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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Presented without further comment from the public record, Part 5

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. McLeod.

Speaker's Ruling

Before I proceed to written questions, colleagues, I want to provide a ruling on Written Question 54-15(5) asked by Mr. Hawkins to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment last Friday regarding funding for [Name of community withheld] schools.

This written question was in fact a series of 33 questions.

Rule 39(1) reads as follows: A question which would be likely to require a detailed or complex answer, or which would not reasonably be assumed to be within the present knowledge of the Minister, should be posed as a written question.

Members will know that this rule has been loosely applied by the Chair in the past. This was done for the benefit of Members and in the interest of full and open debate in this House. Like many things, however, when practices or privileges are misused, the intervention of the Chair is often required to set matters right. Previous Speakers have also cautioned Members about the
proper use of written questions.

Written questions are intended to provide Members with an opportunity to seek complex, detailed and lengthy information from a Minister that they would not likely have at their disposal, or that would more appropriately be provided in written form due to the nature of the information being sought.

Written questions are not intended to be an indirect way of extending oral question period. They are not intended to be an opportunity for Members to make statements, engage in debate or grandstand, nor should they be unreasonably long.

In my view, none of Mr. Hawkins' questions met the criteria for a written question.


MR. SPEAKER: He is not the first Member to use written questions in a manner that does not exactly fit their true purpose. However, the volume of questions asked clearly constitutes a misuse of the spirit and intent of rules and, frankly, was a waste of the valuable time of this House and its Members. I, therefore, rule Written Question 55-15(5) out of order and direct that the question be removed from the orders of the day and struck from Hansard. The Minister is under no obligation to provide a response.

In the future, the Chair will apply a strict interpretation of Rule 39(1). Written questions must not be asked in lieu of properly worded oral questions and must be in writing on the prescribed forms that can be obtained from the Clerk's office. Members should clearly be reading from a written text when asking written questions. Thank you, Members.


Written questions. The honourable Member from [Name of community withheld] Centre, Mr. Hawkins.


Written Question 57-15(5): Catholic Students In [Name of community withheld]Separate School System

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have one detailed question today not likely for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment not likely to have typically in their purview.

Mr. Speaker, noting that in other cities in Canada, such as Calgary, Alberta, you have to be baptized into the Catholic Faith in order to be a student in their Catholic School System. What information can the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment provide to me as to the details of how many children in the [Name of community withheld] Catholic School system have identified themselves as being of the Catholic faith, and, further, how does that break down per school in their district?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Hawkins.