A sad spectacle occurred in Question Period this Tuesday, with an exchange between Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and Paul Calandra, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary. Mulcair asked the government whether the Canadian military mission in Iraq would extend beyond thirty days. Calandra responded by questioning the NDP’s commitment to Israel by discussing inflammatory statements made by one of its fundraisers.
Mulcair, with a witty retort on Paul Calandra confusing Iraq and Israel, asked the question again, to which Calandra gave the same reply. After Mulcair tried for a third time, he used his subsequent question to challenge the Speaker’s neutrality.
According to the House of Commons Compendium of Procedure, Government Ministers (or Parliamentary Secretaries acting on their behalf), when responding to a question, may:
- Answer the question
- Defer their answers
- Make short explanations as to why they cannot furnish an answer at that time; or
- Say nothing