ITQ is off today — Happy SJBD, everyone! — but before she heads off down the river, she just had to post her thoughts on the following helpful suggestion from the usually entirely sensible Bob Rae, in response to that age old question, “How can we make the House of Commons at least a little less of a horrible experience for everyone involved?”
Via Canadian Press:
Rae also proposes ditching the centuries-old voting method in the Commons.
He wants to see an electronic system that could let MPs vote within seconds – and use their time more productively than spending 90 minutes each day standing up and sitting down for votes the old-fashioned way.
Dear Bob Rae,
No. Just — no. Don’t even try it. ITQ doesn’t want to have to chain herself to the Speaker’s chair to protest the dismantling of one of the few procedural mechanisms that even the most dysfunctional of parliaments can’t screw up.
ITQ was in the House on June 28, 2005, for the vote on same-sex marriage, counting along with the table officers, waiting to see how many Liberal backbenchers would fail to rise when their leader stood up in support of his bill, and which Conservative MPs would get to their feet to join him while the rest of their caucus remained seated. When the clerk read out the result, the public gallery exploded into applause. The guards didn’t know what to make of it. She was there the night that Bill Casey voted against the budget — hanging over the railing so she could watch as he rose in his place, fully aware that this single act would be his last as a member of the Conservative caucus. His colleagues sat in silence; from the other side of the aisle, all three opposition parties cheered him on. She was there when Chuck Cadman’s vote saved the Martin government from defeat, and she was there when that same government eventually fell.
As a member of Parliament, you stand in your place to vote. Even if it takes an hour and a half a day to do it — which I’m sure you’ll acknowledge it usually does not; in fact, there aren’t even votes scheduled every day — when the bells ring, you take your seat, and you get up and sit down, and get back up and sit down again, for as long as it takes. After all, that’s why you’re here. Ultimately, every debate, every Question Period, every committee meeting, every House showdown or parliamentary power play — it’s all leading up to that moment. This is why you became an MP — to rise on behalf of your constituents, and say “This – yea or nay, in favour or opposed – is where I — we — stand.” It is not something that should be done silently and out of sight. It is the purest, most powerful symbol of parliamentary democracy.
You want to fix the House of Commons? Fine. Pick something that’s broken.
Yes, I am 100% serious about the Speaker’s chair. Don’t test me.