Opposition Motion – Changes to Standing Orders

That Standing Order 11(2) be replaced with the following: The Speaker or the Chair of Committees of the Whole, after having called the attention of the House, or of the Committee, to the conduct of a Member who persists in irrelevance, or repetition, including during responses to oral questions, may direct the Member to discontinue his or her intervention, and if then the Member still continues to speak, the Speaker shall name the Member or, if in Committee of the Whole, the Chair shall report the Member to the House.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I absolutely agree with today’s motion. I want to thank the official opposition for giving us the opportunity to talk about something so vital to respect for Parliament. It is clear that the goal of having a respectful Parliament, as my colleague mentioned, is important.

In the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, there is a section on oral questions. Standing Order 37(1) states:

Questions on matters of urgency may, at the time specified in Standing Order 30(5), be addressed orally to Ministers of the Crown, provided however that, if in the opinion of the Speaker a question is not urgent, he or she may direct that it be placed on the Order Paper.

I mention that because I think that ties in with the power that the Speaker currently has and does not traditionally or habitually use. The Speaker has the power to stop questions; why not answers as well?

Alexandrine Latendresse: Mr. Speaker, I would like to sincerely thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. She has been advocating for a more civil Parliament from day one. I am very pleased to have her support today.
She got to the heart of the problem. We are aware that many of the Standing Orders are not always enforced by the Speaker at this time. We understand that, and we clearly understood the Speaker’s response last week. That is precisely why today we want to ask that this rule, which already exists, be enforced so that it does not become one of the many rules not really enforced by the Speaker. We do not want people to be able to continue answering when they have clearly crossed the threshold of absurdity. Responses need to be more tangible and concrete.