Should MPs be allowed to tweet while in Parliament?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Pat Martin's use of off-colour language in a tweet, while physically sitting in the House of Commons, caused a stir throughout the entire country on Wednesday.

Since the incident, discussion about the appropriateness of Martin's 'F-bomb's' has been debated ad nauseam.

What's not being discussed, however, is whether Martin's tweet should be the impetus for Ottawa to ban parliamentarians from tweeting during parliamentary sessions.

215 MPs have Twitter accounts according to Politwitter.ca and many tweet while in the august chamber.

The National Football League has barred its players from tweeting during a game.  Students in many school districts are not allowed to partake in any form of social media during school hours.

Why should it be any different for parliamentarians?

Shouldn't members be focusing on parliamentary business?  Shouldn't they be listening to their colleagues speak on the issues of the day rather than typing on their smart phones?

MPs in Britain recently tackled the issue of tweeting in their parliament.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader, Simon Hughes, argued in favour of the ban stating members distracted by a handheld device would appear "disconnected" from parliament.

"It looks pretty bad if people spend their time in a debate looking at papers that aren't anything to do with it," he told the Commons, according to the Guardian Newspaper.

"I think it looks even less connected with the debate if people spend all their time playing around with bits of electronic machinery. If we're here we should be taking part in the debate … the administration of our lives should happen outside here, not in here."

Despite Hughes' impassioned speech,  British MPs voted against the move to block the use of Twitter by a vote of 206 to 63.

Regardless of the vote in the UK,  shouldn't we be having the debate in this country as well?