By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 26, 2013 - 0 Comments
There was some anger, to be sure, but there was just as much guffawing and as many furrowed brows over the wish of these MPs to discuss abortion … These MPs wished to discuss an issue that their party leadership and the media have deemed out of bounds. Rather than defend the rights of MPs to bring their views into debate and to eventually have them put to a vote, we are subjected to commentary that the prime minister needs to exercise more control over his caucus. We are told that MPs should be allowed to speak, but perhaps not on this issue. What other issues are off limits remains to be seen.
MPs come to Ottawa understanding that they serve at the pleasure of their leader. Those same leaders act virtually free of constraints. When MPs assert their rights, it is portrayed as a party in disarray and as leaders losing control when in fact it is actually parliamentary democracy in action. Acknowledging that MPs can rise to their feet and be recognized to speak without their party’s approval is surely a gain for our Parliament. But it will move our democracy only an inch rather than a mile if we do not equally free MPs from the things that keep them off their feet.
Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber says he intends to stand.
I have been asked by several media outlets whether I intend to avail myself to this reestablished opportunity. The answer is “yes,” though I have not yet done so. The reason (and I believe the reason is important to an understanding as to why we have noticed only incremental change in the operation of the House) for this is that a rediscovered right or opportunity should not be deployed capriciously or in a cavalier manner. I did not advocate for a Member’s ability to speak freely just so that Members could speak merely to hear the sound of their own voices. They should reserve the opportunity and indeed the privilege to speak in the House to occasions when they have something substantial to say.
But Members must avail themselves of that ability to attempt to be recognized on occasions when that Member has something important to say, because the right to speak freely in this House was not so much taken away by the leadership as it was voluntarily ceded. So it is up to us now…
Peter calls the Speaker’s ruling a “hollow” victory. I think it’s probably more accurately described as a small victory—one that could take on more significance if MPs are willing to make use of it.
The basic problem is an imbalance of power. At present, it is the party leader who possess an overwhelming amount of it. When Mark Warawa stood on a question of privilege, he was openly questioning this dynamic. Nine other government backbenchers followed suit and did likewise. Those acts alone were significant in that they demonstrated a degree of independence and empowerment.
It is possible, I suppose, that someone on the government side had some inkling that simply standing up during the time reserved for statement by members would have allowed MPs to subvert the list prepared by their party whip. Mr. Warawa says he had no idea. Regardless, when the Speaker stood and ruled as he did, it was an official and public acknowledgement and invitation: an important statement from the authority of the Speaker’s throne that the whip and his list do not prevent MPs from performing the physical act of standing. If, as it seemed, Mark Warawa’s subsequent threat to stand without official approval resulted in him being put on the whip’s list, that was a specific victory for Mr. Warawa: a concession from his party’s leaders that they did not wish to be publicly subverted. Going forward, any backbencher who is told he cannot stand and speak, as Mr. Warawa was, can plausibly threaten to stand of his or her own volition.
Of course, the system of incentives—the political and media pressures—that existed before the Speaker’s ruling still exists now. And there is much more that might be done to achieve a more healthy balance between the party leader and the MP, the executive and the legislature. But over the last few weeks, ten government backbenchers stood and asked the Speaker to confirm their rights as individual members of the legislature and the Speaker responded with a public assurance that they could stand at their own discretion. That is a small, but potentially useful, victory.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 3:30 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Andrew Scheer’s ruling on Mark Warawa’s question of privilege.
I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 26 by the Member for Langley (Mr. Warawa) regarding the presentation of a Member’s Statement pursuant to Standing Order 31.
I would like to thank the hon. Member for Langley for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. Chief Government Whip (Mr. O’Connor), the hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition (Mr. Cullen), the hon. House Leader for the Liberal Party (Mr. LeBlanc), and the Members for Vegreville—Wainwright (Mr. Benoit), Saanich—Gulf Islands (Ms. May), Lethbridge (Mr. Hillyer), Winnipeg South (Mr. Bruinooge), Edmonton—St. Albert (Mr. Rathgeber), Brampton West (Mr. Seeback), Kitchener Centre (Mr. Woodworth), New Brunswick Southwest (Mr. Williamson), Wellington—Halton Hills (Mr. Chong), Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Mr. Lemieux), South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale (Mr. Hiebert), Medicine Hat (Mr. Payne), West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country (Mr. Weston), Halifax (Ms. Leslie), and Thunder Bay—Superior North (Mr. Hyer) for their comments.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 11:47 AM - 0 Comments
This wording, if accurate, imports the word “Party” previously absent from the Standing Order; importing the concept of Party seems to run contrary to the stated intent of the Motion, to remove the control and vetting of SO 31s from the Parties. More troubling, the draft seems to infer (or at least is open to the interpretation of) equality of parties. It appears the proposed rotation would be on a Party basis, meaning that all Parties would have equal, not proportional, slots. That would certainly advantage parties with smaller caucuses, whereas the current system appropriately distributes spots proportionally to the size of the caucus. Mathematically, the 8 Independents would similarly get 25% of the rotation; accordingly each would get to deliver a Member’s Statement approximately every other day.
The awkward wording aside, it is also unclear that the Motion is well intentioned. It has been suggested that its entire purpose is to “wedge” Members such as myself, who have been vocal in favour of Parliamentary Reform, to vote in favour of the Motion, possibly against the wishes of our Leadership. Regardless, the whole Motion could be pre-empted and deemed moot by a positive ruling from the Speaker. I have argued in the House that the current Standing Order 31 is actually quite clear and as written, does not support Party or Whip vetting. If the Speaker so rules and provides appropriate direction, that would be a preferable outcome to amending the Standing Order unnecessarily and especially using unclear wordage that denotes equality of Parties rather than equality of Members.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
The opportunity to speak during Statements by Members is allocated to private Members of all parties. In according Members the opportunity to participate in this period, the Chair is guided by lists provided by the Whips of the various parties and attempts to recognize those Members supporting the government and those Members in opposition on an equitable basis.
Nothing in Standing Order 31 establishes that the Speaker be so guided. And so the Speaker should simply abandon party lists and ask MPs to submit their names to his office, at which point MPs will be called on in the order that their submissions arrive (with the same allowance made for a balance each day between government and opposition statements).
This would also have the effect of making it a bit harder for parties to stack those 15 minutes each day with partisan harangues.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 5:28 PM - 0 Comments
The Globe consults academics who suggest party discipline is stricter in Canada than almost anywhere else.
“There may be some exceptions in those African dictatorships that are part of the Commonwealth and so on,” says Leslie Seidle, a research director with the Institute for Research on Public Policy, “but in the advanced parliamentary democracies, there is nowhere that has heavier, tighter party discipline than the Canadian House of Commons. People are kicked out of their party temporarily for what are really very minor matters.”
Richard Simeon, a professor emeritus of political science and law at the University of Toronto and a member of the university’s School of Public Policy and Governance, agrees. “We are worse than the Australians, and much worse than the British, in terms of giving MPs the ability to act and to somehow make a difference,” said Dr. Simeon.
The Globe also notes a recent intervention of the Speaker in New Zealand.
During a recent debate in that country’s legislature, Prime Minister John Key was asked by an opposition leader to explain why he had said the filming of the movie The Hobbit would create 3,000 jobs. When Mr. Key asserted that the film had increased tourism, the opposition leader objected and the Speaker stopped the Prime Minister from going further. “I appreciate the member’s concern,” he said. “He asked a question, but he did not ask for that information.” That’s a far cry from Canada, where responses from the government go unchecked even though they often have little bearing on what was asked.
I suggested something similar a week ago: the Speaker should have the authority to cut off a response that strays off topic. Here, for another example, is the Speaker in Britain both cutting off and admonishing Prime Minister David Cameron during a session of Prime Minister’s Question in June 2011.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, December 21, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The At Issue panel takes viewer questions.
I’d like the Speaker to be more assertive on a couple fronts, but, in the context of Question Period, he can’t be asked to judge whether or not a question has been answered sufficiently. I think he should, just as he can cut off a question that doesn’t deal with the business of government, cut off a response that strays from the subject raised, but it’s problematic (and unworkable) to expect that he should be judging the quality of the response for the purposes of deciding when a question has truly been answered. I also disagree with Andrew’s suggestion that he should be able to compel a minister to stand. If the government side wants to hide a minister behind a designated deflector, that’s for the public to judge and the government to explain.
As for the way we elect our federal representatives, I’ve lately fallen for the idea of a ranked ballot. And unlike proportional representation or mixed-member proportional representation, I think a ranked ballot is something that could be widely accepted by the public and easily adopted.
(I’d happily be done with the monarchy, but, as Chantal says, it’s hard to imagine how that change would come about. If we’re looking around for things to abolish, it’d be more practical to focus on the Senate.)
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Speaker returned to the House yesterday with a response to the points of order raised on November 28 by Nathan Cullen and Peter Van Loan, particularly Mr. Van Loan’s concerns about the opposition’s ability to subject bills to multiple votes.
The underlying principles these citations express are the cornerstones of our parliamentary system. They enshrine the ancient democratic tradition of allowing the minority to voice its views and opinions in the public square, and in counterpoint allowing the majority to put its legislative program before Parliament and have it voted upon. In advocating a much stricter approach to the report stage on Bill C-45, the government House leader seemed to argue that the existence of a government majority meant that the outcome of proceedings on the bill was known in advance, that somehow this justified taking a new approach to decision making by the House and that anything short of that would constitute a waste of the House’s time. This line of reasoning, taken to its logical end, might lead to conclusions that trespass on important foundational principles of our institutions, regardless of its composition.
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, November 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM - 0 Comments
As per the Speaker’s ruling this morning, there will be a maximum of 47 votes on C-45 at report stage. For the sake of comparison, there were 157 votes required to get through C-38 in the spring.
The independent member’s motions are an interesting question. They require some attention, because the independent member does not sit on committee. However, they should not be dealt with in such a manner that they represent, effectively, a harassment of the balance of the House. Compared to the several hundred amendments proposed by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands in June, on Bill C-38, her proposals as of today’s date are slightly less unreasonable. However, the fact remains that the rights of individual members of Parliament must be balanced with the ability of the majority of the House to dispatch its business with some reasonable, practical speed. Allowing a single member of Parliament to hold the House hostage in a voting marathon is simply not reasonable.
I propose the following arrangement, which could, in future, extend to other government bills. Report stage motions submitted by a member of Parliament who is not part of a recognized party shall be selected in the manner provided for by our rules. The selected motions may be grouped for debate in the usual fashion. Subject to the next point, the voting patterns for the motions would be set in the usual manner, as required by the ordinary practices of considering legislative amendments. However, one amendment per independent member of Parliament would be chosen to be a test vote. The voting pattern for the rest of that independent member’s motions would only be implemented if the test motion were adopted. A rejection of the test motion would be inferred as a rejection of all that member’s proposals. Therefore, the balance of the independent member’s motions would not be put to the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 4:52 PM - 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 - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM - 0 Comments
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen rose after QP this afternoon on a point of privilege to argue that the Conservatives were in breach of the House for failing to disclose information about spending cuts to be carried out as a result of C-38.
Here is a copy of the letter Mr. Cullen sent to Speaker Scheer earlier today to explain his concerns.
And here is the transcript of Mr. Cullen’s comments in the House (and Peter Van Loan’s response). Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM - 0 Comments
The prepared text of Speaker Scheer’s ruling on Elizabeth May’s point of order.
I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 5, 2012 by the hon. Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands (Ms. May) regarding the form of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.
I would like to thank the hon. Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for having raised the matter, as well the hon. Leader of the Government in the House (Mr. Van Loan), the hon. House Leader for the Official Opposition (Mr. Cullen), the hon. House Leader of the Liberal Party (Mr. Garneau), and the hon. Members for Winnipeg Centre (Mr. Martin), Winnipeg North (Mr. Lamoureux) and Thunder Bay—Superior North (Mr. Hyer) for their comments.
The foundation of the arguments brought forward by the Member for Saanich – Gulf Islands is that Bill C-38 has not been brought forward in a proper form and is, therefore, imperfect and must be set aside. Specifically, the Member relies on Standing Order 68(3) which states that (quote) “no bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape” (unquote).
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 11, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberals have called a news conference for 10am this morning to explain their strategy. We should find out around noon, with a ruling of the Speaker, how many votes C-38 will face.
I’ve seen it suggested that all of those votes, however many there are, will be considered confidence votes. As I tried to explain in the comment thread under this post, that’s not necessarily true. It is essentially up to the government to decide whether the loss of a vote means defeat. Were the opposition to successfully delete a clause or amend the budget, it would be for Stephen Harper to decide whether he wanted to ask the Governor General for an election as a result.
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…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 18, 2012 at 10:14 AM - 0 Comments
As noted yesterday, there was a small discussion after QP yesterday about the proper use of the adjectives of “stupid” and “ignorant.” Speaker Scheer explained as follows.
I would agree with the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley that calling another member stupid would be unparliamentary. The phrase I heard was referring to the comments made by the member and criticizing the statements he made. That is as I heard it. I would not want to comment on not being able to find more appropriate words to make a point. Certainly, members might want to use their own judgment when it comes to the elevation of their debate. I certainly cannot find that referring to a member’s comments and criticizing the comments in that way would fall into the same category as making a personal attack and making a personal characterization. That is as I heard it today.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM - 0 Comments
On the afternoon of January 26, 1971, Robert McCleave, the Progressive Conservative MP for Halifax-East Hants, rose on a point of order to complain about Bill C-207, the Government Organization Act. In Mr. McCleave’s opinion, the bill should not be read a second time, but rather be divided as it contained “at least seven distinct proposals or principles.”
I suggest to Your Honour that there is more than one proposal or principle involved in this bill, and therefore, having regard to the very ancient privilege of the House that members should not be asked to give simple answers to what are, in effect, several questions intermingled together, I ask Your Honour to take the position of ordering that the bill be divided when the vote comes so that honourable members have a chance to make a decision on each proposal.
A discussion—including contributions from revered parliamentarians Allan MacEachen and Stanley Knowles, among others—ensued. After various members had had their say, Speaker Lucien Lamoureux ruled. It was this ruling that Young Stephen Harper invoked when he objected to the Liberal government’s budget implementation act in 1994.
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 - Friday, December 2, 2011 at 12:15 PM - 11 Comments
On the requirement that questions concern the “administrative responsibility” of government, the Speaker now seems to be taking a strict stance. Yesterday, for instance, he ruled the following, from Liberal MP Geoff Regan, out of order.
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have admitted the phone campaign of lies to the citizens of Mount Royal. The government House leader has actually said he is proud of these unsavoury tactics that seem to be straight from the era of Watergate. Would the Prime Minister heed the calls of commentators, even Conservatives, apologize for this outrage against democracy, shut down his dirty tricks team and call on Elections Canada to investigate?
Mr. Regan challenged the Speaker after Question Period and the Speaker duly promised to get back to the House with clarification of the rules. As Mr. Regan noted, questions about the in-and-out scheme were not ruled out of order and so it will be interesting to see where Mr. Scheer intends to draw the line here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM - 5 Comments
That, in the opinion of the House, the thorough examination and debate of proposed legislation on behalf of Canadians is an essential duty of Members of Parliament, and that the curtailment of such debate limits the ability of Members to carry out this duty and constitutes an affront to Canadian democracy; and, therefore,
That the Speaker undertake a study and make recommendations to amend the Standing Orders with respect to closure and time allocation, such that: (i) a Minister would be required to provide justification for the request for such a curtailment of debate; (ii) the Speaker would be required to refuse such a request in the interest of protecting the duty of Members to examine legislation thoroughly, unless the government’s justification sufficiently outweighs the said duty; (iii) criteria would be set out for assessing the government’s justification, which would provide the Speaker with the basis for a decision to allow for the curtailment of debate;
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 6:09 PM - 15 Comments
“Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the President of the Treasury Board, we know very well that he can Twitter. We know very well that he can tweet,” he informed the House. “What we also know is that he cannot get up on his feet.”
After the interim Liberal leader had expounded on the “absurd situation” before us—a cabinet minister unable or unwilling to stand in the House and explain his actions in helping divvy up millions in “border infrastructure” funds for bike racks and gazebos in his riding—the Prime Minister stood and restated the script about this having been “thoroughly aired” and there being “process improvements” to be made and so forth.
Then though, feeling charitable or chuffed or some combination thereof, the Prime Minister decided to impart his analysis of the spring election’s meaning and lessons. Continue…
By John Geddes - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 2 Comments
How minority Parliaments lower the tone, why tossing out MPs fails, and his favourite Scotch
When the House of Commons resumes sitting this week, the first order of business for MPs will be electing a new Speaker. It will seem strange not to have Liberal Peter Milliken striving to keep order from the big chair. Milliken, 64, didn’t stand for re-election in his Kingston, Ont., riding this spring, ending his record decade-long run as Speaker. Maclean’s spoke to him in the elegant wood-panelled office he’s now leaving, sitting under a large framed print of Yousuf Karsh’s famous wartime portrait photo of Winston Churchill, which was taken on that very spot.
Q: When did you first become interested in the goings-on of the House of Commons?
A: The first visit I remember would have been in Grade 7 or 8. After I got into high school, my cousin John Matheson got elected from Leeds, right next door to Kingston. Once I got my driver’s licence, I started to come up to visit. He told me I could subscribe to Hansard and I started in 1962. I might have been 16. It was that period when I started following what went on in the House.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, June 6, 2011 at 3:33 PM - 4 Comments
After completing my master’s degree, I drove the Escort up to Ottawa to work in the federal public service. Walking down Bank Street one evening, I saw a sign on Subway restaurant stating it was the last day that Sub Club stamps would be accepted. I ran to my apartment to get my pile of stamps before Subway closed.
Upon returning to the Bank Street franchise, I found myself in line with Andrew. The Subway cashier informed me that he could not accept a handful of loose stamps; they had to be affixed to cards. I asked if he had any blank Sub Club cards. The cashier explained that he did not because the program was ending, but that he was prepared to accept any type of card. Without missing a beat, Andrew pulled out his business cards and offered that I could use them. So, I stood there sticking Sub Club stamps onto “Andrew Scheer, MP” cards while he ordered his sandwich. That’s my best story about Andrew being a good guy.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM - 4 Comments
Andrew Scheer’s remarks to Parliament yesterday as he sought the Speaker’s chair.
In the last Parliament, I also noticed the way toxic language has crept into debate. We have a list of unparliamentary words but we need to go beyond that. I do not think unparliamentary language should be constricted to only a technical list. The speaker should ensure that members follow not just the letter of the rules regarding unparliamentary language but the spirit as well. Base name calling and questioning the motives of other hon. members create a toxic environment, which I think is what Canadians feel let down the most about. By showing each other the mutual respect that we would expect from anyone else is very important.
Bill Curry briefly profiles the new Speaker.