blogged about them, in 2009 and 2010, that these were outrageous. So it’s been on my radar for a long time, that under Stephen Harper, obviously omnibus bills have come up before, that’s why there’s a lot of precedent for me to go through in Hansard, but really nothing like this, nothing like the last few years. I actually anticipated that Peter Van Loan might say, as he did yesterday, we’ve had much longer bills. Yeah. But only yours. And not ever challenged. There are no Speaker’s rulings on the omnibus budget bills of 2009, 2010. So the first piece of research that I asked the parliamentary library to do for me last year was on the procedural rules around omnibus budget bills. Because if there had been one last summer and I was so sure there would be one. And then I actually voted for the budget implementation bill last year because it was very clever, it was a series of measures that nobody could be against. It was removing the GST and HST on the sale of poppies to the Canadian Legion and reducing the licensing and fees required to operate a canoe or kayak. I mean, I’m not kidding, it was a bundling together of friendly moves. And it wasn’t unanimously passed, but I did vote for it. This time around, I didn’t expect this, I have to say. Having read the budget, the budget was quite bad enough that I wasn’t thinking, oh, I bet they’ll do worse in the budget implementation bill. Somehow it had receded in my mind. But the research had been done by the parliamentary library. Now, of course, I did substantially more research than the summary I got from the parliamentary library, but at least I had a grounding in the topic. Continue…