Thursday, October 05, 2023

The Times They Are A-Changin'

The new speaker in the House of Commons is a black man -- Greg Fergus. He'll have his hands full -- because he'll have to deal with Pierre Poilievre. Susan Delacourt writes:

Poilievre welcomed Fergus’s election with a partisan slam against the Liberal government — standard fare for the Conservative leader, but unusual on ceremonial occasions in the Commons.

“Common wisdom, our common resources, our common heritage and our common future is determined by the people elected to serve in this place,” Poilievre said after lambasting the “excessively powerful and costly” Liberal government, then pivoting over to his newest political slogan.

“We must always do it with common sense, the common sense of the common people, united for our common home: your home, my home, our house. Let us bring it home.”

It was a demonstration of what Fergus will be up against as he assumes the referee’s job in a highly polarized chamber, where personal antagonism has been running rampant on all sides and no one can resist a partisan swipe.

All sides could do better. But the Conservatives specialize in this kind of rhetoric:

Just last week, Poilievre’s deputy leader, Thornhill MP Melissa Lantsman, refused to comply with an order from the chair to withdraw the word “disgrace,” which she had hurled at Liberal House Leader Karina Gould.

Poilievre, who casts himself as a crusader against “gatekeepers,” has also bristled when warned the rules don’t allow him to refer to another MP’s absence in the House. Despite that long-standing convention, Poilievre regularly and repeatedly mentions it when Trudeau is away from the chamber.

Fergus has pledged to improve things:

“Words matter. Symbols matter. This, I know,” Fergus said in his pre-election address to fellow MPs. “As your Speaker, I will restore, and quickly bring back the honour to this chamber.”

That will not be an easy job. But new people bring new perspectives. The Speaker is a black man. And the new premier of Manitoba is from Canada's First Nations. The times they are a-changin'.

Image: Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS


Danneau said...

Going back a long way, I recall when "The Times They Are A-Changing" was a new song by a relatively new singer and there was a sense that the song encapsulated the spirit of the moment, not hard to perceive, given I was living in San Francisco at a moment when there seemed to be ample evidence that the old order was fraying and a new order was on the horizon. The times have changed, the order not so much, as evidenced by that song being the hook for a Bank of Montreal campaign to move its clients to on-line banking as part of a streamlining and de-personelling, likely something that Bob hadn't considered as a central theme of his work. I would love to see the elections of a Black speaker and a First Nations premier as signals that the long night of the Reagan backlash is on the wane, but given that "progressive" governments have delivered a lot more flowery rhetoric than results over the last decade, and in the face of deepening and increasingly frightening crises of the environment, the economy and social coherence, I'll withhold celebrations until it's really clear that governments have finally found a way to distinguish between politics and governing.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that the change Dylan was writing about is far from being accomplished, Danneau. On the other hand, the changes we're beginning to see have been a long time coming.

Cap said...

Tony Rota did a terrible job as speaker and I'm not sorry to see him go. As Delacourt points out, Rota was unwilling to do his job, which is to enforce the rules of the Commons that MPs have agreed to apply to themselves. While I don't expect a young guy like Greg Fergus to have the gravitas and humour of the UK's John Bercow, I hope that he'll keep his pledge, do his job and start disciplining the unparliamentary behaviour that the Cons have been getting away with for years.

Owen Gray said...

Fergus is the referee, Cap. Let's hope he's a good one.

Northern PoV said...

As always Owen, I find your little spot on the Internets to be very engaging.
You are the eternal optimist, (" the changes we're beginning to see") and we need a few to counterweight collapse-aware among us.

"given that "progressive" governments have delivered a lot more flowery rhetoric than results over the last decade,"
Well said Danneau, and the 'results' they are achieving (via their progressive-greenwashing) are more fossil-fuel expansion everywhere.

As for Bercow, Cap. He had 10 years in the speaker-chair (before he stood-up against BoJo) to find his voice. Fergus is brand new.
And Bercow was amazing but in the end his performance was just another public spectacle and the Labour party brass soon squeezed-out Corbyn and installed a Tory as their leader.

Northern PoV said...

An interesting, topical reference from UK to CDN politics:

Owen Gray said...

I'll let Cap respond to your comment on Bercow, PoV.

Owen Gray said...

Crazy has gone international, PoV.

Cap said...

Actually, I quite agree with NPoV about Starmer being a Tory in Labour clothing. But if you're going to criticize Bercow, you've got to mention that he was suspended by the party after a parliamentary committee found him to be a serial liar and a bully to his staff. Basically, he ended up in the same boat as his nemesis BoJo, which is a real shame.

Owen Gray said...

These days, politicians have a relatively short shelf life, Cap.

Northern PoV said...

Thanks Cap.
I wasn't so much criticizing Bercow. I was trying to point out how his courageous moment was not seized by the UK politicians and public to demand better than the Bojo follies and its sequels.

Hearing about Bercow's other baggage from you reminds me of trying to enjoy a Woody Allen classic or enjoy Eric Clapton's music now that I know more about them than I ever wanted to. ;-)