Speaker ruling on use of twitter in the House

Today, Peter Milliken gave his ruling on a Bloc point of order that was made earlier last month regarding Conservative MP Royal Glaipeau’s tweeting in the House of Commons. The Bloc member believed that Galipeau crossed the line when describing how many MPs were not present in the chamber from each party via his twitter account.

Galipeau tweeted,

“In the House now: 20 Conservative MPs, five New Democrats, four Liberals, zero Blocs”

Parliamentary rules state that a Member may not reference missing Members in the House while speaking. However, with the advent of new technology, the conversation perceived by outside observers is no longer limited to a Member addressing the chair.

Milliken ruled that while Galipeau’s tweet was regrettable that it is becoming impossible to police personal devices within the chamber and recommeded that the House of Commons study the use of such devices and services in a committee.

The Kindle was also spotted making its debut in the House during March gracing the desks of Ministers, replacing the larger tabbed green “answer” binders that they carry. With the Apple iPad hitting Canadian shelves later this month will we see another point of convergence of the useful and distracting in the House of Commons?

Speaker election – interviews

In general, I’m asking the same four questions

1) 30 second to 1 minute pitch on why you should be Speaker
2) Why replace the incumbent?
3) It’s a minority Parliament and the election was framed to reinvigorate a “dysfunctional” Parliament (Prime Minister’s framing of the situation). How would you work to improve the behaviour in Parliament?
4) The Speaker delegates authority of press-related matter to the Parliamentary Press Gallery which is slow to change to recognize the evolution of new media be it blogs, youtube, facebook, twitter. Will you direct Parliament to recognize new actors in the press space?

Merv Tweed:

Barry Devolin:

Andrew Scheer:

Joe Comartin:

Royal Galipeau:
[attending other business in the riding today]

Peter Milliken:
[not doing press]

Mauril Belanger:
[his helpful staff are trying to set up a phone call for later today. UPDATE: It appears that this won’t be possible.]


Negotiations are currently underway, and barring some procedural snafu, the rumour is that we’ll see adjournment of the House either today or tomorrow. That’s the current word from the gossip-hounds on the Hill.

UPDATE: Peter van Loan, the government House leader has moved for emergency debate on two pieces of legislation. Yes, they’re pushing through to wrap up soon.

UPDATE (Friday afternoon): Alas, it’s not to be. Liberals and Conservatives (and journalists) are complaining that its the NDP that’s holding up the House. But good news, the latest consensus estimate is that the House will break after Monday with unanimous consent.

BREAKING – Grits to walk out

I’m hearing a rumour that the Liberals are going to walk out of Question Period today in protest of Stephen Harper’s reading of that Vancouver Sun article yesterday which cast a shadow on the reputation of Liberal MP Navdeep Bains.

If the House cannot function as it should in a democracy, how can we get a democratic solution the important issues surrounding this debate (Air India, Anti-terrorism act)?

The Grits should stay and debate. After all, I once heard that 15 minutes of time in the House of Commons costs taxpayers $75,000.

UPDATE: The rumour turned out to be untrue.

UPDATE: Well… not exactly. I’ve learned a bit more. The Grits were indeed going to walk out of Question Period. That is, however, until Stephen Harper came down the stairs, flanked by members of the Air India families and then scrummed with reporters (which is rare). Likely not wanting to offend the families (which would sit in the gallery during Question Period and hold a press conference at the National Press Theater to back Harper’s position on the Anti-Terrorism Act provisions) the Liberals in the opposition lobby filed into, and stayed, in the House for Question Period.