If there was a prize for the most Canadian analogy ever, the new House of Commons Speaker may just take it.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period, Geoff Regan compared the daily happenings in the House of Commons to a hockey game.
“Only certain people get to play and it’s shaped in a lot of ways like an arena, with the two sides," said Regan.
“And the people who aren’t actually in the game, they’d like to be in the game, and sometimes want to react to something, want to say something, the way you’d see at a game. But we’re not in a rink. We’re in the House of Commons.”
Regan is trying to restore respect to the Parliamentary sport as he takes on his new role. Here is a summary of Regan’s plans as ruler of the House:
- More respect and no heckling, with an understanding that the House is still a partisan environment: “Every party has a responsibility of presenting an alternative and it is an adversarial process,” said Regan. “It shouldn’t be like a boys' club. It should be a place of respectful debate.”
- A plan to act as both a referee and diplomat in the House of Commons, disciplining when necessary. Regan says he plans to use “a lot more carrot than stick” when enforcing the rules.
- More off-the-cuff MP-to-MP engagement, as opposed to reading pre-written statements in Question Period, something that has become common practice in the House in recent years: “I think the very best questions in the House are the ones from the members who are not reading them.”
- An emphasis on the responsibility of Canadians to express their views to their MPs, and to expect good behaviour from them in the House of Commons.
- Increased confidence in the democratic process and a move away from cynicism towards politics: “Even though we’ve had democracy here for 150 years or so, we shouldn’t take it for granted,” said Regan. “We should treat it as something delicate and fragile, and protect and preserve it.”
- Regan, the first speaker from Nova Scotia since Edgar Nelson Rhodes in 1917, realizes he has challenges ahead as he attempts to tone down the negativity in the House of Commons.
“I think Canadians would like to see a change in the atmosphere in the House and I think we’ve seen a bit of that in the first few days. And I hope to continue that and build on it.”