Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Hopeful Starts on Improving Parliament

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Hopeful Starts on Improving Parliament

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Hopeful starts on improving Parliament

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An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published Dec. 4:

Every new government comes into office vowing to make Canada's Parliament and democracy work better. Justin Trudeau's government, with a list of proposed reforms in its campaign platform, is no different.

How successful it will be in living up to promises of "doing politics better" heavily depends on a couple of very basic things.

First, there's the human factor. Will people with the right skills fill positions that can steer Parliament to work more harmoniously and effectively?

Secondly, there's the ability-to-navigate factor when it comes to institutional change. Does the government know which roads are dead ends and how to find practical work-arounds to make headaches like the unelected Senate better, if not perfect?

As Parliament met this week, there were promising steps on both fronts. Veteran Halifax West MP Geoff Regan was elected Speaker of the House of Commons by his colleagues, becoming the first Atlantic Canadian MP in nearly a century to serve as arbiter of the Commons rules.

Mr. Regan says his aim is to apply the rules of debate and procedure fairly and firmly and to create an atmosphere in which members "respect one another, despite our differences."

That's the sort of leadership the House needs and Geoff Regan has strong abilities to deliver it. He is a people person and a solid MP not prone to partisan excess. He has long experience in the House. And having sat on both the government and the opposition benches, he knows from both perspectives how important it is to have fairly administered rules and an atmosphere where questions and answers are respectfully heard. He has made that clear from the start by saying he'll take aim at the heckling that damages the public respect for Parliament. And the importance of fairly applying the rules cannot be over-estimated. The rules enable MPs to hold cabinet to account and it will be the rulings of Geoff Regan that determine if the rules work or not.

Meanwhile, the government laid out how it will try to navigate the treacherous road to Senate reform. …

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