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Friday, June 13, 2008 

NDP Aide Found Technicality That Allowed First Nations, Innu and Metis Representatives To Speak On The Floor Of Parliament

Going into Wednesday's formal apology to aboriginal survivors of the residential school policy, there were bad feelings that representatives of the survivors would not be allowed to speak on the floor of the House of Commons. It was not the government that was blocking Phil Fontaine and others from speaking, rather, it was the traditions and rules of Parliament itself that does not allow non-members to speak.

Enter, NDP press secretary Ian Capstick with a possible solution. Under the rules of the House of Commons, the House can resolve itself into the 'Committee of the Whole', a technicality that allows all Members to be involved, but where non-Members can give testimony or verbal advice to the House.

Prior to the formal apology ceremony, Capstick raised the possibility of the House resolving itself into Committee of the Whole to NDP Leader Jack Layton. Layton contacted Prime Minister Harper, protocols were verified, and the House Leaders of all four caucuses agreed.

As a result, representatives of the groups represented at the apology, were able to speak and have their works recorded for posterity in Hansard.

The Star

this is interesting because it shows how little the elected politicians know the rules of the house.

In Page Programme training we learned how committee of the whole worked and anybody who remembers would know this is possible. So my logic is if the people who get the water know, then anybody who works for the Speaker such as the Table Officers would know this fairly simple rule.

The funny thing about this is that I sincerely doubt that the various partisans, in both the House and the Senate, who excoriated the government over this didn't know about the traditions that would have prevented this, and used it to try and politicize the apology nonetheless.

All the same, kudos to Ian Capstick. He's an absolute credit to his party, even if his leader isn't always.

Well its not a technicality and nobody had to find it. It is simply a normal part of the Standing Orders.

Antonio, I agree that someone in one of the house business offices should have known how this could be accomplished! When were you a Page ... (if it doesn't date you too much to say LOL)

well dignitaries address the House all the time

they need Committee of the Whole to do that as well.

Call me cynical, but the HoC is a show to many people and sometimes, if the operators of the machine do not know how it functions, it says enough about the state of the macine itself...

Antonio, I would have assumed that the Cons would keep some top notch process people in their House Business (House Leader's) Office - I guess not!

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