What if they actually answered questions in Question Period?

In addition to kudos to the dining room staff and janitors, departing MLAs from both sides of the Legislature yesterday had some helpful advice for those who might be back after the May election.

As the Fifth Session of the 39th Parliament wound down to its final minutes, several Members rose to thank their colleagues, their families, their staff and anyone else they could think of before continuing down the road to political retirement.

Liberal John Les of Chilliwack, for example, left no doubt as to his opinions about Question Period, that half-hour free-for-all where the Opposition hammers the Government and the Government hammers back.

The Hansard version of Les’ remarks: “Now, I know some of you love question period. I do not. I think it is a stupid thing. It brings out the worst in all of us. It is political theatre for the people who sit up there in the press gallery. That’s the only purpose it serves, and I would salute the day when we could cast that aside.”

While it’s little wonder a Liberal wouldn’t be a big fan of QP these days, I was thinking to myself that the problem is not Question Period — which offers one of the few chances for MLAs to drop the gloves and show their true colours — that’s the problem, but the way it is used. If only questions were asked in a comprehensive and respectful way, and were actually answered, and answered by the minister to whom they were asked instead of a government designate whose job it was to avoid answering at all, it would work properly, I thought.

MLA Blair Lekstrom

MLA Blair Lekstrom

Then Blair Lekstrom, the Liberal from Peace River South — one of my favourite MLAs because he’s always seemed like a man who actually says what he thinks — stood up for his own goodbyes and presented a different view: “My colleague John — and I’m sorry about the name, Mr. Speaker — touched on question period. I think there is a place for it, but I do think we can improve on both sides of the House — how we do it. When a question is asked, I’d love nothing more than to see a question answered. We seem to avoid that at all levels.”

As they say in the Legislature, “Hear hear!”

Lekstrom had another interesting point: “I would also like to see one other thing happen. We hear a lot about it when you hear people saying: ‘Take that outside this House and say it outside.’ I don’t think there should be immunity in this chamber. I think there should be respect and that respect carries on whether you are inside this chamber or outside. The ability for all of us to say what is true and factual is important to the fundamental democracy that we live in, and I think immunity should be removed out of these chambers. That’s my view. That’s what I think we can do as legislators.”

I also noticed that almost every one of them got a little choked up as they thanked their families. People do that. I’ve done it. Terry Lake has done it. It’s a testimonial that we’re all humans and there’s nothing more important to us than the love for and of our families. Now if only Christy Clark could have tapped into that.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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