The vast majority of Members of Parliament are NOT the people’s representative to Ottawa… they are Ottawa’s representative to us.
Not exactly the way it’s supposed to work.
Currently all parties impose their will upon our so-called elected representatives so the will of we mere citizens is left rotting in the ditch. This is true of the leadership of the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP.
Former Conservative MP Brent Rathgeber is a prime example of the contempt our party leaders hold their MPs. Mr. Rathgeber fought for openness and transparency (two key Conservative platform planks) brought into the current Conservative government. While his private member’s bill passed, it was not before the government attached amendments that gutted the bill, rendering it useless. Brent Rathgeber resigned from the Conservative Party Caucus as a result, showing great integrity.
I wish the same could be said of our Conservative Party leaders…
While I don’t recall any cases of Liberal MPs resigning under the dictatorial leadership of Jean Cretien the internal rumblings of the Liberal back bench MPs was no different then that it is with today’s Conservative back bench, and for the same reasons. MPs are muzzled at every turn and must get permission before they can speak in Parliament.
How utterly absurd and undemocratic.
The only party this may not be true of is the Green Party, but since they only have 2 MPs in parliament (one of whom left the NDP over this very issue) it is highly unlikely Elizabeth May could convince Bruce Hyer to do as she says over the will of his constituents.
Michael Chong, the MP for Wellington-Halton Hills, wants to see that changed. He wants our elected Members of Parliament to move toward the job they are hired to do – representing the will of we mere citizens – and away from passing on the dictates of party leaders to us.
If you believe, as I do, that our elected representatives must represent OUR will to Ottawa and NOT Ottawa’s will to us, then I urge you to contact your Member of Parliament and encourage him or her to vote YES on The Reform Act 2013 when it comes up for a vote in Parliament.
Only by telling our employees what we expect of them will we ever find our way back to a real representative democracy, something we are miles away from today.
Contact your MP today and tell him or her to vote YES on The Reform Act 2013.
On December 3, 2013 he introduced the Reform Act 2013 with this speech:
Today, I introduced the Reform Act, 2013. The Reform Act is an effort to strengthen Canada’s democratic institutions by restoring the role of elected Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
First, I want to thank James Rajotte, M.P. for Edmonton-Leduc for seconding the bill. He is a veteran parliamentarian, respected by members from all parties. His support is important. I’d also like to thank all those colleagues and Canadians who, over the years, made many, many suggestions on how to improve Canada’s Parliament. And I’d like to thank the people of Wellington County and Halton Hills. Their support and encouragement over the years is the reason for this bill.
The proposals in the Reform Act would reinforce the principle of responsible government. It would make the executive more accountable to the legislature and ensure that party leaders maintain the confidence of their caucuses.
I come from Wellington County. And in the County, there is the village of Elora where there is one of these historical plaques that dot the landscape. The plaque memorializes Charles Clarke, a member of the Legislature who moved to Elora in 1848 and who joined the political reformers of the 1840s in Ontario. He fought for representation by population, universal male suffrage and the secret ballot, as well as for responsible government. When he died in 1909, he had seen most of the policies he had advocated enacted into law.
I tell you this story to indicate that the ideas in this bill are not new ideas, they are very old ideas. They are the ideas that Canada’s democratic institutions are founded upon. If enacted, they would restore Parliament to the way it worked in Canada for many decades. Furthermore, many of the reforms proposed in the Reform Act are similar to current practices in other Westminster parliaments. The Reform Act would, however, codify into statute practices that are currently governed by unwritten convention.
Since Confederation, numerous and gradual changes have eroded the power of the Member of Parliament and centralized it in the party leaders’ offices. As a result, the ability of Members of Parliament to carry out their function has been curtailed by party leadership structures. The Reform Act proposes to address this problem by restoring power to elected Members of Parliament.
In Canada, citizens exercise only one franchise, one vote: A vote for their local Member of Parliament. And they rightfully expect that their local member be responsive to their views.
However, evidence demonstrates that Canadians are becoming increasingly disengaged with their elected Parliament. Recent public opinion research reveals that only 55 per cent of Canadians report being satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada,[i] dropping 20 per cent from 2004.[ii] Voter turnout during federal elections has reached an all-time low, and in the last federal election, four out of ten Canadians chose not to vote.
The Reform Act proposes three main reforms: Restoring local control over party nominations, strengthening caucus as decision-making body, and reinforcing the accountability of party leaders to their caucuses. The Reform Act amends two Acts of Parliament: The Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act. It is important to note that the Reform Act would not come into force until seven days after the next general election.