Frankly, I’m sick of politicians and their supporters who try to defend heckling, dishonourable, childish behaviour in the legislature.
Pretty much the only excuse I hear these days is that it’s great political theatre that people like.
That’s nonsense. The evidence supports the opposite conclusion. If that engaged the populace, voting levels would be far higher and politicians would be trusted and respected far more than by just 10%, down from a whopping 13% almost 20 years ago.
So when children, CHILDREN, begin to get fed up with the childish behaviour in the legislature[see below], we know the idiotic behaviour has reached a new low:
If it takes children to help the idiotic politicians that their behaviour is an embarrassment, then so be it.
But I am not holding my breath for change. The political echo chamber is a pretty powerful thing. They often reinforce each other’s bad behaviour and voices from outside their cult often don’t seep in.
But if the children are our future, maybe in a generation or so the behaviour level of politicians may let them actually earn the title “honourable.”
If politicians continue to feel they’re entitled to behave badly and show open contempt for their role as public servants, then they deserve to be respected by even less than 10% of their employers: us.
And frankly, when people are working hard all around the country to ensure employers provide a respectful, non-bullying workplace so people aren’t intimidated and demeaned, watching our politicians roll around in the mud of a disrespectful workplace is just too much to bear.
Teachers at a middle school in Innisfail will no longer take their students to question period at the Alberta legislature after they witnessed the poor behaviour of the members there during a session last fall.
Innisfail Middle School sent a letter to Speaker Gene Zwozdesky, Premier Alison Redford and the leaders of all three opposition parties after 90 Grade 6 students visited the legislature on Nov. 5.
“In the short time we were in session, we witnessed members tell each other that they ‘suck and blow,’ motions across the floor from one representative to another inviting them outside to fight, verbal invitation to fight, and again, numerous reprimands from the Speaker,” the Nov. 22 letter states.
“Our students did not observe elected representatives working on behalf of their constituents to make a better Alberta.”
“Instead the lesson that students took away is that behaviour that is not acceptable at school is commonplace in the legislature.”
CBC requested a copy of the letter after Speaker Gene Zwozdesky made reference to it when reprimanding members of the legislature for rowdy behaviour during Monday’s question period.
The students made the trip to the Alberta legislature as part of their social studies curriculum to get them interested in democracy.
Instead, they saw the legislators talking and yelling over each other. They also heard Doug Griffiths — then the municipal affairs minister — respond to Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith with: “It’s amazing how the opposition finds the ability to suck and blow every single day.”
“A number of the kids looked at me in the legislature that day and said, ‘Are they allowed to say that?’” said Tom Stones, a Grade 6 teacher at Innisfail Middle School.
“A number of the students afterwards said we wouldn’t be allowed to act that way in school,” he added. “And if we did, there would be consequences.”
The poor example set by the members became clear a few days later when the students held a mock legislature session at school.
“As we were assigning the roles for the people to play, one student put up his hand and said, ‘Can I be the guy who asks the other guy to go outside and fight?’” Stones recalled.
“The other teacher and I looked at each other and just went, ‘That is not what we wanted.’”
Innisfail Middle School will continue to take students to the Alberta legislature, but students will not sit through question period.
“We have reached this decision because we feel the experience contradicts our efforts to instil a sense of respect and a desire to become active participants in our representative democracy,” the letter states.
Latest posts by Stephen Elliott-Buckley (see all)
- Against Collective Forgetting - September 1, 2014
- Welcome to the 1,000th Politics, Re-Spun Editorial! - August 11, 2014
- Israel: Rogue State - August 5, 2014