Roundup: Once again, the problem is not PMQs

Apparently the topic hasn’t been exhausted, so here we go with round thirty-seven (or thereabouts). We start with Aaron Wherry comparing what happened in Westminster last Wednesday, where Prime Minister Theresa May was on her feet in the Commons for some three-and-a-half hours as she went directly from PMQs to announcing the Brexit plans, to taking questions on it, in a way that the rules in our own House of Commons doesn’t allow. And bully for Wherry that he acknowledged that such a thing couldn’t happen here under our present Standing Orders, but doesn’t quite get to the crux of the issue that our parliamentary culture is so diminished and bastardised when it comes to speaking and debate that even if we changed the rules to allow for such things, that it likely wouldn’t help. He does, however, acknowledge that Trudeau could start making changes around taking all questions one day a week, or announcing more policy in the Commons, if he really wanted to, without having to change the rules.

Chantal Hébert, meanwhile, notes that Trudeau has not really made himself at home in the Commons, starting with doing the bare minimum as an opposition leader, to not really engaging meaningfully when he does show up now, he and his ministers answering in bland pabulum delivered with a smile. From there, she wonders if this disinterest has manifested itself into a kind of tone-deafness as they try to push the proposed changes to the Standing Orders in as poor a manner as they tried to handle the electoral reform debate.

The Globe and Mail’s unsigned editorial on the proposed changes, however, is thin gruel when it comes to engaging on the issue, buying into these notions that the proposed changes are all about crushing the rights of the opposition, not quite articulating the actual role of parliament, while also not grasping what “programming motions” actually are, while propagating this notion that QP only counts if the PM is there, as though the rest of the Cabinet is unworthy of media attention (which really says more about their own perceptions than it does the PM if you ask me). But I’ve said my piece on this again and again, so I’ll let Wherry field this one, because he hits the nail on the head exactly with why this pervasive opinion is part of the problem.

In other words, Globe and Mail, you’re part of the problem, so stop pointing fingers. As for the UK’s practice of ministerial questions, there’s this:

Good reads:

  • Justin Trudeau announced that idle Conservative-era infrastructure money would be earmarked for expanding rail transit in southwestern Ontario.
  • Canada has extended the anti-ISIS mission in Iraq for another three months.
  • We’re also not committing to ponying up more defence spending to meet NATO commitments anytime soon.
  • Craig Forcese offers his assessment of Bill C-22 on a national security committee of parliamentarians as it prepares to head to the Senate.
  • Here’s a look at one of those border crossings in Quebec where irregular asylum seekers are crossing (and being arrested upon doing so).
  • For the fifth anniversary of Trudeau’s fight with Patrick Brazeau, the Star sent a reporter to spar with Trudeau in the boxing ring.
  • Andrew Scheer released a “policy” of labelling foreign oil at the pumps, for which Maclean’s have five very pertinent questions about it.
  • Susan Delacourt looks to Scotland and wonders if left-wing populism might be antidote to right-wing populism. I’m dubious – populism is populism.
  • Andrew Coyne writes about the virtues of caucus selection of party leaders (which is one of the topics I talk more about in The Unbroken Machine).
  • Tabatha Southey takes on the recent rash of Conservatives uncomfortable with “the gay thing.”

Odds and ends:

Michael Ignatieff is ready to do battle with the Hungarian government over Central European University, where he is president and Rector.

Here’s Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz explaining his family history with the Bank and why he signed banknotes the way he did.