B.C.'s Speaker cracks down on legislature name-calling

Speaker Darryl Plecas says directing mocking nicknames at ministers during question period is disrespectful — but the B.C. Liberals say creative titles have long been part of the debates.

Opposition Liberals say they're exercising their freedom of speech

Speaker of the legislature Darryl Plecas says the mocking titles used for ministers by the opposition are disrespectful. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

The speaker of the B.C. Legislature is cracking down on the use of mocking titles during question period. 

The Liberals have used mocking titles to lob questions at government ministers during question period — titles like the "Minister of Intimidation" or the "Minister of Gridlock."

On Tuesday, Speaker Darryl Plecas said the name-calling has to stop.

"Unofficial and sometimes mocking or derogatory titles when directing a question to a minister of the crown is indeed disrespectful to the minister and reflects poorly on this institution," he said.

But Liberal MLA Mike de Jong says creative titles have long been part of Parliamentary language, arguing that similar barbs were tossed at the Liberals while they were in power.

"For the opposition to want to make a point during the course of the debate by referring to the minister of job loss, that is not unparliamentary, it's fundamental freedom of speech," he said.

The B.C. Liberals and Plecas, who was elected as a B.C. Liberal MLA, share a famously tense relationship.

When Plecas put his name forward as Speaker, it strengthened the NDP government's position in the minority parliament, ensuring the party didn't lose a voting MLA to sit in the position.

For that move, the Speaker was kicked out of the Liberal party. At the time, the party described his actions as a "betrayal."

With files from Megan Thomas