Worth following on Twitter

Twitter has “Follow Fridays” (#FF) where users can recommend to their followers other Twitter accounts worth following. I’ve decided to start promoting certain Twitter accounts here, since not everyone follows this blog on Twitter, and I can better explain why I think some people are worth following. Many people dismiss Twitter because of the 140 character limit; this makes it impossible to actually discuss or debate anything of substance. It is a challenge, but I have been surprised by how many fairly detailed discussions of complex subjects such as the royal prerogative and Canada’s succession laws actually occur – if you follow the right people. This brings me to my first round of Twitter follow recommendations. Canadian Constitutional/procedural expertise Philipe […]

Proposal for elected Commons committee chairs

For the past three years now, this blog has explored some of the more interesting developments in parliamentary procedure in various jurisdictions (primarily the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Regular readers know that I am a big fan of many of the reforms introduced in the UK House of Commons in 2010, as per the recommendations of the Wright report. One of those reforms involved select committee chairs being elected by the whole House, as I’ve blogged about in detail in other posts. For example, back in April 2011, I wrote one of my Fixing Ottawa posts, this one focused on Committees, wherein I explained in detail how UK select committee chairs and members are now elected. In another […]

Parliamentary reform would work

In a recent article, Don Lenihan argues that parliamentary reform won’t “force a government to engage in meaningful debate” and reverse the fact that Parliament is, in his words “broken”. Lenihan writes: MPs like Michael Chong and Nathan Cullen remain hopeful. They think that the right combination of rules and procedures can fix Parliament. Unfortunately, if “fixing” it means rekindling meaningful debate, they are wrong. House Speaker Andrew Scheer’s ruling on the F-35s last week inadvertently shows why. Scheer argues that a minister cannot be charged with misleading the House unless it can be proved that he/she intended to do so. Intentions, however, are slippery things. (…) Scheer’s point is that, when a minister declares that he/she is not lying, […]

Prorogation Ceremony

Canadians are used to thinking of prorogation of Parliament as something rather secretive, done behind closed doors. Because of this, it might be of interest to some to actually watch a prorogation ceremony as it recently unfolded in the UK House of Lords. Prorogation is the formal ending of a session of Parliament, either by a special ceremony held in the upper chamber or by the Queen’s or a Governor General’s proclamation to that effect. Prorogation also refers to the period of time a Parliament stands prorogued. Prorogation is a routine procedure. Some legislatures prorogue every year, others more infrequently. The UK Parliament prorogues in May because in 2010, following the general election held in May of that year, the […]

On irrelevance

One of the fundamental principles of parliamentary procedure is that debate in the House must lead to a decision within a reasonable period of time. Over time, the business of government became more complex, and legislatures had increasingly limited time available to them to consider this business. It was therefore essential to do so as efficiently as possible. Requiring that speeches (as well as questions and comments) remain relevant to the matter being debated allows the House to reach decisions without needless obstruction and excludes discussions that aren’t conducive to that end. The practice of restraining debate that is either repetitious or irrelevant to the matter under discussion dates back to the earliest days of the English House of Commons. […]

A video is worth a thousand words

I have written many posts about various procedural measures used in the British House of Commons that I think would be welcomed additions to the Canadian House of Commons. While I have attempted to describe these measures in detail, viewing them in action would probably be far more enlightening. The BBC’s Democracy Live website makes available clips of specific proceedings from the UK House of Commons (and Lords), making it quite easy for me to provide readers with clips of urgent questions, ministerial statements and other proceedings. Note – I don’t expect anyone to watch any of these in their entirely, but even if you watch them for only 10-15 minutes, you will gain a better sense of what is […]