Monday, 6 June 2011

Of Parliament, Pages and the Privilege to Serve

My son, at the age of 13, was a Page at Queen's Park.

He studied hard to get that spot.  Maps of the chambers on the dining room table, he (and his parents) could name every Member by riding and by seat location by the time it he was ready to take the test.  Once a Page is accepted it is a rigorous course to teach these kids from all over Ontario the rules of Parliament.

As Pages, they cannot show any sign of partisanship.  That's why they wear black and white, so that no Party colour is evident in their dress.  They treat every member equally, and respond when called, performing essential duties of Parliament.  Had a Federal election been called while my son was serving, our family would not have been permitted to plant a lawn sign.  That's how non-partisan Pages MUST be, it even extends to their homes.

A university student Page in Ottawa recently broke the code of non-partisanship and openly protested the Prime Minister on the floor of the Senate.  Shame.  Shame.  Some say they've seen worse behaviour on the floor, and current decorum is at it's lowest in history.  If that were true there'd be no need for the Government benches and Opposition benches to be separated by a distance of exactly two sword lengths; there is a long history of raucous behaviour in the process of making laws.  Let us hope there is a short history of foolish behaviour by officers of the House.

Some praise her, but I can't.  It wasn't courageous, it was a heinous breach of protocol.  Following the argument that her actions are to be applauded, I suppose we should be happy every time Parliament grinds to a halt because some other Page or another non-elected person with access to the chamber decides to get naked and streak, or to egg the PM, play a guitar, hold a sign, wear a rainbow-coloured headband or in some other way make a personal statement of protest.

The young lady's behaviour brought shame to all Pages.  It threatens democracy.  The House of Commons must be the one place where democracy is allowed to run it's course, a course any Canadian will cheer or decry, depending on one's loyalties, depending on exactly what moment in history is unfolding.

Read about this recent silliness here:  and a commentary here

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