Questioning Question Period

December 6, 2013

If the intention of the parliament of Canada with Question Period is to distance and disengage itself from the general public, heavilyguardedI say, well done. Mission Accomplished.

Let’s start with the security which is more rigorous than it is when you board a plane. Not once but twice. Empty your pockets. Remove your belt and watch. Give up cell phones, camera. Leave your hat and jacket at the door.

Now, I get it. I guess. National figures on a public stage but there’s a point when you move from routine security to an over-hyped almost militarization. We’re going into the public gallery of the House of Commons, for chrissakes, not travelling into the occupied West Bank.

And what’s the reasoning behind no cameras or cell phones in the galleries? Are state secrets being passed between members’ desks? Even so much as lean over the railing to get a view of the MP speaking on the floor directly below you earns a visit from a security guard — one of many, many security guards — with instructions not to lean over the railing.

Just sit still. Be quiet. stageshowBehave.

Your government is busy, looking out for the country’s interests.

I suspect Friday’s Question Period is not the prime time show. Certainly today, none of the parties seemed to be playing their A teams. No prime minister. No opposition leader. No finance minister, defense minister or the regular attack dogs. Mostly backbenchers, lobbying and deflecting questions back and forth while scrambling to strategically fill empty seats to try and fool the CPAC cameras into filming what looks like a chamber more than half empty.

Even with a full house with all the star players in the line up, I’m hard pressed to see what purpose Question Period serves in our democratic process. It seems like little more than a futile exercise in giving the appearance of openness and transparency. Maybe back in the days before cameras and microphones this was an actual outlet for citizens to witness their elected officials at work. I don’t know. Today it just felt like a staged show. Question. Heckle! Heckle! Non-answer answer. Heckle! Heckle! donnybrookWorse, a half-hearted dress rehearsal of a performance piece that approximates actual governance.

Give me the rough and tumble accessibility of city council and committee meetings anytime. Even at its most dysfunctional (as we’ve seen the past few months) things get done, matters settled, decisions made. It may be awkward and embarrassing at times. Sometimes even counter-productive. (Who will ever forget that time a motion to rescind the five cent plastic bag fee ended up with a complete plastic bag ban?) But it’s out there, wide open for all to see. Just like democracy was meant to be.

unimpressedly submitted by Cityslikr