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Respect Rules the Day in the House: Equal Voice Applauds Efforts of All Parties

Oct 20, 2010

 

Tuesday, October 19th 

 
Ottawa:  In an increasing shift away from the raucousness and rowdiness of a typical Question Period in the House of Commons, all parties made a special effort today to eliminate some of the antics common to QP and encouraged Members of Parliaments to be tough, not rough.
 
In Question Period, exchanges in the House were largely respectful and focused. Noticeably absent was the heckling, jeering, name calling, and yelling that has come to define the one hour session.
 
At the invitation of Equal Voice, a national organization advocating for the election of more women, House leaders agreed to showcase how Members of Parliament from all sides are working to elevate the debate in the House of Commons. 
 
As was clear from today’s Question Period, most MPs refrained from shouting needlessly across the floor, insulting, intimidating or interrupting those who were asking or answering questions.
 
The day after Person’s Day, the day in Canada nearly one hundred years ago when women were legally recognized as persons, provided a perfect opportunity for parties to underscore their commitment to an improved tenor in the House.
 
“Equal Voice is very pleased that all parties made the effort. It’s obvious that with a little effort on everyone’s part, House debates, including during Question Period, can be passionate, productive, and respectful,” said Nancy Peckford, Executive Director of Equal Voice. 
 
“MPs clearly showed us today that respect can and should be part of the package. We don’t accept this behaviour in the boardrooms of the nation or the classrooms of the country.  It is our hope that it is no longer accepted in our Parliament” 
 
Government House Leader, John Baird, known for his forthrightness in the House agreed that the day was an excellent opportunity to feature parties’ improved approach. 
 
"The effort by Equal Voice to encourage more women to serve, not only in the House of Commons, but also in elected positions across our country, is important," said Government House Leader John Baird.
 
"I'm pleased that a number of young women and men from across the country are here today on Parliament Hill with Equal Voice to see that indeed, there is a place for them in politics."
 
Equal Voice noted that Canada currently ranks 50th in the world in terms of representation at the federal level.  The current environment in the House, especially during QP, may have something to do with Canada’s low ranking. 
 
“Most women are motivated to get involved politically because they care about the issues.  When they see what happens in Question Period, particularly the taunts and the jeering aimed at discrediting other members, some women think twice," said Donna Dasko, National Chair of Equal Voice.  
 
“We know Parliament can and often does work well. Changing how MPs debate in the House may serve to attract more women to the process.” 
 
David McGuinty, Liberal Party House Leader, said that he was glad to highlight how his caucus is able to critique the government from a policy perspective without resorting to personalized attacks.
 
"The Liberal Party is dedicated to providing practical solutions for issues Canadians care about the most.  Today has proven to be one more step in the right direction, where we hope that a more civil tone in the House will result in further action and better results."
 
“Libby Davies, House Leader for the New Democratic Party, took advantage of the day to underscore their efforts to make Parliament work, under often unpredictable and precarious circumstances.
 
“The NDP has always been devoted to making the best use of MPs time and advancing the priorities of Canadians.  Being respectful of our colleagues in the House, while continuing to ask the tough questions, is crucial to our success. “
 
Pierre Paquette, House Leader of the Bloc Québécois, remarked that "today provided an opportunity for us to underscore the value of the work Parliamentarians do and its significance." 
 
`"This should help in ensuring that a larger number of women, as well as others members of our society, become politically involved- whether it is as an elected person or in other aspects of the political process."
 
Equal Voice underscored that it is pleased to see that all parties are working to improve the political culture on a more permanent basis.  
 
“Ensuring that respectful behaviour is part and parcel of debates can only strengthen the confidence Canadians have in our Parliament," said Peckford.  
 
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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.