Opinions

Speaker of the House should take a stand against child’s play within parliament

Christopher Radojewski | Fulcrum Contributor

ELEMENTARY AND HIGH school kids tend to get excited as the school year draws to an end, and Members of Parliament are no different.

The parliamentary session is expected to finish as early as next week, and as a result many MPs have become quite difficult to the point that someone should call their parents.

The obsession of June 13 surrounded Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and his traffic violations on Parliament Hill. Mulcair reportedly ran multiple stop signs and continued despite an RCMP vehicle following him with lights flashing.

This was ammunition for the Conservative caucus, which was well-prepared for Question Period later that day. The theme was “STOP,” and Members’ Statements and talking points were uniquely crafted to be punny and comical. Though QP catered to my love of puns, I was ultimately disappointed with any substance and acceptable behaviour having gone out the stain glass windows.

Questions were not answered. Instead, there were accusations like, “If only the NDP respected the law.” Parliamentary rules were broken as Minister James Moore kept referencing Mulcair’s lack of presence in the chamber and as a result Speaker of the House Andrew Scheer told him off.

Now, I am not putting all the blame on the Conservatives. The Opposition parties were just as bad when it came to heckling. Actually, there were many moments in QP when the government sat pretty as the Liberals and NDP hurled insults at each other. The job is to hold the government to account. If the opposition want serious answers, they must take the time to ask serious questions.

But answers are rare from the government side. Evasion is a constant theme, which is quite upsetting for those sitting in the galleries thinking, “So this is where my tax dollars go.” Let’s face it: a trip to Ottawa is better spent at one of its many interesting museums. At the moment, QP is an ineffective tool of parliament. And it’s ironic, since Thursday was the day Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed both houses of the British parliament by praising the legacy of our Westminster system.

Oh, don’t let me forget the other flagrant violation of parliamentary rules: Many Conservative MPs had the image of a stop sign that read “STOP MULCAIR.” The badly printed papers were held by a number of MPs during QP. The timing is interesting because in June 2011, former University of Ottawa student Brigette DePape held up a “STOP HARPER” sign in the Senate. At least her stop sign looked better.

For those who have ever participated in a model parliament in school, you will remember that props are not allowed. This is because in the rules of parliament, “Props of any kind, used as a way of making a silent comment on issues, have always been found unacceptable in the Chamber [… including] papers, documents or other objects to illustrate their remarks.”

These papers were not sneakily flashed. From the gallery, it was easy to see “STOP MULCAIR” signs held by MPs Larry Miller, John Williamson, Bob Zimmer, and Rob Anders.

The question is whether Scheer will take any action to reprimand these MPs and dispose of the mischief plaguing the House. After all, DePape was fired for her display.

I hope Scheer will act as the babysitter and enforce the rules and decorum of the house in these last few days. After all, citizens can’t discipline them at the polls until 2015, so someone has to do it.

@ChrisRadojewski