The Saskatchewan Legislature has decided to allow infant children of MLAs into sessions to accommodate young child-bearing mothers.
To some observers this action was long overdue, bringing Saskatchewan in line with modern practices.
To some observers, the attendance of infants in the Legislature will just add a few members to what already is an adult day care populated by noisy, shouting politicians.
Other observers think, or wish, the presence of cuddly infants will create a civil, more restrained atmosphere with the presence of a new generation casting influence on decisions.
Most decisions now are made over money, or not enough of it. Will an infant or two in the room change attitudes?
There is some hope that the presence of infants will reduce the thunderous desk-pounding and loud heckling by members. Who wants to keep waking up the baby? Although some will argue the Saskatchewan Legislature already has a larger than desirable share of crybabies and infantile behaviour.
Imagine the following exchange in a legislature with infants in attendance.
Loud desk pounding comes after an MLA speaks and an infant, wakened from sleep, can be heard crying over the pandemonium.
Mr. Speaker says: “Order. Order. We are disturbing an honourable member’s daughter.
Heard from a back bencher: “Maybe the baby is hungry and needs to suckle.”
Retort from an opposition MLA: “You mean like this government lets its business supporters suck government coffers while letting thousands live in poverty.”
Mr. Speaker: “Order. Order.”
Order is restored and question period resumes.
“Mr Speaker,” says an opposition MLA, “I wish to know why this government refuses to implement the federal carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gases when the global scientific community overwhelmingly warns the time to prevent disastrous climate change is disappearing. Is this government refusing to believe in climate change?”
Government leader: “Mr Speaker the member opposite distorts our policy. We are not climate change deniers. We have a made-in-Saskatchewan policy to deal with climate change. If the opposition is so gung-ho on the environment, why isn’t the baby across the aisle wearing cloth diapers instead of paper?”
Opposition members in unison: “Oh my God!”
Mr. Speaker. “Order. Order.”
Order is restored and question period resumes after considerable desk thumping on all sides of the House.
“Mr. Speaker,” says an opposition MLA, “Why does this government refuse to accept that a carbon tax is the way to go? The carbon tax is intended to ration carbon fuel by making it more expensive. Under the market system supported by this government price increases are used to ration goods. They work by reducing use and fostering alternatives, in this case, solar and wind energy, or more fuel-efficient machines.”
Government leader: “How can a so-called carbon tax be effective when 90 per cent of the tax collected is returned to the taxpayers? This carbon tax takes hard-earned money from the right pocket and puts it back in the left pocket. Where is the sense in that?”
“Mr. Speaker,” says an opposition MLA, “The tax will reduce carbon use and encourage alternative energy like biofuels. The return of carbon tax will compensate taxpayers hit the hardest.”
Government leader: “We believe in a made-in-Saskatchewan policy that does not create uncompetitive conditions for our farmers and our industry, in particular our oil and gas exporters.”
Later, a 12-year-old observing the legislature asks his MLA father; “Why do you guys fight and argue all the time? You always tell me I have to get along with my sisters and brothers.”
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org