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Over the Line

Posted by ealboim under All

Elly Alboim

In a panel discussion on CBC Radio’s the Current this morning, Senator Pamela Wallin suggested that “Liberal” Speaker of the House Peter Milliken had issued his famous ruling to help build his legacy as Speaker. By labeling him with his party, she clearly implied that he had had partisan motives as well.

For an appointed Senator whose very existence depends on the legitimacy of Parliament and its institutions to question the integrity of a Speaker of the House is remarkable. Presumably if a member of the House did so, there would be consequences.

There is a partisan fury that seizes all parties at this time and particularly those tasked with doing media panels (although as an aside, it is never clear that the cacophony of those panels attracts a single voter). But presumably common sense says there has to be a limit beyond which even partisan rhetoric should not go. Doing damage to the office of the Speaker seems well beyond those limits.

The Conservatives use Ms. Wallin in these situations because of her background and high profile. That is understandable. But precisely because of her credibility and profile, she probably has special responsibilities beyond those of most of her colleagues. Undermining an institution that is central to the functioning of Parliament is not among them. Or at least should not be.

Elly Alboim is an associate professor of journalism and a former CBC TV Parliamentary Bureau Chief