Days after new restrictions governing cellphone use by students in classrooms by the Ontario government came into effect, there are questions about the use of devices by MPPs during Question Period.
The use of mobile devices is essentially banned unless the devices are being used for educational purposes.
“When in class, students should be focused on their studies and not on social media,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement at the time.
However, Global News counted several dozen cellphones on the desks of MPPs in the legislature on Thursday. Many of the devices being used during Question Period, including Lecce.
Government House Leader Paul Calandra was asked on Thursday if a cellphone ban should be in place for MPPs for the hour-long duration of Question Period.
“I don’t think you can compare students like my daughters, who are 11 and 13 in school, to members of (provincial) parliament in Question Period,” he said.
Many politicians shared the same sentiment, including Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner who was seen on his phone in the house.
“I can pay attention in the provincial legislature and still pay attention to my phone at the same time,” he said.
The new restrictions in classrooms echo those many school boards already have in place.
The opposition NDP said the new restrictions are redundant. Andrea Horwath told Global News Thursday her party never thought the new rules were are needed. As far as a ban in the legislature, she too wasn’t in favour of one.
“It’s going to be important to see where we end up in the legislature but most adults are using cellphones all the time and I think if we are being respectful in the legislature then I think it’s something we shouldn’t be considering,” Horwath said.
When pushed on how the government intends on enforcing the rules, Lecce did not have a clear answer — only saying teachers already act as authority figures to students.
“To be quite frank, I think this is kind of a heart-to-minds exercise. It’s about creating a culture in the classroom,” he said.