Home > Federal, NDP > Maybe The Speaker Does Not Have The Tools To Keep Order?

Maybe The Speaker Does Not Have The Tools To Keep Order?

November 10, 2008

It seem that Speaker of the House Peter Milliken is being challenged for his re-election with the big issue being Parliamentary decorum.

Now, I’m not going to take sides in the Speaker election, but maybe the problem in regards to decorum is that the Speaker doesn’t have access to enough tools to keep order.

Maybe it is time for some new rules in regards to conduct. What kind of rules would be needed?

I think an 2006 NDP proposal, based on a report from 1992, would be a good start:

  • Create a standing order prohibiting all racist, sexist and homophobic remarks in the House.
  • Suspend MPs who persistently and willfully disrupt the House.
  • Give the Speaker the power to refuse to call on members who are unable to maintain order.
  • Compel members who have been deemed to have uttered sexist, homophobic or racist comments to apologize in the House of Commons.
  • Set out a system of escalating penalties for repeat offences [including fines].

If there is truly a desire for better decorum in the House from MPs, the best way to handle that might not be to get rid of the incumbent Speaker, but giving the Speakers enough tools to enforce order.

Either that, or MPs could take it upon themselves to behave…

Categories: Federal, NDP
  1. November 10, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for writing such a thoughful post. I agree with you that the office of the Speaker isn’t really empowered to enforce discipline on the MP’s. The only office that is is the Whip’s office, which is really just an extension of the leader’s office.

    As for the fines business, Parliament is already empowered to do that. When was the last time someone was held in contempt of Parliament though…?

  2. Paul Willcocks
    November 25, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Interesting post, but I’d argue the problem is lack of will, not lack of power.
    The Speaker can already refuse to call on people who behave badly, sort of an unofficial time out; he can boot people from the chamber for a day; he can make people who are rude, stupid or irrelevant sit down mid-answer or mid-speech. He can even just adjourn the House for the day if things are out of control.
    I do not get how we have accepted the notion that our parliaments and legislatures should be places of deliberate ignorance, boorishness, dishonesty and irrelevance.

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