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No chatting over “the rail,” Legislature Speaker tells P.E.I. politicians

['<p>Speaker Buck Watts</p>']
FILE PHOTO: Speaker Buck Watts, right. ©THE GUARDIAN

Comments from an MLA to members of the media led Speaker Buck Watts to ask politicians not to hold conversations across the rail.

Watts delivered the ruling before Tuesday’s question period in response to a point of order Transportation Minister Paula Biggar raised last week.

Biggar objected to Opposition MLA Steven Myers talking to the media from the legislature floor.

Watts said conversations with people who are outside the rail contribute to background noise in the chamber and can be considered interruptions during debates.

The legislature floor’s boundary is called the rail.   

Watts asked MLAs and people outside the rail not to have conversations during proceedings.

He also raised the possibility that comments made over the rail wouldn’t fall under parliamentary privilege, which protects MLAs from criminal or civil action. 

“Words spoken, or overheard, in the house that do not form part of the official record of proceedings but are nevertheless reproduced publically could well lead to unintended and unwanted consequences,” Watts said. 

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