A fascinating bit of history concerning ministerial statements in Canada

I have previously written about how, in my opinion, the UK House of Commons format for statements by ministers, or ministerial statements as they are also called, is superior to the procedure followed in the Canadian House of Commons. In that post, I explain how ministerial statements unfold in both Houses. The key differences between the two are: In the UK, ministers deliver statements to keep the House informed of on-going developments and government policy while in Canada, they are used primarily to mark commemorative events or to pay tribute to certain individuals; and In the UK, MPs have the opportunity to comment on the statement, and more importantly, ask questions of the minister to seek further information and better […]

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, […]

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 […]

Comparing UK and Canadian House of Commons procedure

Going by the keyword search activity on this blog, there seems to be much interest in comparisons of parliamentary procedure in Canada and the United Kingdom. I have written many posts about various parliamentary proceedings which differ notably in both countries, and so I thought I would regroup that information into one post, with links to the more detailed posts for those who wish to find out more. Please note that this is not a comprehensive explanation of all of the differences between the two countries – I am looking only at major areas of interest. Related Posts:Towards a Parliament 2.0Contrasts in Question PeriodsClarifying PMQsOn reforming PMQsOther reforms of Parliament are more urgently needed than electoral reform

Some interesting numbers

During Questions to the Leader of the House on 8 September, a few interesting statistics were made available. First, in response to a question regarding the use of ministerial statements to make major government announcements, the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons informed Members that 139 oral ministerial statements and more than 1,500 written ministerial statements were made to the House thus far this session (since May 2010). This is a relatively impressive number, and indeed, the parliamentary secretary added that the Government had a “much better record than the previous Government”. Ministerial statements in the UK House of Commons are much more informative than are their Canadian namesakes, as I have explained previously. They […]

Is the grass really greener, Part 2

In an earlier post, I discussed Question Time, the Australian House of Representatives oral question period, which a British blogger had described as “unbelievable behaviour” and attributed much of the problems to the Speaker himself. After listening to a few archived Question Times on the House of Representatives website, I ended up agreeing with that assessment. Today, I’ve come across an article by Katharine Murphy, the national affairs correspondent at Australia’s The Age, in which she sharply criticizes Question Time. Some of her observations: Question time in its contemporary manifestation symbolises everything that’s wrong with political discussion in Australia — an exchange of manufactured sound bites and confected television “moments” signifying nothing at all. It is at once uncomfortably aggressive, […]