Exposing childish MPs


By Bruce Rhodes


November 1, 1989


Hats off to Allan Fotheringham for helping expose the behaviour of our elected officials (“Roaming camera would reveal the true House,” Oct. 24), and federal Speaker John Fraser’s moves to curtail it. Mr. Fotheringham is right: What one sees on the televised House of Commons differs markedly from what actually goes on.


I can only hope that Mr. Fraser’s provincial counterparts follow his initiative, too; what I observed the one time I sat in on Ontario’s Parliament left me saddened and disillusioned.


Ø      Loud, rude, almost incessant heckling. While audible on TV, it is unbelievably juvenile when experienced live. Only among spoiled children have I hitherto seen such displays.


Ø      Pages used to send notes between MPs. I watched, more than once, as the passed notes elicited raucous laughter from its recipient. Serious government business?


Ø      Passing, between MPs, of greeting cards (it was Christmastime). School kids would get their knuckles rapped for such doings.


Ø      A member of Parliament of very high standing reading a paperback (it wasn’t Rules of Parliament, rest assured).


I urge all Canadians to attend their local Question Period, just once, notwithstanding any rule changes to the televising of same. Each of us bankrolls these productions of Alice in Wonderland; unlike the Wizard of Oz, however, you likely won’t be happy seeing it over and over again.