Manitoba MP Merv Tweed gave it his best effort today to try and get elected to the Speakers’ chair.
He had the backing of most if not all of his Manitoba Conservative colleagues. He wined and dined other MPs at the convention on the weekend in Winnipeg.
Then today, when MPs, staff and reporters were enduring the six-hour plus display that was the speakers’ election, he brought up the mood with a hospitality suite in the office of MP Steven Fletcher where I’m told other party’s MPs were happy to imbibe in his beverage offerings.
Alas, just as Canadians weren’t prepared to change the make-up of Parliament (well by much anyway) MPs apparently wanted the status quo in the speaker’s chair as well.
So while Tweed made it all the way to the fifth and final ballot and obviously had the support of a significant number of his colleagues, Liberal MP Peter Milliken was sent back to the speaker’s chair for the fourth time.
The question is whether anything will come from the accusations that Milliken’s hands off approach to the role of refereeing the House of Commons contributed in part to the breakdown of decorum. Will Milliken take the criticism to heart and actually start cracking the whip at the worst offenders in Question Period? Will he step in when he finds out parties are using committees for partisan gamesmanship rather than actual work relevant to the goings on in the House of Commons?
But IMO, he shouldn’t have to. Most MPs are saying they want a more civilized environment. They know from the dismal voter turnout and the bashing they get from the public that Canadians are fed up with politics as normal. The economy is unstable and the government has a lot of big decisions to make and get through Parliament in the next little while.
And every single one of the eight MPs who ran for the speaker’s job today talked about the ridiculous behavior in the house.
Milliken can certainly step up his game and send word that the hyper partisan antics of the past will no longer be tolerated. But there are 307 MPs who can do a lot more than Milliken can to make sure this Parliament actually gets something done.