House Speaker Andrew Scheer 'wouldn't necessarily' engage in discipline debate
Published Sunday, December 15, 2013 2:15PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 15, 2013 2:53PM EST
The Speaker of the House of Commons Andrew Scheer says he “wouldn’t necessarily get engaged” in a political debate about how best to improve the democratic process, but will always ensure Members of Parliament are able to perform their duties in the House of Commons.
In an interview with CTV’s Question Period that aired Sunday, Scheer was asked whether he feels Parliament needs to address issues such as party discipline and the feeling among some MPs that they are unable to speak freely or vote their conscience.
“I wouldn’t necessarily get engaged in the political debate about which method will be most effective at improving the House or improving the democratic process,” Scheer told Question Period.
“But in the chamber, my job is to make sure that individual MPs have the right to perform their duties. And that’s where I try to make sure that whatever agreements the caucuses might come to or whatever party discipline or party structure comes into play for each different party, that’s fine, that’s a relationship between members of that caucus and their leadership. But when it comes into the House, that’s where my role steps in to make sure those members have the ability to perform their duties.”
Scheer, who also chairs the Board of Internal Economy, took aim at critics who say it’s not transparent enough.
He noted that, despite the fact that detailed House information on spending is not made public, the board has taken steps toward making financial information accessible to Canadians.
"There’s the annual fiscal report, there are minutes that are tabled in the House on a regular basis, and each individual MP’s spending reports are now being put up in a more detailed way than they were even back in the early 90s," he said, referring to a brief period when detailed spending estimates for the House were made public under the Chretien government.
"I think it’s safe to say the board has taken several large steps to provide more details to Canadians.”
He noted that the board works on consensus among its members – who come from all the parties -- and that the final decision on whether to release more spending information rests with the board.
"That's a decision for the board, that's a decision for members of the board," he said, noting that as the chair he doesn't vote.
"It will take a well-thought-out, comprehensive examination of how best the board can adapt to the current realities of the expectations for transparency and accountability."
Despite the pressures of the job, Scheer -- who is the youngest Speaker in Canadian history at 34 years of age – said he loves the excitement of being on the House floor.
“I have the best seat in the House for some of the most intense and lively debates in Parliament. And it’s a very unique perspective when you have the prime minister, the leader of the opposition, the leader of the third party or even members of those caucuses go at it back and forth and the whole time they do it it’s right in front of my position as Speaker," he said. "So I like to think there’s no bad seat in the House of Commons, but I’ve got the best one.”