David Cameron speaks during PMQs

Why a Canadian PMQs isn’t a good idea

The new Canadian Liberal Government led by Prime Minister Trudeau is exploring creating a “Prime Minister’s Question Period”. While no details are available yet — they are in the process of negotiating with the opposition parties — one assumes it would be similar to Britain’s Prime Minister’s Questions, or PMQs, that weekly half-hour where the Prime Minister alone takes questions from MPs from all sides. Much of the punditry discussion of implementing a similar procedure here in Canada tends to focus on the issue that, if he appeared in the House only once a week for questions, the Prime Minister would be less accountable to the House. Currently, for those who don’t follow Canadian politics much, all Ministers, including the […]

Cromwell, Disraeli, Churchill, Macmillan would not have allowed that. They believed in the power and supremacy not of Government, but of Parliament. It is our inheritance and our duty to take radical steps to preserve and enhance that primacy.

James Gray, MP

Winds of change? Ideas for parliamentary revival

There is much speculation and — dare I say it — hope among Canadian political observers that we might see a sort of reboot of Parliament — which wouldn’t be that difficult to achieve, given how bad things got during the 41st Parliament. Over the past few days, two articles and one report dealing with ways to make Ottawa better came to my attention, and I would like to briefly touch on each. The Public Policy Forum released a report entitled Time for a Reboot: Nine Ways to Restore Trust in Canada’s Public Institutions, which you can download from this page (PDF). Most of it does not deal with proceedings in the House of Commons, but larger governance issues, and […]

What we have today is a grubby piece of schoolboy intrigue that Michael Dobbs would have been ashamed to have dreamt up for one of his novels. These are matters for the House to deliberate on properly and initiate, not the Executive. These are matters of due process and due thought.

Mr Gordon Marsden, MP

Procedural Passion

In a 2010 speech to the Oxford Union Society, UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow stated: “I appreciate that the words “parliamentary procedure” are not necessarily the most exciting in the English language. Yet, as I have indicated, parliamentary procedure matters.” Speaker Bercow is not the only Member of the House of Commons who feels that way; two of the most passionate debates in the UK Commons in recent months occurred over proposed changes to the House’s Standing Orders. Contrary to what one British journalist believes, the Standing Orders are not “an obscure parliamentary procedure“, rather, the Standing Orders are the rules which guide procedure in parliament. And on two occasions recently, the first on the very last sitting day […]

SpeakerProcession

Champion of the House

The new UK Parliament met on 18 May to deal with the first business of any new parliament: electing the Speaker. In the UK, if the Speaker seeks re-election in the general election, it is the tradition that he or she will continue as Speaker in the new parliament. Thus the day began with the Father of the House (the longest serving MP – which we call the Dean of the House in Canada) ascertaining whether Mr John Bercow was willing to be chosen as Speaker. Bercow replied: It has been an honour to serve as Speaker for nearly six years, and I should be honoured to do so for a little longer if colleagues kindly agree. I shall strive […]

Hdr_parliament

Reflections on the 2015 UK General Election

First of all, I must say I am deeply disappointed with the results. Not because the Conservatives managed to win a majority of the seats, but because any party was able to do that! I was truly looking forward to a very messy hung parliament; days, if not weeks, of talks and negotiations between the various parties; and a chance to see the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act come into play. Alas, that is not to be. I — like most viewers I would imagine — was incredibly surprised by the exit poll results announced as soon as the polls closed. Not so much by the forecast that the Tories would be the largest party — that I had […]

Tony Abbott

Thrills and Spills in Australia

These are rather interesting times in Australia, both at the federal and state and territorial level. Federally, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership spill motion on Monday morning (which corresponds to 17:00 Sunday EST). His party caucus is increasingly unhappy with some of the policy decisions Abbott has taken of late, and the party is not polling well at all. In Australia, party caucuses can vote to depose the party leader, which is called a spill. You may recall the previous spills under the Labor government: first Julia Gillard led an ouster of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, then in the following parliament, Rudd ousted Gillard. For more information about leadership spills in Australia, I recommend the following articles: […]