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

Friday, June 03, 2016


Forget meaningful reforms to private member's business; cast aside any idea of a functional committee system... the House of Assembly has turned its attention to that most pressing of issues: the intersection of the Standing Orders and Twitter. From the proceedings on Thursday:

However, just because a comment is tweeted or retweeted by a Member does not mean that the comment is not offensive. I remind Members that they are not only bound by the Standing Orders and precedents of this House and of other parliaments, but are also bound by their Code of Conduct. In particular, clause 1 of our code states, “Members shall inform themselves of and shall conduct themselves in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Standing Orders of the House of Assembly, the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Members' Resources and Allowances Rules, the Elections Act, 1991, the House of Assembly Act and this Code of Conduct and shall ensure that their conduct does not bring the integrity of their office or the House of Assembly into disrepute.”

Clause 4 states, in part, “… there will be occasions on which Members will find it necessary to adopt more stringent norms of conduct in order to protect the public interest and to enhance public confidence and trust.”

Members are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with higher standards of ethical practice while holding public office. I call on all Members to respect the integrity of the office they hold and not violate the principles and intent of our rules and precedents, even if not violating the actual provisions. As indicated, we must be held to a higher standard.

There is no prima facie breach of privilege here, and while I could rule today that the statements made are out of order, it is more appropriate that I address the issue of our Standing Orders. Our Standing Orders are very old and were meant to address parliamentary behaviour and conduct of business in this House at a time when social media was not even contemplated. It is my hope that the Standing Orders Committee will commence consideration of the Standing Orders and our practices after the House rises this spring.

Social media can present a great challenge to procedures followed in this House, so I ask that foremost amongst the Committee's considerations should be the use of social media by Members of the House as it pertains to the proceedings of the House in order to ensure that our existing parliamentary practices and conventions adapt to social media use.

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