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View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure for me to speak today on the Standing Orders. I would like to clarify that the views I will be expressing are my own. Everyone who knows me knows I like rules a lot. In fact, I volunteered to be on PROC because I really like rules. I am probably one of the very few MPs who have read the Standing Orders multiple times, as well as Bosc and Gagnon, but I digress.
I miss being in the chamber. I understand why we are not, but I am hopeful that eventually we will get back in the chamber. I am looking at my colleagues on the screen and in the chamber we are able to look at each other. We are able to gauge the reaction and give feedback. Unfortunately, we do not get those social cues on the screen.
One of the items we should look at is Standing Order 31. We say that they cannot be used for improper use, but we need to define “improper use”. In Bosc and Gagnon, there are references to personal attacks, using poetry, but these are all things that are unfortunately not being looked at in reality.
What is happening in the chamber during S.O. 31s is not necessarily what the intent of an S.O. 31 is. I would like to see those clarified because it seems to be an extension of question period where members are given a minute to basically say whatever they want to say and use that as their clip on social media. I would like to see that looked at in terms of defining it.
With respect to that, S.O. 18 refers to using disrespectful language toward other members. I am noticing an increase in disrespectful language and in tone, but I am also seeing that at committee when we are speaking to witnesses. I have seen some members actually berate witnesses. Witnesses are there on their own accord to give their testimony, but when the tone is to the point that I have to intervene as a chair, I think we need to take a look at that. We are responsible for our actions, and I understand parliamentary privilege may protect us, but we still do have a responsibility to treat people with dignity and respect.
One thing that drives me crazy, which I am sure my colleague from Winnipeg Centre was going to bring up, is the use of unanimous consent motions on a point of order. After almost every question period, we are seeing a member stand on a point of order and try to bring forward a unanimous consent motion, when we know that motions cannot be put forward on a point of order. I would like this practice to stop and for points of order to be used as they are intended. I think that is what we should be focusing on.
Another area I would like to bring up, and some of my colleagues have brought it up as well, is our virtual Parliament. What we cannot do directly, we should not be able to do indirectly. For instance, if we were in the chamber, we would not be allowed to be on the telephone. I am sitting here, looking at my zoom screen, and I am watching members speaking on the phone, which we would not normally be able to do. I think we should have respect for our colleagues and this institution. Being in the virtual chamber is the equivalent of being in the chamber. We need to be mindful of that.
I believe in the last Parliament my colleague from Brossard—Saint-Lambert brought up proper attire in the Standing Orders. I am going to read this because this is very telling for my fellow female MPs, but in chapter 11, on page 611, of Bosc and Gagnon, it very clearly says, “Current practice requires that male Members wear jackets, shirts and ties. Clerical collars have been allowed, although ascots and turtlenecks have been ruled inappropriate for male Members participating in debate” and that any “Member desiring...to speak at any point during the proceedings of the House must be wearing contemporary business attire.”
This is not just a House of men. There are 100 women members of Parliament, and I would like to see that we are reflected in the rules of order and decorum. We should define what suitable business attire is, because I do not think that stretch pants should be in the House of Commons, but that is just me.
Last, but not least, is something that is not in the Standing Orders. It is in the bylaws and policies with respect to the Parliament of Canada Act, the Board of Internal Economy and members' allowances and services.
I firmly believe that members of Parliament represent all of the citizens in their ridings. For instance, I was elected in Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne in 2015. I represent all 105,000 people in my riding. I do not have any indication of my party affiliation in my office. I do not put out any documentation with a party affiliation using parliamentary resources, so I do not feel that it is appropriate for parliamentarians to either be wearing masks with a party logo, sending out householders with the party logo or putting out advertising with a party logo using parliamentary resources. I know this was an issue in previous Parliaments, but I think it is something we need to look at adding to the Standing Orders, under codes of conduct.
I want any person who lives in my riding to feel free to come to my office and come and speak to me or get service. Regardless of how they voted, or if they voted, they are represented by me, and they should not have a big “L” facing them, because then they do not feel they are included. I have heard this since I was elected.
Some people who come to see me start by apologizing for not having voted Liberal. It is no big deal.
I do not care. I am here to serve them. That is what I do.
Therefore, I do not think that we should be allowed to use parliamentary resources to have the logos or the names of our political parties in our householders, advertising or parliamentary offices. I am the member of Parliament for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, point final.
I would like to see that included in the code of conduct and for the Board of Internal Economy look at that, because I am seeing more and more advertising with logos. I think it is inappropriate, and I do not think taxpayers should be paying for that. My point is that, if members would like to use their party logo, their EDA should pay for it, or it should be an expense during an election.
Last but not least is voting virtually. We are in unprecedented times. We have said this multiple times. I am sure someone has a bingo sheet and is now checking that phrase off. This is temporary, in my opinion. We cannot all be in the chamber for health reasons. One day we will be back. We will be in the chamber.
I enjoy standing in my position in the chamber to vote. I can understand that for this point in time we are in unprecedented times and that we need to be able to vote in a secure way, but also in a way that is expeditious. I just can imagine a 30-hour voting session on zoom, and how that would look. While I understand that at this point we should be using virtual voting, I am looking forward to the day that we are back in the chamber all together debating and voting our conscience and voting as per the wishes of our constituents.
With that, I will cede my time. I welcome any questions.
View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2021-02-01 13:34 [p.3818]
Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic there was a lot of rhetoric around having to get back to work with respect to being in the House of Commons, a push back against the hybrid sittings. For me, I was busy working. I have had a number of urgent matters to deal with in my riding during the pandemic. Being at home, in Winnipeg Centre, allowed me to get back to work with the people who I serve there.
Does the member see some value in keeping the hybrid approach to ensure we can truly be with our constituents and the people who elected us more than previously was allotted prior to the pandemic?
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2021-02-01 13:35 [p.3818]
Mr. Speaker, the member rightly raises the conflict between being available to one's constituents and being engaged in being a legislator in Ottawa, but the criticism around the COVID committee in that period was about the denial of so many of the available tools, not just to opposition MPs but to all MPs.
Constituents want members to have the tools available to them to hold the government to account and ensure that confidence in the government can be tested by Parliament. Yes, there is undoubtedly a balance to be had, and that is why we do not sit every week and why there are plenty of constituency weeks built into the calendar to provide normal functioning. The pre-COVID balance of the calendar was about right, and I would not support deviating from that or going ahead with permanent virtual operations.
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