Civility in the Legislature

Just read about the ruckus in the Legislature.  It’s not particularly funny but I can tell you from personal experience that the Leg can be a fairly uncivl place.  I was a Page almost 20 years ago (serving coffee and passing notes for the MLAs) and I remember a lot of epithets and hand gestures and overall incivility.  Things get heated – particulalry when it comes to big policy issues.

I remember one old time MLA telling me that it was far worse before McKenna.  Apparently the guys (and they were mostly guys) would go get drunk at supper and come back to the Leg and have their debates in the can so to speak.  McKenna outlawed that but it is hard to outlaw incivility.

I think I mentioned that I did a little formal debating in university and the professor advising us once said that the less fact-based a person’s argument was the more they would revert to shouting and emotional outburst in the hope that people would side with them just because they were passionate.  It rarely works in debate clubs but I think it can be quite effective in public policy debates.

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One Response to Civility in the Legislature

  1. mikel says:

    That’s pretty much a given in canadian parliaments. I once watched CPAC for about 15 minutes and then couldn’t take it anymore. I no longer can take Richard’s claims that direct democracy is worse than having these clowns make all our decisions for us.
    I shouldn’t say ‘clowns’ because essentially people adapt to the conditions they are in. However, I wonder if NB had the practise that all other provinces have-where Hansards are available online (thats the written record of the house debates) whether they’d be so loose with their tongues.
    I have a feeling that was the main reason Charles was banned from the legislature. He had lots of time and was always hanging around in the cafeteria and he told some wild stories (many which were too bad even for his blog).
    And I seem to recall there was some real shenanigans going on when the owner of the Fredericton Inn was going to go ‘public’ with some stories and all hell broke loose.

    But I’d disagree a bit with David, as he knows from this blog people can get agitated when in opposing camps, but people don’t get heated because they don’t have ‘facts’, they get heated when they have no POWER (not the utility). People came here to pick on David for the simple reason any military strategist is well aware of-when people get violent they don’t attack those who are stronger than they. The government is this huge institution protected by military, police and courts, David is just this guy.

    But say the government was going to raise the taxes on Economic Development Consultants to 80% of revenue. Would you be upset because you don’t have the ‘facts’ about what it would do to your business, or because you have no power to change the governments’ mind?

    A similar thing is going on here in Ontario with the HST legislation, and if you think its ugly THERE, we’ve had MLA’s thrown out of the legislature almost every day for calling people every name in the book. Not because they don’t have ‘facts’, but because the government has a majority and can do what they want.

    In the legislature though there is simply no need for it. A simple question is the most powerful barb a critic will have, not the hooting and hollering that accompanies it. I suspect it has something to do with their constituents-a tory candidate wants to show that he is REALLY mad to show that he sympathizes with his constituents (which I doubt).

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