Mamadosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Debate: Point of Order about behaviour in the Senate

Debate: Point of Order about behaviour in the Senate

Debate: Point of Order about behaviour in the Senate

Hon. Percy E. Downe: 

Honourable senators, I’m not sure if it is a point of order either. Obviously, the Speaker will make that decision.

I think it’s important, as we consume more and more time about comments made not only inside but outside the chamber. It slows down the procedures here.

I’d like to relate a couple of things from my personal experience. When I first came to the chamber, the Speaker at the time used to indicate to us that the carpet here is red, not green, meaning we are less partisan and less sharp in our attacks than the House of Commons. That’s how I understood it.

Second, when I came here as a new senator and looked around — and I throw this out for others to consider because we’re all responsible for our own conduct — I came from a highly partisan background. I realized those who opposed what I was saying were not terrible people, they just had a different point of view. When I came to that realization, I looked closely at other senators who were here, and I liked the style at the time of Senator Rompkey, who always talked about the policy and not the person, and always talked about the issue and never the personality.

When he was attacked, he would defend himself in the most useful way. I remember once, of all people, when Senator Segal was heckling him, and he rarely heckled, and Senator Rompkey said, “I can’t hear you, Senator Segal, because I’m reading my speech.” That was the end of that.

I think we all have to be careful about our tone and concentrate on what we’re doing. There is no doubt many were hurt and offended on all sides with what happened the other day, but this is a place of great success and great disappointment. Senator Munson and those who worked on the accessibility bill had great joy a couple of weeks ago when that passed, but there are all kinds of disappointments.

My bill on overseas tax evasion was defeated in the House of Commons, notwithstanding that the Senate sent a message urging the House to do its job. That’s the nature of the chamber. Am I finished? Of course not. I will pick it up after the election and carry on and I’ll look for your support.

There are setbacks and advances but we have to be conscious that it’s a long road. The reason we’re here for a long time is we have a corporate memory and can do ongoing things. These individual slights slow that down because we’re all human. We all resent when something happens to us. We just have to set that aside and focus on the greater good. That’s what Senator Rompkey taught me, and I pass it on to those who want to consider it.