Boy Scout Speaker's aims to bring adult supervision to MPs
He’s got politics in his DNA as a long-time Halifax Liberal MP whose father was a former Nova Scotia premier and wife is a current MLA in Nova Scotia.
During that time, Geoff Regan has made few waves and left no scandalous footprints on the national political landscape.
Mild-mannered, soft-spoken, family-focused, he is, frankly, borderline boring. Given the choice, Regan would rather go for a run or bike ride by himself than hit the town with fellow MPs.
That suggests the new Commons Speaker is an extremely unlikely candidate to become the tough-talking sheriff trying to end the dark art of heckling in the House.
And yet, he seems determined to gag the unruly and enlarged mob of MPs who seem to have excelled in cheap shots, smears and jeers, despite most being newbies with mere weeks in their seats.
He’s scolded, mocked, lectured and pleaded for a change at the precise moment when change should be easiest to implement under a fresh mandate for a new prime minister who preaches respect, tolerance and sunshine.
Alas, so far, Regan has failed. Noise is still a cacophony of snipes and sneers which have, at times, exposed the Speaker himself to boisterous hollers.
Perhaps a new approach is needed that goes beyond comparing animated MPs to Muppet Show characters or shaming Conservatives for mocking a woman minister as 1950s Old School behavior.
A few suggestions come to mind.
Regan should negotiate a ban on Question Period standing ovations. They waste time and serve no useful purpose beyond making the MP in the spotlight feel loved and pumping up surplus energy.
He should continue to crack down on questions without relevance to cabinet ministers and interrupt answers with no connection to the question.
And if all else fails, the Speaker should name particularly outrageous hecklers who show no sign of remorse for bad behavior.
Geoff Regan seems determined to go beyond merely standing to deliver a guppy-like gulping while trying to bring the house to order.
We should urge this Boy Scout Speaker to continue his crusade as parliamentary adult supervisor.
To make the House of Commons safe for elementary school children to observe without their jaws dropping at the spectacle of it all would represent real and welcome change.
That’s the Last Word.