MPs keep ripping their pants in the House of Commons — and aren’t happy about it

LISTEN: MPs raise issue over chairs in House of Commons causing rips in their pants

All David Graham wants for Christmas is pants without holes in them.

The seats in the House of Commons have the unfortunate tendency to rip MPs’ pants pockets, according to the Liberal MP, who said he’s had it happen at least six times so far.

The problem, he said, is that when an MP stands up to speak, then sits back down, the pocket sometimes catches on the narrow armrest of the seat, splitting the fabric down the leg along the seam. “Each armrest has three ridges. It’s very decorative, it’s very pretty. But the inner ridge is pointed, so if your pocket catches on it, it’s going to tear. There’s no question about it.”

It’s an issue that crosses party lines, he said.

“One day I had somebody on the Conservative side call me over and say, ‘Come look at this!’ And he showed me he had just freshly torn his pants down to the knee.”

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Although he’s managed to avoid tearing his pockets since October, it’s happened a lot. “The number of times I’ve sat down and said, ‘uh-oh’ and stood back up,” he said. “One time I brought my pants in, there’s a drycleaner on the Hill and they do repairs, and I had them fix it, and I got my pants back and went back to the House and that day, I tore the same pocket again. Like, that’s great. Well done.”

A drycleaner near Parliament Hill confirmed that the shop often has to repair MPs’ torn pockets. “If we fix this problem, we’re going to put somebody out of work,” joked Graham.

“I think everyone has had this issue for years and nobody wanted to be the one to talk about it because it looks so ridiculous to talk about it,” he said, laughing.

So Graham took on the issue, championing it at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on Dec. 8. That day, the committee considered a number of proposals, deciding whether or not they merited further study.

Committee chair Larry Bagnell mentioned the item, listed as “change the design of the seats in the chamber, e.g. the seats in the chamber have the tendency of ripping suit pockets.”

Graham told the committee that he had ripped six pockets since the last election.

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“Are you talking about your suit pockets or your pants pocket?” asked Conservative Tom Lukiwski.

“The pants,” Graham clarified.

“It may be a causation correlation,” interjected the NDP’s Don Davies, who also supported the item.

“Everybody except Scott Reid has had it happen once,” said Graham.

Graham told Global News that he has become more conscious of how he sits back down now, taking care to sit square rather than at an angle. After all, he notes that MPs have to foot the bill for repairs themselves.

“It’s an out-of-pocket expense.”

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