Keeping Debate on Topic

Ted Hsu
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I calculate that the House of Commons costs altogether about $1,000 a minute. So I believe it is important that every working minute we focus on the job Canadians elected us to do, which includes debating legislation and policies of the Federal Government. That is why I feel I need to intervene when the conversation and debate strays away from the topic at hand. Recently in the House I was part of a debate on the proposed Fair Rail Freight Services Act, a debate that strayed … a long ways.


Alain Guigère, NDP MP for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC:

Giguere“Thank goodness it was the Conservatives. If the Liberals had done it, they would have sold CN to an American company. Some things never change. Once a Liberal, always a Liberal. It is obvious that people need lobotomies to join the party, and that goes double for people who want to become Liberal MPs.”


That comment drew the following retort from across the floor:

Paul Calandra, Conservative MP for Oak Ridges – Markham, ON:

CalandraPaul_CPC“Mr. Speaker, let me say at the outset that I hope the translation came through wrong because if it was right what I got from it is that the hon. member said that anyone who believed in the Liberal Party, voted for it or took out a membership with it had to have had an intellectual lobotomy. We have seen this from both parties. The member from Winnipeg, whose riding I do not remember, has said that anyone who voted for the Reform Party in the past was just not smart enough, that western Canadians did not know what they were talking about, and that the millions of people who voted for the Reform Party had to be wrong and were not sane Canadians. The official opposition is now saying that anyone who is a member of the Liberal Party must have had an intellectual lobotomy. What is it about the opposition parties that they so disrespect the choices Canadians make? What is it about—”

I have to commend Mr. Calandra for denoucing Mr. Guigère’s comments. However, the debate was straying badly, and I was remembering that $1000 per minute figure. So at this point I rose on a point of order to try and redirect the House back the Fair Rail Freight Services Act.

Ted Hsu, Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands, ON

HsuTed_LibMr. Speaker, I am curious, not about the subject with respect to what my colleague is saying but to the relevance to the bill that we are discussing today.”

At this point the Acting Speaker reminded the House to stay on topic.

Acting Speaker Devolin: “Order. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands raises an important issue, that is, relevance. I would just take the opportunity to remind all hon. members that what they say in their speeches ought to be relevant to the matter before the House. Obviously, there is some latitude in context there and when questions are asked sometimes it relates to the context rather than the bill itself. However, as a general rule I would remind all hon. colleagues to stick to the matter before the House.”

I hate wasting time!

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