04/30/2012 01:24 EDT | Updated 06/30/2012 05:12 EDT

NDP urges punishment for misbehaving MPs

The NDP wants Speaker Andrew Scheer to impose penalties on MPs who refuse to heed his warnings to behave properly in the House of Commons.

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said Monday that progress has been made since last May's election to improve decorum in the House but there is more work to be done to restore civility, especially during question period.

"The Speaker already has the tools to make this happen, but what is lacking is the political will," Cullen told reporters in the foyer of the Commons.

The NDP is proposing Scheer take questions away from MPs or their parties during question period if they fail to heed his warnings to behave. He said MPs often shout so loudly at the person who is asking a question that he or she cannot be heard and that insults are increasingly personal and demeaning.

Canadians aren't allowed to yell and scream and act like bullies in their workplaces, Cullen said, yet that is how some MPs behave on Parliament Hill.

"The trend has been going in the wrong direction. It has become much more personal, much more vindictive in the attacks, I would offer, and we have seen the inability of many members to do their jobs," he said.

Cullen was asked why he would propose penalties that could target the opposition, since it is mostly NDP and Liberal MPs who ask questions of the Conservatives, but he said his party is willing to be subject to the punishment it is proposing.

He noted that Conservative MPs also ask questions in question period, often known as "planted questions," which give a minister the opportunity to highlight a government policy or announcement.

Cullen said the assignments are coveted and that it would be appropriate punishment for the Speaker to take those away from Conservatives.

He said the NDP is not against passionate debate, but there is a proper way to do it, and while he acknowledged poor behaviour in the House of Commons is a longstanding issue, he said MPs should keep trying to improve it.

"Hope springs eternal, my friend," he said.