Op-Ed
Dave Levac, MPP

I felt compelled to comment on a situation that happened during the delivery of the “Speech from the Throne” by Ontario’s representative of the Queen, the Lieutenant Governor; David Onley.

Having participated in several of these traditional events, I have deep respect for the time honoured traditions, customs and activities that surround our parliament.

What happened on Monday, March 8th around 2:00pm did take me by surprise.

As we were gently ushered to our seats with a reminder from the Clerk’s table members, a few members were noticeably absent, one more then others; namely the Leader of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition, Tim Hudak.

Once we were called to Order by the Clerk, the LG entered followed by the Premier. Still no Tim Hudak.

We completed the opening parade. Still no Opposition Leader. The traditional, “Pray be seated” was issued by His Honour.

The Throne Speech was started. No Hudak. Then, he enters. Not sheepishly nor contrite nor quickly or quietly. He saunters in from the West side, up the desks to the top of the Opposition side of the House where the overflow of Government members sit (called The Rump) where he smacks a Liberal member with a rolled up bundle of paper on the shoulder in a casual greeting. (Normally not a big deal but under the situation-take a pass Tim). All this while the Queen’s representative is delivering the Throne Speech.

Wait, there’s more. He then glides along the top of the House to the other end of the Opposition Benches to greet with a hearty and lengthy handshake, none other then Randy Hillier, who returned to the House after being ejected by the Speaker for unparliamentary behavior. Still, the speech goes on.

It almost seems like a planned entrance to capture attention for himself and Randy. Very puzzling, given that a base of some support for the Tories comes from the United Empire Loyalists, who value tradition.

It gets better (or worse-depending on one’s standards). We finally have a chance to give undivided respectful attention to the Throne Speech. Or so we thought.

Now the start of round two. Several Conservative members decide this is just a regular day at the legislature and begin to show disrespect to the House and the Queen’s representative by heckling and laughing at parts of the speech. Not whispers to a seatmate but loud (to be heard by all) interjections.

Not an example one would be proud of as a member of any party. The real shame was that the Leader of that party mildly participated alongside this crew of anti-traditionalists and did nothing to stop it.

The content of the speech was indeed the vision and direction of the governing party. It may not have met the expectations of the opposition (surprise). But, the behaviour of the few mentioned was not called for, was very insulting to the traditions of the House, insulting to the Lieutenant Governor, to their party and the people of Ontario.

Interesting note: TVO’s Steve Paikin noticed it, asked Tim Hudak about it during his scrum and all he said was “well…..stuff happens”.

I’m hoping a full apology with no excuses would end this embarrassing saga. I’m not holding my breath.

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