Independent MPs Lack Freedom of Speech

By Brown, Jan | Canadian Speeches, December 1996 | Go to article overview

Independent MPs Lack Freedom of Speech


Brown, Jan, Canadian Speeches


Canada's parliamentary system is fundamentally unfair because it does not allow true freedom of speech. While elected members must have the opportunity to participate in debate, and in the proceedings of parliament, freedom of speech does not mean that members have an unlimited or unrestrained right to speak on every issue or whenever they choose. But, the system is unfair since the way in which the lists of speakers are drawn up means that independent MPs rarely have opportunities to speak in the house. Moreover, while independents may attend committee meetings and be named as associate members they are virtually never allowed to be full committee members. Reforms must be undertaken to rectify this situation, ensuring that independent MPs are given more opportunities to speak in the House and to become full committee members, thus ensuring the basic tenets of parliamentary democracy are satisfied. From a speech to Ontario's Judges and lawyers, Toronto, December 12.

We are currently sitting in the 35th session of Parliament with a high number of MP's, without party status, representing constituents from all across Canada. The last time that such a high number of MP's sat in the House without party recognition was in 1965. It is time that the House recognize this as a significant deficit in terms of opinion and representation in debate and Committee.

Under current parliamentary rules and practice, the opportunities for members with non-party status are limited in matters of debate and committee work. Political parties dominate the ever-increasing role of the House, and it is extremely difficult for members who do not belong to a party or have recognized party status, to have the same influence or to participate as fully as members with recognized affiliation.

We, as Canadians, are living in a political environment that is fueled by cynicism and dissatisfaction. The party system does not recognize all of the interests of the elected members of parliament. Lorne Gunter recently wrote in the Edmonton Journal, "party loyalty is waning by most measures. But, ideological affiliation is deepening (November 7, 1996)." As we approach the 21st century, perhaps it is time that we look at redefining the rules and traditions of our parliamentary system.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental parliamentary privilege. As Professor W.F. Dawson of the University of Alberta said in a 1959 article: "The privilege of freedom of speech is probably the most important and least questioned of all privileges enjoyed by the House. In its most elementary form this privilege was stated in the Bill of Rights which declared that `the freedom of speech and debates of proceedings in parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside of parliament.' Today, it is one of the privileges requested by the Speaker at the beginning of every parliament," in "Parliamentary Privilege in the Canadian House of Commons," The Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol.25, No. 4, November 1959, p.462-470).

Freedom of speech means that members have the right to speak freely in the chamber, without fear of intimidation or challenge. What they say is privileged, protected or immune from being questioned outside of parliament. Joseph Maingot, the former Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel of the House of Commons has said that "The privilege of freedom of speech, though of personal nature, is not so much intended to protect the members against prosecutions for their individual advantage, but to support the rights of people by enabling their representatives to execute the functions of their office without fear either of civil or criminal prosecution," (Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, 1982, p.24).

Members must also be free to speak. This means that they have to have opportunities to participate in debate, and to participate fully in the proceedings of parliament, including parliamentary committees. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Independent MPs Lack Freedom of Speech
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.