Jack Layton and his fellow 102 NDP MPs will not heckle or behave badly in the House of Commons. The new Opposition Leader made this commitment Thursday as he unveiled a 43-member shadow cabinet that will go toe-to-toe with Stephen Harper’s 39-member front bench.
Mr. Layton says Canadians sent him back to the Hill – with a much bigger team – to fix Ottawa. Hence, the no-heckling decree
The above is the kind of symbolic gesture that the NDP excels at. It projects a party trying to operate differently, trying to change the toxic tone in Ottawa that EVERYONE agrees is unattractive. It's sort of a no brainer pledge to be honest. What I find frustrating as a Liberal, how we continually give up this sort of messaging, particularly when there is absolutely no downside to speak of. If only we had thought of this idea first. Oh wait, we did, well some poor sap did anyways:
Canadians aren't watching Question Period, a combination of past disgust and present apathy, the daily proceedings of Parliament, mostly inside the beltway stuff, with little resonance in the real world. That plain reality means all the back and forth is irrelevant, which then means, a party which defers doesn't lose anything, they don't suffer, in fact they could potentially gain. What if the Liberals just remained silent when people like Baird hurl the invective? Would it matter with the Canadian public? Absolutely not, so you then conclude, there is nothing to be gained politically from engaging in low road rhetoric in Parliament.
However, there just might be something to be gained, if Liberals came out with their own code of ethical conduct, a template for how Liberal MP's will act, respond and conduct themselves, with the general thesis, a respect and reverence for their place of work, a signal to Canadians that Liberals want to rise out of the gutter. Let the Conservatives act like clowns, Liberals merely sit on their hands, act respectful, ignore, patiently proceed, it really could be a public relations coup.
The reason nobody cares about Parliament, anybody who has viewed proceeding is quickly put off, die hard junkies aside. If Liberals developed a code of conduct, it would be a small gesture to express a desire to operate differently, endorsing the view that Parliament can do better, the institution has lost the public confidence. What do the Liberals have to lose? You lose the small satisfaction in telling Flaherty what a cad he is, or making jokes, or moaning, but again, all that crap gets you nowhere with the public, so what does it matter? Turning the other chin however, in deliberate fashion, might just get some traction, if there is knowledge that the conduct isn't random, but part of a more overarching theme of a Liberal standard.
MP's have already alienated the public, so to continue with the nonsense simply reinforces the irrelevance. Never mind the Speaker of the House, Liberals would be wise to voluntarily develop a different approach, that brings no political risk, and just might project something attractive to people, who are otherwise indifferent.
Someone should hire that clown ;)