Monday, March 16, 2009

Will the Manitoba Legislature become a "twitter free" zone?

Twitter birds tweeting!

Legislature All A-Twitter At Question Period Time
Speaker issues ultimatum on high-tech habits
By Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald
March 11, 2009

The Speaker of the Alberta legislature is cracking down on the use of all electronic devices by MLAs during question period, as some members appear more intrigued by their digital toys than the ongoings in the assembly.

Ken Kowalski has put all 83 Alberta MLAs on notice after concerns have been expressed about members Twittering, taking photos with camera phones or using Black-Berrys and laptops to aid them during debate in the assembly.

The use of electronic devices during question period is prohibited, with some worried about MLAs taking photos of other members either sleeping, distracted or absent from their seat, with the possibility the offending photo could hit the Internet.

Opposition parties also question whether cabinet ministers are "cheating"by accessing their laptops and BlackBerrys to get help responding to difficult queries.

Kowalski has delivered a few lectures to MLAs in the past couple of weeks about using portable electronic de-vices during question period --issuing verbal warnings and letters--but not everybody seems to be listening.

"Six of you were observed to have been utilizing (BlackBerrys)," he told MLAs Tuesday after question period.

"Please, I've bent over back-wards to try to assist in this," he added. "Let's deal with this or else I'm going to have to deal with this in an entirely different way which would be to the regression of all remaining members."

Calgary-North Hill Tory MLA Kyle Fawcett was caught, during the middle of question period, posting a message to Twitter, a social networking site that sees people routinely update their status.

The offending message appears to be from February 12, when Fawcett posted:"The NDP has a new leader Brian 'Obama' Mason."

On Tuesday, the Speaker called him out, without directly naming him.

"There's something going on in a virtual wonderland called Twittering," he told the assembly.

"And it seems that even as the question period goes on, some (MLAs) have been accessing their BlackBerrys to put some messages in the virtual world . . . C'mon on now."

Fawcett even recognized Tuesday, on Twitter, that he was caught in the act. "Got busted by the speaker for using twitter during QP a few weeks ago!" he posted minutes after question period ended.

Liberal house leader Laurie Blakeman said she understands the Speaker's concerns. All MLAs, from the government and opposition, need to put away their electronic devices during question period.

"We're there for 50 minutes --pay attention!"


Post a Comment

<< Home