Heckling in politics: When's the time to draw the line?
Published Friday, December 1, 2017 8:02PM AST
The raucous nature of our legislatures and House of Commons is in the spotlight once again after an MP in Ottawa was kicked out of parliament Thursday for heckling.
Alberta Conservative MP Blake Richards was evicted from the house for the remainder of the day after being ordered out by house speaker Geoff Regan.
In the New Brunswick legislature, both the government and opposition give as a good as they get, with the speaker usually calling both out at the end.
“In certain legislatures and certain parliaments it gets a lot worse. It gets out of hand,” says Saint Thomas University public policy and communciations professor Jamie Gillies.
But an MLA or MP getting kicked out is extremely rare. The last time an MLA was evicted from the New Brunswick legislature was in February 2010.
In Nova Scotia, two MLAs were both tossed on the same day for heckling in May 2016
In a study earlier this year, a majority of MPs who responded called heckling a problem even though two-thirds of MPs admit to doing it.
“I think sometimes it just political theatre,” Gilles says. “Sometimes it distracts from what we think of as the checks in democracy like question period, and then it becomes a larger distraction about the behaviour of politicians.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.