Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"Anyone Who Breaks the Code of Conduct Should be Shot"

Did Yvonne Jones actually call PC backbenchers "yah**s"? [(do sign of the cross here) In the name of the Father ..] Cleanse thy mouth out ye beasts of the earth.

Ok, the name Yahoo is intended to be insulting, and though it is not harsh compared to the Premier's street talking reference to Eastern Health ".. they should be shot over there", Speaker Roger Fitzgerald did step in - as the Speaker of the House is expected to - and asked her to apologize.

From time to time politicians break the stated or assumed rules of decorum in the province's house of public representation, and it is the speaker's role to ensure civility. It would have been interesting to see what the Speaker's reaction would have been to Williams' remark had he been so unwise to craft so emotionally, those choice words in the Legislature. Would the Speaker who at times, is "Government-friendly", chastise him with an equal level of emotional anger? Perhaps a future fireworks will explode in the House starting with a man who has a "flare" with words, and we'll see.

Jones' Yahoo insult was hardly newsworthy, but it does help, along with Williams' much more newsworthy comment, to remind MHAs that they are acting as the representatives of the people to be constructive rather than counter-productive, and that they are in positions of influence that should model civility in discourse.

The House of Assembly has a Members Code of Conduct that the Speaker of the House is expected to enforce and promote. This document references the Integrity and Accountability Act which, referring to the Speaker's role in maintaining civil House of Assembly, states:
35. (1) The speaker shall, immediately after the coming into force of
this Act, refer to the standing committee of the House of Assembly on
Privileges and Elections the responsibility of developing and proposing to
the House of Assembly the adoption, by resolution, of a code of conduct
for members to assist members in the discharge of their obligations to the
House of Assembly, their constituents and the public at large by

(a) providing guidance on the standards of conduct expected of
members in discharging their legislative and public duties; and

The document does not spell out personal insults as such. It would seem that the Speaker, speaks this to the members, perhaps at the beginning of the sitting of the House.

In any case, there is an expectation of professional conduct which assumptively includes avoiding insulting remarks. That conduct is formally expected in the House and expected of politicians outside as well.

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