While most of Ottawa was seized Thursday with the budget and/or the testimony of the Chief Electoral Officer, Parliament did get a brand new MP. Craig Scott, the New Democratic winner of the Toronto-Danforth by-election on March 19, offically took the seat that has been vacant since Jack Layton died last summer.
Perhaps you're wondering how he was welcomed to the Commons. Here's a brief timeline of his first hour in the chamber. (Warning: You might not want to read this if you or someone you care about is considering a run for office, believing it to be a grown-up job.)
2 p.m.: Scott is escorted into the House by new leader Thomas Mulcair; many smiles all around.
2:10 p.m. (roughly): Eve Adams, Conservative MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, rises to make a member's statement (known as S.O. 31s in MP shorthand.)
Mr. Speaker, shockingly, the member for Toronto-Danforth has decried sitting judges for having an anti-criminal bias. Unlike that member, I think most Canadians would agree that an anti-criminal bias is a very good thing. Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe, and that is exactly what we are doing. I call on the new leader of the NDP to discipline the new member for his radical soft on crime comments. After all, his party has disciplined rural MPs for much less.Canadians are concerned about crime and they swiftly rejected the opposition's soft on crime agenda in the last election. Perhaps the NDP's new leader and that new member for Toronto-Danforthcan learn from that.
2:45ish: Scott rises to ask his first question in the Commons. It's about the CBC, which was about to take a 10 per cent whack in the budget released later Thursday.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud of the CBC. On the radio, on television and online, the CBC informs, entertains and inspires us, but the Conservatives could not care less. Once again, they are going to cut our public broadcaster's budget. To bad for Canadian culture; too bad for our heritage. When will this government provide adequate funding for that institution, which is a source of pride for Canadians?
2:46ish: Heritage Minister James Moore offers an answer (of sorts) and a sincere welcome.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, regarding the substance of the question, the member will have to wait until 4 p.m. for the budget. As this is the member's first question in the House of Commons, on behalf of all members of the House, I welcome him to the House as the new member for Toronto-Danforth.
2:47ish: Scott asks a supplementary question:
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his welcome. Throughout the life of the CBC and the government, actions do speak louder than words and the government is trying to cripple the CBC with budget cuts, as we will see. Many artists, actors, composers and independent producers depend on the CBC to develop unique content which the CBC then showcases. Many regions of the country depend on the CBC for local content. Will the Conservatives finally support Canadian culture rather than undermine it and support the CBC?
2:48ish: Minister Moore offers a fuller reply:
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the budget item, he will have to wait until 4 o'clock to see the budget. With regard to his broader question about supporting Canadian culture, this government is the only government in the G20 that made a decision as part of our economic action plan not to cut, not to maintain, but to increase funding for arts and culture. We have created two new national museums. We have created the Canada media fund. We have increased our support to the Canada Council for the Arts by 20% to their record level. Our government has delivered for arts and culture in a way that no other government in the world can say that it has.
3:05 p.m.: Mr. Scott rises on a point of order.
Mr. Speaker, I regret that I have to rise on my first day as a sitting member of this House on a point of order arising from statements by members. I have been here for an hour and I already appear to know more about the rules of order of the House than the member from Mississauga.... In the time provided for statements under Standing Order 31, the member levelled a personal attack against me.Mr. Speaker, you would know that your predecessor, Speaker Milliken, in his rulings of June 14, 2010, and December 14, 2010, with respect to statements, expressed his concern with the “unsettling trend towards using members' statements as a vehicle to criticize other members”.According to the book that Ms. O'Brien gave me this morning at my swearing in, statements are meant to cover “virtually any matter of international, national, provincial or local concern”. The intent of the passage, I submit, is not for one member to raise concerns over another member's character or integrity. The book also states that personal attacks, insults and obscenities are not in order.I believe that all members of this Parliament would benefit from a heightened level of order and decorum, particularly in relation to statements by members. As has been accurately pointed out by O'Brien and Bosc in this book, the proceedings of the House are based on a long-standing tradition of respect for the integrity of its members.However, mostly I am disappointed. I have been so inspired by the words, the message and the example of my predecessor, the hon. Jack Layton--
3:10: Ms. Adams replies.
Mr. Speaker, through you, first allow me to welcome the member on his very first day on the job. Happy first day. Certainly there was no smear intended in my S. O. 31. If the hon. member somehow is trying to run from his comments or no longer feels as though he can abide by those comments, perhaps he should stand and apologize. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using an S. O. 31 to highlight his party's hug-a-thug attitude towards criminals and our....
And with that, the Speaker called for order, and Mr. Scott's first hour in the Commons came to a close. We wish him many more happy hours on the job.