OK, Cathy Bennett, Sheilagh O'Leary and [Tory to be named at a later date] listen up, we need to talk.
In a couple weeks or months from now, you're going to enter the legislature as the honourable member for Virginia Waters. Congratulations. It's a great honour to serve as an elected representative of the people of the province. I hope you do well.
Other older, wiser, more politically-minded people will show you the ropes, I'm sure, but on that day when you walk into the legislature, please do me a favour: don't fight it. Somebody might tell you that it's a tradition that you get dragged into the legislature. That person probably heard it second hand from somebody else who heard that it was a tradition or whatever. Those people don't know what they're talking about.
There is no tradition that I can find which calls for a newly elected MHA to be dragged into the House. If anything, a new politician should be eager to get into the legislature. Nobody should have to drag you in there.
There is a tradition that the Speaker of the legislature gets dragged into the chair when he's elected by MHAs. There's a good reason for this. Way back in the day, over in jolly old England, when the king still ran everything, it was the Speaker who was responsible for delivering reports from the legislature to the Crown. Sometimes, the King didn't like what the legislature was saying, so he'd have the speaker's head cut off.
If decapitation is one of the on-the-job hazards, then it makes perfect sense that you might need to be dragged in to work. That's where the tradition comes from. You can read about it right here on the UK parliament's website.
So when Ross Wiseman was elected as Speaker back in 2011, he was dragged into the seat and everybody had a good laugh. (Nobody's beheaded a Speaker any time recently, so we can all have a good chuckle about this sort of thing.) Same deal back when Andrew Scheer became speaker of the House of Commons. Laughs all around.
But the thing is, some of us legislative geeks have noticed recently that there's been a bit of tradition-creep happening lately. When newly elected MP Chrystia Freeland showed up in Ottawa, some journalists noted that she apparently had to be dragged into the Commons. A few people even had a laugh or two about it but putting up a struggle didn't make a whole lot of sense.
When Lisa Dempster was escorted into the legislature last fall by interim Liberal Leader Eddie Joyce, I could've sworn I saw her tugging at his arm a little bit. Maybe it was my imagination, but it even looked just a tiny bit like she was tugging towards the Tory side of the House instead of the Liberal benches. (This is even weirder, because frankly, it sometimes seems like not even Tories seem to want to sit in the Tory benches these days.)
And then on Wednesday, Sam Slade (aka Sammy Claus) arrived in the legislature. He didn't really seem to put up a fight, but the Liberals' official Twitter feed seemed to indicate that he was being “dragged” in as well.
Please... Just don't.
So Cathy, Sheilagh, [Tory to be named at a later date] please let's nip this little non-tradition in the bud. Nobody is going to behead you for sitting in the Liberal section of the legislature, I promise. If you're ever elected speaker, put up a fight. Make a show of it. Throw an elbow. Hell, if you can get your hands on the Mace, go down swinging.
But until then, hold your head high, throw your shoulders back, and stride confidently into the House of Assembly. If you need to be dragged into the legislature, then maybe you shouldn't have put your name on the ballot.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said that Lisa Dempster was dragged into the legislature by Dwight Ball. In fact, because the Liberal leadership race was in full swing at the time, Dempster was dragged into the House of Assembly by interim leader Eddie Joyce. This, of course, makes her decision to struggle even more confounding, because nobody fights Joyce and wins.