My friend Stephanie is originally from the mainland so she had never been into the Legislature Buildings the way people who have grown up here in Victoria have. So, she asked me if we could go to sit and watch the activities in the House. I hadn’t been since I was young and though I remembered it as a mind numbingly boring activity I agreed. This time it was a lot more interesting than I remembered it being.
We arrived at just after 1 pm and the House was on break (lunch I would assume). So we wandered around a bit. The public isn’t actually allowed to see much, but we wandered around anyway. There were quite a few official looking people with nametags wandering around, but we didn’t think they were MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly for you non-Canadians). At one point we ended up somewhere we shouldn’t have been, but we quickly got out of there and stood around awkwardly. At another point we followed all the dressed up people upstairs, but we didn’t think that was where we were supposed to go and when we asked someone what was going on they mumbled something about prostates.
Weirdly enough I was actually kind of nervous about going into the seating area. A worker told us where to go (up to the third floor) and we took the elevator because Stephanie had never been on it before. Unfortunately we accidentally went to a floor where we weren’t supposed to be so we just stood in the elevator hoping no one would notice us.
When we finally reached the place where we were supposed to be I made Stephanie ask the guards if there was room for us. There was. We had to go through a metal detector – which makes sense, but at the same time seems odd because really, they’re worried someone is going to what – take out a Canadian MLA? Heck, they’re not even that important!
They gave us a little floor plan so we would be able to see who was talking – although we could only see half of the room – the Opposition side. Almost everyone had either a blue striped tie (most of the men), or a scarf (the women). They were really pretty and Stephanie and I both wanted one – we don’t really anymore.
One thing we both noticed – and we both giggled over a little – was the fact that there was NO RESPECT IN THE HOUSE! Quite a few of the MLAs had their phones (mostly Blackberry) out and were texting at various times during the hour and a half we were there. They were also whispering with each other and passing notes! It was like watching a disruptive high school class. And, on top of all that some of them just weren’t there at all. Seriously, I could do that easily.
It started off just as boring as I remembered as they spent at least half an hour making welcoming statements to the important visitors (the ones Stephanie and I had seen with the nametags) and we found out that the scarves and ties were representing prostate cancer awareness. Following this they talked about bills that were on the table – but most of them were just moved forward to “the next sitting of the House after this one”. At one point there was a strange guy sitting next to us who smelled like bubble gum and kept murmuring under his breath – he left just in time for it to get good.
After the boring stuff they began the questioning from the Opposition – and boy did they question! First up was an attack on the Minister of Health about the lack of regulations in halfway houses and it was definitely an attack. One of the opposition members even started yelling.
I think the best part though was during a different “discussion” with the Minister of Health (and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about) when one of the members of the Opposition kept yelling “Oh look, it’s story time, it’s story time!” because it was genuinely hilarious. This was a middle aged man shouting like a child on the playground – and these are the people we elected to run our province.
It wasn’t very comforting, but it was definitely entertaining. Stephanie and I left soon after story time, but I think I would go back.
And hey, if law/grad school doesn’t work out I know I’m capable of arguing like a child – I could be an MLA.