"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Third Commandment

On Tuesday, the Opposition leader, whether deliberately or otherwise, tested the limits of the Speaker’s patience:
MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of stuff that drives them crazy, and I am glad he admitted it today. I am glad he admitted it today because, Mr. Speaker, it shows that the truth hurts. It shows that you do not want to hear about the blunders, the Williams’ government blunders, Mr. Speaker. These are the things they do not want to hear. They will get up every day and they do not even say the government any more, when they stand in the House or anything; they say the Williams’ government. They do not refer to themselves as the government of the people; because governments are of the people, I remind hon. members. They are of the people, for the people, but over here it is not about the government of the people; it is about the Williams’ government. Every thing is about the Williams’ government.

Let’s talk about the Williams’ government now for a few minutes. Let’s talk about the Williams’ government. Let’s talk about the Abitibi deal, the most costly mistake of any government on a deal since the Upper Churchill was signed forty years ago. That is the legacy of the Williams’ government today, Mr. Speaker. They knew they made a mistake and they waited ten months - ten months - before they put out any release to the public, and guess when they put the release out?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Just a reminder to the hon. member that we are not supposed to use names.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I will not, but it is the members opposite who refer to their government as the Williams’ government so I thought it was acceptable. Every one of them, I think, has used it on occasion, Mr. Speaker. The government I am referring to is the Williams’ government. I will put that on the record and I will refrain from using it, Mr. Speaker.
Admittedly, it’s not the first time this has happened. Ms. Jones herself has previously been called to order on the same issue:
MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, this is not the first member we have seen who has been in a high profile position within the Cabinet of the Williams government, they like to call themselves - they do not call themselves the government; they call themselves the Williams government -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to use the name of the district that the member represents, or the portfolio they represent. The member ought to know full well that it is unparliamentary to name members by their name.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize. I do apologize, Mr. Speaker, but I have heard other members in this House refer to it as the Williams government, and I do apologize if that is unparliamentary.
A couple of political centuries ago, Williams Government took exception to its name being used in vain, with hilarious consequences:

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before adjourning, I just want to take care of two things. First, tomorrow is Private Member’s Day and there was a resolution given by the Member for Humber Valley. I notice in that, Mr. Speaker - and I spoke with the Opposition House Leader on this too - there is a reference in the two whereases to the Williams, and with consent, before it is printed, that should be removed. Because it is Private Member’s Day and I would think there would be an agreement that it would read, whereas the government, as opposed to whereas the Williams’ government; read in both of these.

AN HON. MEMBER: Remove Williams. Remove Williams.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the people will get a chance on that issue, I would say, in the future, Mr. Speaker. If that is in agreement on that. Also, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair understands there is agreement on that and we would -

MR. PARSONS: We do agree to remove the Williams’ from government.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

But they did not say they agreed to remove the William’s government. That is what he indicated there. There is a difference, there is quite a difference.
But what is striking is not how often Members get called out for breaching this bit of Parliamentary protocol, but rather, how often they get away with it. And its’ not as if they have the heat-of-battle excuse that the breaches are inadvertent. Too often, they are pre-meditated and scripted, as in the cases of numerous Ministerial Statements since Danny Williams-Government took office. The practice has continued as recently as Clyde Jackman's on March 25th.

Scripted or otherwise, Tom Marshall alone accounts for nearly one-quarter of the “Williams Government” name-drops in the House, including the only obvious example of a government member getting admonished, nearly two years ago:

MR. T. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, when the Williams government took office in 2000 –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that on a number of occasions now he has referred to the government by using the name of the Premier and that is not appropriate in debate, so I would ask him to refrain from doing that.
Besides the Ministerial Statements, there is the frequent garden-variety backbench sycophancy, of which the Throne Speech debate provided another recent example:

MR. VERGE: There will be more demands placed on health care as our demographic gets older. The Williams government has taken a targeted approach towards health care in this Province, an approach that has been practical and effective.
And that’s just the WilliamsGovernmentiness. It doesn’t include the frequent sycophantic paeans to “Danny Williams”, “Premier Williams”, or “Mr. Williams”, equally as unparliamentary as “Williams Government”, but highly unlikely to ever get called out of order.

Given the near-fanaticism with which the Blue Team at times insist on dropping His Dear Name into every utterance and communication product — unless, of course, they involve delivering unhappy news — it’s actually kind of clever of the opposition to try their own bit of political culture-jamming, and associate “Williams Government” with the negative.

But rules is rules, and the rule has to apply, and be enforced, when His Name is used in praise, as well as when it is taken in vain.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home