Cheering or Jeering Members of Parliament Open Up About Civility in the House of Commons

Methodology

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How this Research Began

The 305 people with seats in the House of Commons at the time of this survey represented a historical record of a certain time and place.

This is only the second time Canadian MPs have been surveyed on the subject of heckling. The first survey was developed by Mackenzie Grisdale, a member of the non-partisan Parliamentary Internship Programme, in 2011, during the 40th Parliament. At that time, the results were shared in the Canadian Parliamentary Review, Samara’s blog, and the national news media. Samara, along with Mackenzie Grisdale, decided to take on the topic again as heckling and civility in the House is still relevant to MPs’ work.

The 2015 Heckling Survey

The current survey was conducted from April to May 2015. MPs had the option to answer the survey online or on hard copy. MPs were initially invited to participate by email and then received several reminder emails as well as a reminder phone call to their offices. Samara sent the surveys in the MPs' preferred language to MP assistants' email accounts and to the main MP accounts, with a link to PDF versions and Survey Monkey links (all in the MPs' preferred language). All MPs were promised anonymity for their responses. 

In total, 29 MPs responded to the survey. At the time of the survey, 305 MPs were sitting in the House. The statistics in this report are based on the number of responses to each question, not the total number of surveys, as not every MP answered every question. The MPs who responded do not reflect the partisan composition of the House at the time. 

Data was collected and analyzed in Excel. Due to the low response rate, advanced
statistical analysis was not performed. The MPs’ responses should be considered illuminative, rather than definitive. The 2015 report is meant to provide a benchmark and highlight general sentiments expressed among all MPs.

The interview with then-speaker, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, occurred over the
phone on May 7th, 2015, and lasted for approximately 13 minutes.

Samara sincerely thanks all the respondents for their honesty and for contributing to
an important conversation about civility in the House. The fact that nearly 30 MPs took the time—both to answer the questions and provide detailed comments—demonstrates their desire for citizens to understand what’s happening in Canada’s Parliament.

Further research should expand the scope of this research with a larger sample of MPs
to test this report’s findings.

Additional Documentation


For the basic frequencies referred to in "Cheering and Jeering" click here for the Appendix.

To see the survey sent to Members of Parliament, click here

For more information about the methodology, please email Laura Anthony

More on Civility in the House of Commons 

Interested in reading more about civility in the House and ideas for reforming Question Period? Check out the articles listed below.  

Joshua Borden, “Two Sword Lengths Apart: Decorum Within the Ontario Legislative Assembly,” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, June 2013. 

Michael Chong; Libby Davies; Marlene Jennings; Mario Laframboise; Tom Lukiwski,“What do to about Question Period: A Roundtable,” Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol.33(3), 2010.

Mackenzie Grisdale, “Heckling in the House of Commons,” Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol.34(3), 2011.  

Jay Hill, “Reflections on Reforming Question Period,” Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol. 33(4), 2010. 

Glen Pearson, “Some Personal Thoughts on Question Period,” Canadian Parliamentary Review, Vol.33(4), 2010.