Read more at the National Post:
Andrew Scheer, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has made a potentially landmark ruling on MPs’ freedom of speech that could stem the flow of power from the backbench to party hierarchies, in defiance of the wishes his party leader, Stephen Harper. It was, in all likelihood, not a decision that was made lightly…
Mr. Scheer said members are free to seek the floor at any time. “Ultimately, it is up to each individual member to decide how frequently he or she wishes to seek the floor, knowing that being recognized by the Speaker is not always a guaranteed proposition.”
He acknowledged that members who complain they are rarely on their party’s list have a “legitimate concern.” An analysis of members’ statements, for example, suggests that 10% of Conservative backbenchers delivered 28% of the members’ statements in the last year, with Quebec MP Jacques Gourde giving 35 statements (mostly pushing party messages) and Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott delivering just two.
On a lighter note, John Ivison made me laugh this morning. I grew up watching Star Trek as a kid because my parents loved it. If you’ve ever watched it, you know what he’s getting at:
But make no mistake, if Mr. Scheer had allowed the status quo to stand, the last vestiges of independence on the backbenches in the House of Commons would have disappeared. The convention that the party whips dictate who says what during Question Period and members’ statements would have been confirmed — the status of backbenchers as disposable as that of Star Trek redshirt security officers on landing-party duty.