Short and Tweet

OTTAWA, April 1, 2014 ― The honourable Andrew Scheer, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons has announced new rules which will henceforth limit the speeches of the members in the House to the length of a tweet ― 140 characters or less. In contrast to much recent legislation, the new rules have received an almost-unanimous support from the parties represented in the House of Commons, with only the separatist Bloc Québécois registering a partial dissent.

Peter Van Loan, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, expressed his party’s satisfaction at the new rules, pointing out that “any matter of substance important to regular hard-working Canadians can easily be expressed in 140 characters. Consider, for example, Prime Minister Harper’s recent tweet on criminal justice: ‘RT if you think rights of victims trump the rights of criminals.’ There is really nothing to add. The so-called experts calling for so-called nuance and details are just trying to hide things from you, or else demonstrating their utter disconnect from the needs and wishes of ordinary people, who have more important things to worry about than public policy, especially now that the NHL playoffs are around the corner.”

For his part, the leader of the opposition, Thomas Mulcair, argued for an even more stringent character limit on MP speeches. “We think that 71 characters should really be quite enough. 50% + 1 vote are enough to determine any public policy issue, including the existence of this country, so 50% + 1 character are enough to express one’s opinion. Longer speeches are really a waste of public hot air that would be better used to finally bring spring to struggling middle-class Canadians.”

The most articulate support for the new rules, however, came from the Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Reminding voters that his father had already pointed out that, away from Parliament Hill, MPs are just a bunch of nobodies, Mr. Trudeau recognized that some of them might have interesting ideas but, he said “they have no name, no fortune, and no beauty, so none of that fucking matters.”

The only criticism of the 140-character limit came from the Bloc Québécois, one of whose four MPs claimed that while not unsound in principle, it failed to give Québec a special status, and thus demonstrated “Ottawa’s contempt for the Québécois and the French language. It is well known,” added the member, “that French words and sentences are, on average, longer than English ones, so we demand a 160-character limit for the members from Québec. It is time for the House of Commons to live up to its recognition of the Québécois nation.”

Author: Leonid Sirota

Law nerd. I teach public law at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom. I studied law at McGill, clerked at the Federal Court of Canada, and did graduate work at the NYU School of Law. I then taught in New Zealand before taking up my current position at Reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: