NDP launch new bid to improve question period by giving Speaker more power

The New Democrats are seeking to get more out of question period by giving the Speaker the power to make sure Canadians get answers.

OTTAWA — The New Democrats are seeking to get more out of question period by giving the Speaker the power to make sure Canadians get answers.

They introduced a motion Monday that would give the Speaker the ability to decide if question period replies are repetitive or irrelevant, and even penalize MPs accordingly.

“The most important part of Parliament isn’t the question, it’s the answer,” said NDP House leader Peter Julian.

“For the Speaker to not have the ability to intervene on the relevance, or on repetition, of answers to extremely important questions that are being asked in the House of Commons is something that I think most Canadians find aggravating.”

But the majority Conservatives seem to feel the motion goes too far.

Government House leader Peter Van Loan said the proposal would hamper the government’s abilities to defend itself or question the opposition or compare other parties’ approaches.

“You’re saying that question period is only there for the government to lie prone while opposition members jump up and down and beat them,” Van Loan said during debate on the motion.

“Debate should be debate, it should be free-ranging, people should be able to have an exchange of views, not a one-sided exchange.”

The NDP’s motion was in response to repeated non-sequitur answers last week from Paul Calandra, the prime minister’s parliamentary secretary, when asked questions about Canada’s military contribution in Iraq.

When the NDP pleaded for the Speaker to intervene, he said he didn’t have the ability to do so, but noted the House could change that.

Calandra later apologized after his non-answers sparked outrage even from his fellow Conservatives.

The motion follows all-party support for a Conservative backbench bill which sought to give individual MPs more power to turf their leaders and give riding organizations the ability to choose who represents them, not party officials at headquarters.

But in order to win that support, Michael Chong, the MP behind the bill, was forced to make its provisions far more flexible — even suggesting that parties could vote at the start of each Parliament as to whether they’d follow the new rules.

Chong’s efforts underscore the challenges facing any one party that wants to make changes to the way Canada is governed: everyone has to agree on how to fix it.

The New Democrats’ motion is expected to come up for a vote on Tuesday.

Just Posted

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

Time for a central Albertan in cabinet, says chamber of commerce

Central Alberta had no cabinet ministers in last government

Trump Russia probe finally delivers some answers

WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of waiting, America is getting some… Continue reading

Trans Mountain Pipeline deadline extended

OTTAWA — The federal government is delaying a decision on the Trans… Continue reading

WATCH video of Innisfail resident creating the world’s biggest caricature

Watch as Innisfail resident Dean Foster creates the world’s biggest caricature of… Continue reading

Lower price discounts to boost Q1 oil profits but uncertainty hangs over sector

CALGARY — Lower discounts on western Canadian oil prices have swollen producer… Continue reading

Local Sports: Hard training pays off for Red Deer runner Jared Howse

Jared Howse understands success doesn’t come easily. The 17-year-old has put together… Continue reading

CRA’s automatic benefit registrations give retirees reason to file on time

TORONTO — This is the time of year when procrastinators begin to… Continue reading

Study: Genetic test predicts middle-aged obesity risk

NEW YORK — Can a genetic test identify newborns at risk of… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer Co-op Plaza Food store closing

Central Alberta Co-op is closing its downtown Red Deer Plaza food store… Continue reading

Earth, meet Polo: Ralph Lauren unveils plastic bottle shirt

NEW YORK — Earth, meet Polo. Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in February

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.8 per cent in… Continue reading

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Most Read