FACT CHECK: Did Ontario's Conservative Party Give 22 Standing Ovations in One Question Period?
MOSTLY TRUE. On Monday, members of the Progressive Conservative Party gave themselves twenty-nine standing ovations during the legislature's one-hour question period at Queen’s Park.
In Canada, each province and territory’s legislature sets aside an allotted amount of time daily for “question period”—an opportunity for the official opposition to ask about the government’s “policies and administration of public affairs.” In most provinces and territories, question period lasts between half an hour and forty minutes, but in Ontario it lasts one hour.
In a tweet on Monday, Huffington Post’s Queen’s Park reporter, Emma Paling, said that the “PCs gave themselves ~22~ standing ovations in question period” that day. This is something Paling has observed before; she recently wrote an article for HuffPost describing instances of Ford’s caucus interrupting question period with “theatrics.” In August, Ford staffers reportedly used applause to drown out reporters’ questions during a news conference.
In fact, on Monday, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government stood a total of twenty-nine times for standing ovations in response to their own party members’ answers during question period. This means about 3.6 minutes of the allotted hour were spent clapping or waiting for clapping to stop. The Speaker of the House paused the session to remind government that “standing ovations should not be used to interrupt an opposition member's question.” Soon after, Liberal MP for Ottawa-Vanier, Nathalie Des Rosier, said that question period is supposed to be “a forum for accountability, not just a cheerleading for government."
In the first ten minutes of question period, provincial politicians gave approximately ten standing ovations congratulating premier Doug Ford’s answers to two lines of questioning from an NDP opposition member. Sara Singh had asked why former minister Jim Wilson left caucus in early November—the Premier has said it was to deal with “addiction issues,” though there have also been reports of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct—and about Ford’s relationship with MP Michael Tibillo, who was recently transferred from minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.
At one point, conservative party members in the house began a standing ovation approximately three seconds into the Premier’s answer to one of Singh’s questions and clapped for about ten seconds before the Premier resumed speaking.