Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the Tellitorialists the other day, Mr. Speaker, made some hay, Mr. Speaker, not only, Mr. Speaker, out of the Bow-Wow Parliamentarians' overuse of the phrase "Mr. Speaker", Mr. Speaker, but also, Mr. Speaker, of the Hansard editors' application of the editorial pen, Mr. Speaker, in mercifully protecting future readers, Mr. Speaker, of having to put up with repetitive, Mr. Speaker, and redundant, Mr. Speaker, addressing of remarks through Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker:
Jeers: to an inaccurate public record. It behooves us, Mr. Speaker, to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the official record, Mr. Speaker, also known as Hansard, Mr. Speaker, seems to be inaccurate, Mr. Speaker. Specifically, the House of Assembly transcripts are missing several utterances of “Mr. Speaker.” The annoying habit of some members has been glossed over by whoever is writing things down. In a series of answers by Services NL Minister Tony Cornect last week, seven utterances of the term became one in Hansard, then seven became one again, then nine became two, then five became three. If you read the record, you would think the minister only occasionally uttered the term, rather than repeating it ad nauseum. Some shorthand is understandable, such as non-recognized members saying the generic “Hear! Hear!” But this practice leaves a false impression about what was said — or, more accurately, how it was said.So that got a body wondering: is the Bow-Wow Parliament, as many observers sense anecodotally, getting misterspeakerier?
Mr. Speaker, the answer, Mr. Speaker, is yes, Mr. Speaker.
For the purposes of this exercise, misterspeakeriness is measured in the number of instances of "Mr. Speaker", as well as "Mr. Chair/Madam Speaker/Madam Chair", uttered in debate of the House, including when it is resolved into Committee of the Whole, by identified ordinary Members, expressed as a share of total words spoken. "Identified ordinary Members" means that the words of the presiding officer are excluded, as are those of unidentified Members ("Some Hon. Members" or "An Hon. Member"), and those uttered by non-Members, such as the Clerk, the Lieutenant-Governor, or guests.
This chart shows the misterspeakeriness of debate, as recorded in Hansard, in each session of the House of Assembly since Hansard records begin in HTML format.
Subject to possibly changing editorial tastes by the magical gnomes who produce Hansard, there was a pronounced uptick in misterspeakeriness in recent years, though, whether in the real world or due to editorial fashion, it has fallen off somewhat. The increase in misterspeakeriness would appear to be largely driven by an increase on the government benches:
This would tend to confirm the conspiracy-minded belief that increasing misterspeakeriness is a way of diminishing the amount of meaningful, and potentially embarrassing content that comes out of government members' mouths, especially during Question Period. (Some wags have suggested a similar trend is at work in the House of Commons.)
By contrast, here is the trend for the combined opposition side:
(Private to all Members: you only need to address yourself to the Speaker once, off the top.)