On Heckling, or Oral Violations of Standing Order 16



To exclaim, loudly, is no boorish act -

So long as Members honour the contract

That one is silent to let others speak,

To audit discourse with thought forensic.

What worth’s an audience for one’s remarks,

If Prejudice presumes one’s words bulwarks

For Blarney or Prevarication (worse)—

So that every utterance sounds a curse

And every sigh boomerangs as a roar?

Or dissertation occasion outpour

Of “pooh-pooh” or “bah” or “fuddle duddle”

Or “oink-oink,” “yap-yap,” so all thoughts muddle

And the people’s business echoes a brawl—

And Parliament a stop on a pub-crawl—

As if Dr. Seuss has stepped in to preach,

So Beelzebub hub-bub substitutes for Speech—

And balderdash and brouhaha and din

Negate Reason so Philosophy’s Sin;

And rules of Decorum seem writ in rum,

And Babble balloons like brats’ bubblegum…..

To interject a Point of Order’s fine!

But to interrupt speakers by design

Of Outrage pretended, or snarky quip

Suggests one’s Eloquence quits at each lip,

Or that one’d fail a Lie-Detector Test,

So one’s riposte proves Kindergarten jest—

Or barnyard monosyllable, uncouth

Yinkyank, salty as a delinquent youth,

Or some Shakespeare fishwife assaulting ears—

With Wit’s antonyms, synonyms of jeers….

Honourable Members should remember

Standing Order 16, not dismember

This Corps, spiking it with Interjection

(That Savagery mimics Vivisection).

Note accordingly: The desire to heckle

Makes hideous Hyde of gentle Jekyll,

And would besmirch a church as much as schools,

So philosophes degenerate to fools,

And a lecture or a revelation

Becomes conjecture or imprecation;

And all who yahoo like ruffians or thugs

May be ejected—tossed out on their mugs,

As the Sergeant-At- Arms may have to do—

To restore Order the disordered rue.

So to this House, let no impediment

Obstruct the people’s select Government,

For Opposition must not pose nor act

Facetious, supercilious, nor “refract”;

Or else they’re unruly as clowns that ruckus,

Nasty as freaks—or cranks at a circus.

The House of Commons is not for comics—

Despite Pierre Trudeau’s quip! All frolics

And hijinks belong to trapeze artists,

Jugglers, acrobats, somersaulters’ twists,

And buskers on streets, not to elected

Members, whose actions should be respected;

And whose words come sobre, precise, exact—

Scholarly in tone and intoned as Fact.

Squalid is that language meant to lambaste—

Whose weight is piffle and whose worth is waste.

Honourable members, I now appeal

To thy Honour to be honest in zeal,

To protest when opportune, to deny

And contradict when there’s proof of a Lie;

But to refrain from plain Obstinacy

When it’s vain, for such is Profligacy.

Let Truth guide us, never whim for Drama:

What else governs well beloved Canada?



[Commissioned by the Hon. Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons, December 2017.]