Take Off Those Olympic mittens, but the goldfish Bowl is in Order: Props, Exhibits and Displays in Parliaments
Maintaining order is an important part of the Speaker’s responsibility in parliament. In order to protect speech within a chamber, Speakers have long referred to written and unwritten rules and precedents which have limited non-verbal expression to communicate a message – namely props, decorations, displays, exhibits, and certain clothing. However, Speakers in different jurisdictions have opted to make some allowances provided these items do not fundamentally alter the desired decorum. In this article, the author traces the history of such rulings, beginning in Westminster, before surveying Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial parliaments.He concludes by highlighting practices in Australia and New Zealand. The author would like to thank theAssociation of Parliamentary Libraries in Canada for conducting a survey of Canadian jurisdictions for this paper. He is also grateful for the research assistance provided by the Ontario Legislative Library.