Rookie MP Guidebook Part 3: Behaviour in the House

The third installment in my behind-the-scenes look at a top-secret guidebook given to all 105 rookie MPs on Parliament Hill.

The House Of Commons: Those high ceilings make it tempting. But, please, no beach balls.

Today, some highlights from the guide’s rules of appropriate behaviour in the House of Commons:

As you first set foot in the House of Commons, you will notice the plush, green carpet under your feet. Please treat it with great care, as it is only steam-cleaned once per day (twice, if  Stephane Dion’s Parliament Hill Fight Club has met). Proper footwear is required at all times. Going barefoot is not allowed and has not been since Pierre Trudeau had the carpet replaced with a deep, luxurious shag, for one session in 1974.

When you take your seat, you will notice a few things: There are 3 headset jacks. One is for English translation, the second is for french translation and the third is hardwired into the Galaxie Music Network. Be careful not to get too involved in enjoying the music when the opposition is speaking as nodding your head to the beat may be falsely construed as you being in total agreement with the member. Those listening to the heavy metal channel are asked to refrain from smacking their heads on their desk. Again, this may be misconstrued as support for the member who has the floor.

The Speakers’ Chair is OFF-LIMITS. We do not believe we have to explain that any further. But in case it’s not clear, please refer to the “Inappropriate Behaviour” section, subsection: “After Hours Visitors”, sub-sub-section: “Maxime Bernier.”

“Mr. Speaker, this is an affront to all Canadians. My audio feed should have an all-Chilliwack channel.”

House of Commons Pages are there to assist you. They may relay messages, research precedent and refill water glasses. They may not “go for smokes,”  throw rose petals at your feet as you enter, or sit in for you “for this lame-ass vote on amendments to the Parks Canada procedural guide.”

At the request of the Prime Minister, trap doors have been installed under the seats of all MPs. They are connected to a switch at his desk. Do not be alarmed by a sudden free-fall out of the chamber. Stay calm, curl tightly into a ball and attempt to roll as you land. You will be greeted by a Party Whip, who will inform you as to your House re-admittance time, or escort you to the Parliamentary Library, where you will spend the rest of the session with a rag and a can of “Pledge.”

“Hear, hear,” accompanied by a pounding of your desktop is an acceptable utterance of agreement. “Eat it, Bee-atch!” accompanied by “Double-gunning” of “Devil’s hands” is not. NOTE: One exception to this rule is if John Baird makes a righteous smackdown of an opposition MP.

“Shame,” or  “outrageous” are acceptable forms of derision in the House. Giving “the raspberry” is not, unless you are in the front row, where your spittle will not affect the member seated directly in front of you, and can be effectively removed by the carpet cleaners that evening.

When the Speaker adjourns for the lunch session, leave in a calm, orderly fashion. Do not push or run. The shortage of fajitas in the Parliament Hill Cafeteria has been addressed. There will be plenty for all.

In answer to the most frequently asked question we’ve had from rookie MPs: Yes. When you rise for your first question, ever, in the House, you may take out your iphone and snap a self-portrait of yourself. Be aware, however, that Marc Garneau is quite adept at “photo bombing” new members at this moment.

Finally, no “tweeting” while you are in session, unless it is a blurb about official government business. “OMG, this place smells like old people! #boring” is not official government business.

Enjoy the House Of Commons. It’s like being in a class you really hate, but don’t even have to listen, because some nerd (CPAC) is taking notes for you.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Previously: Handling The Media[/box]


Unveiled: Top Secret Rookie MP Guidebook

The Parliament Hill Cafeteria Can Be a Scary Place For a Newcomer

With 105 rookie Members of Parliament being sworn in on The Hill, there’s bound to be some concern, confusion and consternation among them. Kind of like the first day of high school, without the threat of being hung, by your underwear, on your locker hook. At least, I don’t think they have to worry about that, although John Baird strikes me as someone who’d find that funny.

Rookie MPs: Almost exactly as depicted.

To ease the first day jitters of the fresh meat – er, wide-eyed, super-intelligent, rookies ready to inject a fresh, new energy to their caucus – the Clerk of the Speaker of the House of Commons sends them each a guide to rules and regulations of parliamentary life. It’s not meant to be seen by non – parliamentarians, however, I’ve managed to secure a copy and will give you some of the more important guidelines.

Today, I’ll focus on the rules of the Parliament Hill cafeteria. Here are some verbatim highlights:


As you make your way into the cafeteria for the first time, you’ll be handed two trays. One is for you, the other, for the veteran MP you’ve been assigned to serve. In some cases, NEITHER tray is for you. This means you’ve been assigned a senator. After bringing the tray, or trays, to your designated Luncheon Lord, or Lady, stand quietly, hands clasped behind your back. Wait, silently, until a request for napkin dabbing is made, or you are waved away contemptuously.

Sit in ROOKIE DESIGNATED AREA  ONLY. If you have trouble finding it, as it is not clearly marked, just follow the unmistakable smell of innocence and idealism dying.

“At my signal, unleash butterscotch pudding hell!”

If the Prime Minister enters after you are already in the cafeteria, you have TWO choices: Stand up immediately, or dive under your table until the threat of him seeing you has passed  (This does not apply to opposition members of Parliament, as there is no possibility of the Prime Minister actually noticing you). Do NOT make eye contact with the Prime Minister. If eye contact is inadvertently made, your dessert will automatically be forfeited to backbench scavengers.

Delivery of food items is available for members of the governing party ONLY. First time MPs will do the delivering. It will be guaranteed in 10 minutes. To assist you in speedy delivery, The Honourable Jack Layton has determined that his hip is sufficiently healed, and he no longer needs his EZ-Go cart. He has graciously donated it to Delivery Services. NOTE: Cart availability is subject to suspension, based on how energetic Senator Mike Duffy is feeling that day.  Plan ahead.

Food fights are not uncommon, but are to be started by governing party members ONLY. You will know that one is imminent, if The Honourable Jim Flaherty enters wearing a toga.

Seating arrangements are based on election results. Conservatives and members of the NDP in the main dining hall, Liberal Party members at the kiddie tables in the Centre Block Daycare. The Honourable Leader of the Green Party has not opted in to a meal plan, based on the unavailability of bean sprouts and willow bark tea.

Menu changes: With the securing of a majority government, it has been determined that “Pro-rogies” will no longer be available. One item has been added to the breakfast menu: Sausage, inside a rolled pancake. However, instead of being called “Piggies in a Blanket,” a Royal Commission on cafeteria foodstuffs has determined that they will be known as “Pork In A Barrel.” Not all food items will be available; the menu is subject to change, at any time, at the whim of The Honourable Bev Oda.

Finally, make sure to fill out the “How’d We Do?” comment cards after each and every cafeteria visit. As a newcomer to the Hill, your fresh perspective and new ideas on how the Government of Canada commissary is serving you are very important, and greatly valued. The Harper Government Action Plan Eatery is tired of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Just eat your food and get out.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Next: Part 2: Handling the Media[/box]

Hangin’ With Big Ange

Watch out, Prime Minister Harper.  Big Ange is coming for you.

Click here to see the original article

Big Ange, of course, is legendary Ti-Cat quarterback tracker Angelo Mosca.

He was front and centre at Friday’s CFL Alumni Legends Luncheon, tackling every issue before him – including politics.

Mosca is emotionally invested in the Alumni Association, to the point where he envisions knocking on the PM’s door in order to get some financial help for the group. “You better believe it, I’ll be there in a New York second,”  he said, in response to  the question of whether he’d seek out the Prime Minister himself, for some help.

“I’ve already had some people, who want to make a commitment, but they’re not sure yet,” he said of some unnamed politicians. “But I’m gonna make sure they make a commitment.”

Mosca told me that he knows of “five or six guys” who have dementia or cancer, who “don’t have any money.” And he wants to help.  Even if it means a trip or two to Parliament Hill to twist some arms.

Mosca took the stage at the luncheon, with  few other legends to spin a some yarns about days gone by.  Prior to that, I asked him how it felt to be elbow to elbow with some of them again. “I love it.  Tom Wilkinson…he and I were inducted the same year and he’s the only quarterback I know who wears a XXXL at this stage of life,” he said, with a devilish laugh.

What about your TiCats, Big Ange?
“We have some pretty good football players on that team.  But we’re too nice.  We’re not the Tiger-Cats.”

In other words, not enough eating of the raw?
“I’d have brought the house about eight or nine times in a row (against Argonaut quarterback Cleo Lemon in the East Semi-Final) and let’s find out what he could really do.”

Prediction time, Mr. Mosca: Who’s gonna win the Grey Cup?
“What I saw  in the third and fourth quarters (in the West Final) from the Saskatchewan Roughriders,  oh that was awesome. That’s what defence of old was all about.  And I think that this team, the Roughriders, are really ready to knock on the door.”

The way Big Ange is ready to knock on Prime Minister Harper’s door.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Link: Hangin’ With Big Ange,[/box]