A Most Engaging Legislative Proposal

Article 11 / 11 , Vol 46 No. 2 (Summer)

A Most Engaging Legislative Proposal

Although a hard-working parliamentarian might be said to be “married to their job,” they may hope to enter a more romantic form of union during their time in office – and indeed, maybe even in the Chamber! But, is such a proposal in order according to Bourinot? Can there be a new Act of Union? Will a parliamentary page be the ring bearer? Of course, none of this really matters to the two people who, for a brief moment, become the sole focus of every eye in the Chamber. Unlike the normal Question Period (which we are reminded again and again is not called Answer Period), when a parliamentarian pops the question to their partner from the floor of the Assembly, they will be waiting with bated breath to hear a definitive response. In this article, the author outlines some occasions when everlasting love was a standing order.

Charlie Feldman

Charlie Feldman is President of the Canadian Study of Parliament Group.

Those who declare “chivalry is dead!” may have overlooked some uniquely romantic moments in Hansard. Indeed, at least two Canadian legislators rose during proceedings with rings in hand to pop the big question, giving a whole new meaning to the concept of ‘pairing’!

In May 2022, Rick Glumac, a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, proposed mid-statement to his girlfriend who was seated in the gallery. The ensuing applause and cheers from colleagues prevented Glumac from hearing Haven Lurbiecki’s answer and he left the Assembly floor to obtain verification.1 The happily-engaged couple gave many interviews later.

While some media reports suggested that the BC case was a Canadian first, on Valentine’s Day 2018, a member of Quebec’s National Assembly, Éric Lefebvre, proposed to his girlfriend, Geneviève Laliberté, then seated in the gallery.2 Before proposing, Lefebvre spoke of the role played by politicians’ partners in supporting them and then apologized to the President of the National Assembly for breaking protocol by addressing his remarks to the gallery. Once the applause died down, the presiding officer – speaking to the gallery – indicated that he did not wish to intrude upon the woman’s personal life but felt that the record should reflect an answer. She said “oui.”

An earlier Canadian close call is also worth noting. According to a press report, MP Guy Lauzon had hoped to propose in the House itself in 2004 (whether from the floor is unclear), but he was thwarted by an emergency debate.3 He proposed in the parliamentary restaurant instead.

The path of Cupid’s arrow has crisscrossed legislatures around the world and examples of proposals from legislators to the gallery can be found in the annals of most U.S. state legislatures. As romantic as some cases may be, one of the earliest examples of a legislator proposing mid-session is decidedly the opposite.

In 1949, E.A. Snow, an Idaho state representative, asked whether the “Lady from Ada” (Ms. Miller) would take a question. He asked whether or not she would marry him and, according to most press reports, she turned red and sat down leaving the query unanswered (some reports say she rushed out of the Chamber). The Speaker ruled the question “leading” and that she did not need to answer, though a short time later she came to the floor to accept the unexpected proposal.

Several months later, Ms. Miller was married – albeit it to a different man. In an interesting twist, it appears journalist Sandor S. Klein’s reporting on the initial engagement in the Legislature was what brought him to Ms. Miller’s attention. Some press outlets had glossed over her reaction entirely, painting the whole scene as one of inspiring romance.4 Reportedly, Ms. Miller called Mr. Klein to a meeting to complain of his prose on her engagement only for romance between the two of them to blossom.5

A member of Australia’s House of Representatives made headlines in 2017 when he proposed to his same-sex partner as the legislature debated marriage equality. The Speaker clarified for Hansard record that there was a resounding yes from the gallery, adding “Congratulations; well done, mate.”6

An Italian MP proposed to his girlfriend mid-debate in 2019. While his grand gesture garnered the support of colleagues, he was met with the scolding of the Speaker (for the breach of protocol). Although the proposal garnered headlines across the globe, some members of the Italian press discovered it was actually a stunt. The couple was already engaged and a wedding venue had long been booked.

Legislators may not be thought of as romantics. Yet, as certain Hansard pages suggest, the divide between working across the aisle and walking down it may not be so big after all.


1 BC Hansard – May 11, 2022 https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/42nd-parliament/3rd-session/20220511pm-Hansard-n204#204B:1355

2 Quebec Hansard – February 14, 2018 https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/travaux-parlementaires/assemblee-nationale/41-1/journal-debats/20180214/213475.html#_Toc506477715

3 Saunders, Terri. “The better halves.” Standard – Freeholder, Cornwall, Ontario, December 30, 2005: 4.

4 See: Life Magazine, 14 March 1949.

5 Sullivan Daily Times, Sullivan, Indiana,Volume 51, Number 143, July 20, 1949: 5.

6 Australian Hansard – (House of Representatives) April 12, 2017 https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard/Hansard_Display?bid=chamber%2Fhansardr%2F72ab0aa3-c3f2-48e1-b365-7e7ac525ceb6%2F&sid=0091