POLITICS

NDP bid to boost Speaker's power goes to a vote Tuesday

09/29/2014 12:12 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
The New Democratic Party's bid to crack down on ministers and parliamentary secretaries who don't answer the questions they are asked in question period will go to a vote on Tuesday.

MPs will spend Monday debating the pros and cons of the opposition-backed motion, which would give House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer the authority to enforce the rules on relevancy and repetition during the daily back-and-forth between opposition MPs and the government in the House.

Last week, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked Scheer invoke the relevancy rule to compel the prime minister's parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra, to reply to his queries on Canada's military deployment to Iraq after Calandra twice responded with non-sequitur attacks on the NDP's position on Israel.   

Scheer declined to so, which prompted Mulcair to publicly question his "neutrality," which resulted in Scheer docking him his remaining opening round questions.

The following day, Scheer reminded MPs that he can only exercise those powers that the House has explicitly given him, which does not include policing question period.

"To date, the House has not seen fit to alter our practices or to give directions to the Chair in that regard," he noted.

He also hinted that MPs taking shots at his conduct in the Chair in future could face contempt charges.

In response, the NDP put forward a motion that would amend the House rules to allow him to intervene during question period.

On Friday, Calandra delivered a tearful apology in the House.