A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 28, 2019
“It’s Question Period, not Answer Period”

Canada’s House of Commons has a “Question Period.” A common joke is, “It’s Question Period, not Answer Period.”

The book Democracy Derailed:  A Breakdown of Government Accountability in Alberta—And How to Get It Back on Track (2007) by Kevin Taft explains:

“Question period is the first substantive item of business on the assembly’s daily agenda. Lasting fifty minutes, its purpose is to give members the opportunity to cross-examine the premier and his ministers on priority issues of the day. The official opposition gets to ask the first questions. Strict rules govern the length and structure of questions, and they must pertain directly to government policy. Few rules, however, govern the ruling partv’s responses. (...) There is a reason it’s called question period and not answer period — unless, of course, you are a government backbencher, in which case you will be given a scripted question and will get a scripted answer from a minister.”

“‘I now understand better than ever why this is called question period and not answer period,’ Calgary Reformer Stephen Harper said later” was printed in the Edmonton (Alberta) Journal on January 20, 1994.


Wikipedia: Question Period
Question Period (French: période des questions), known officially as Oral Questions (French: questions orales) occurs each sitting day in the House of Commons of Canada. According to the House of Commons Compendium, “The primary purpose of Question Period is to seek information from the Government and to call it to account for its actions.”

At the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (as well as in several other provinces) questions raised are referred as Oral Questions. In Quebec the QNA term is Oral Questions and Answers.

20 January 1994, Edmonton (Alberta) Journal, “MPs take turns applauding each other; Newcomers nervous on first day” by Norm Ovenden, pg. A3, col. 2:
“I now understand better than ever why this is called question period and not answer period,” Calgary Reformer Stephen Harper said later.

23 October 1999, National Post (Don Mills, ON), “Gray Fog works magic in House—and all is quiet: Deputy PM an old hand at weathering storms” by Paul Wells, pg. A2:
Privately, over a beer, some Liberals just laugh when you tell them they’ve been particularly evasive lately. Tell them they’ve been falling down in their obligation to keep Canadians informed about the government’s comings and goings, and as likely as not they’ll tell you, “Herb always said, it’s called Question Period, not Answer Period.”

Herb is Herb Gray, the ancient Deputy Prime Minister, and the government has no more powerful weapon for evading serious debate

7 February 2000, National Post (Don Mills, ON), “Question period,” pg. A19:
After six weeks of Christmas holidays, Parliament reconvenes today and so does the daily Question Period. For 45 minutes each afternoon, cabinet ministers square off against opposition MPs, who are allowed to pose 35-second questions on any subject.

Real answers are rare—it’s called Question Period, not Answer Period, for a reason. But watching ministers squirm on the hot seat can be revealing in itself. And there is always a slim chance that an unscripted reply might find its way through a minister’s lips.

20 September 2000, Sault Star (Sault Ste. Marie, On=N), “Nervous Stockwell Day works his way through first day in Parliament” by Susan Riley, pg. A4:
OTTAWA—Joe Clark got a warm reception on his first day back in the Commons yesterday --an extended, heartfelt, all-party round of applause—but neophyte Opposition leader Stockwell Day got a roasting.
(...)
By the time Day concluded with a lame old joke ("I can see why they call this Question Period, not Answer Period.") even members of his own caucus were looking tense.

Google Groups: ont.politics
So if Eves loses his byelection bid…
James Goneaux
4/4/02
On Wed, 03 Apr 2002 23:36:30 -0500, JCarrick
wrote:
>[3] There is no absolute requirement that a premier have a seat in the
>house, and he could carry on for months from outside the legislature,
>although the opposition would scream about it.  Members of his cabinet
>would present themselves for Question Period, and give non-answers the
>way they have always done.  (Not that many of the questions deserve
>serious consideration.)

There is a reason why it is called Question Period, and not Answer Period.

Sorry, couldn’t resist: this comes from Herb Gray, who knows a thing or two about non-answers.

Google Books
Democracy Derailed:
A Breakdown of Government Accountability in Alberta—And How to Get It Back on Track

By Kevin Taft
Calgary, Alberta: Red Deer Press
2007
Pg. 47:
Question Period
If you’ve seen television coverage of the Legislative Assembly, it was probably from question period. Question period is unique to legislatures following the British tradition. There is no equivalent, for example, in the United States, so American visitors to the assembly find it puzzling, entertaining and even unnerving.

Question period is the first substantive item of business on the assembly’s daily agenda. Lasting fifty minutes, its purpose is to give members the opportunity to cross-examine the premier and his ministers on priority issues of the day. The official opposition gets to ask the first questions. Strict rules govern the length and structure of questions, and they must pertain directly to government policy. Few rules, however, govern the ruling partv’s responses. (...) There is a reason it’s called question period and not answer period — unless, of course, you are a government backbencher, in which case you will be given a scripted question and will get a scripted answer from a minister.

Twitter
Stephen Hui / 105 Hikes
@StephenHui
BC government document says “It’s Question Period, not Answer Period”: Tyee http://tinyurl.com/cgyel2
4:58 PM - 2 Mar 2009

Twitter
Paul McLeod
@pdmcleod
Bill Estrabooks just said “This is question period, not necessarily answer period” while dodging a question.
12:40 PM - 27 Apr 2010

Twitter
Maclean’s Magazine
@macleans
BLOGS: The Commons: Question Period, not Answer Period: Liberal Judy Foote faces off against the finance minister http://bit.ly/f1j3L2
6:42 PM - 1 Dec 2010

Twitter
shawndearn
@shawndearn
I already came to terms with it being “Question Period” & not “Answer Period,” but Stand-in-my-place-&-lie-about-opposition Period? C’mon.
2:46 PM - 27 May 2015

Twitter
Lorrie Goldstein
@sunlorrie
Today the rule is: It’s Question Period, not Answer Period Lorrie Goldstein added,
Lorry Smith
@CuriousLor
Replying to @sunlorrie
I’m old enough to remember when questions were ‘answered’ in Parliament. At the very least, the response was on topic.
8:53 AM - 13 Jan 2019

The London Free Press (Toronto, ON)
GOLDSTEIN: Screeched-in McKenna commits a classic political gaffe
LORRIE GOLDSTEIN Updated: May 27, 2019
(...)
In fairness, cabinet ministers dodging questions by using bluff and bluster isn’t confined to Liberal governments. The old joke about question period is that “it’s question period, not answer period.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 • Permalink