The job as a Member of Parliament
There is no job description for a member of parliament. Political scientists, civil servants and politicians themselves have long struggled to define the complex combination of moral and ethical obligations that make up the relationship between constituents and elected politicians. This article examines the concept of responsibility or “duty” as it is owed by members of the House of Commons to constituents. It outlines the concept of a fiduciary relationship and fiduciary duty, and provides a brief summary of how, in law, fiduciary relationships have expanded beyond the original application to trustees and beneficiaries. It also reviews the obligations attached to our elected representatives, and then outlines the case for extending fiduciary duty to elected members of parliament. Finally, it examines the consequences of the application of fiduciary duty, referring specifically to the advantages and disadvantages of such a change. This approach provides an opportunity to probe deeper into the relationship that exists between a member of parliament and a citizen, to look at the foundation of this relationship, and to find – through the concept of fiduciary duty – a minimum, legal threshold of accountability to which all members of parliament must rise.
What I Would Do to Make Canada’s Democracy Stronger – Ralph Goodale
To fix the malaise eroding our democracy, Canadians need a rich combination of party, electoral and Parliamentary reforms. Here are a few suggestions to contribute to a debate on this topic which I hope will become irresistible.
MPs should be free to vote on most matters as their conscience and judgment dictate. They should not be “whipped” by the Leader’s office to toe-the-line on virtually everything, as seems to be the case today. (Ministers) should not simply rely on the Whip to enforce support — they should earn it by merit.
MPs should feel free to question and vote against individual spending items in the Estimates
A common characteristic of many of these ideas is a power shift — less control in the hands of the Prime Minister and Party bosses, more control in the hands of ordinary Canadians and individual MPs.
The result will be more individual responsibility and accountability. The quality of local candidates will become vital — there will be little room for the so-called “door knobs” or “trained seals.” Voting will actually matter. Democracy will be enhanced.
….(Elizabeth) May was trying to make a point and the shouting from the opposition bench was uncalled for and unnecessary. The NDP could hardly be blamed for it, nor would the Liberals if they had done it or the Conservatives (who are no strangers to heckling). This is the culture of the House of Commons and the extent to which it has gotten worse is unquestionable. Why then are we so accepting of poor behaviour in the people we elect to represent us in Ottawa?
When children come to class at the primary level I expect them to have their homework done. …… Why MPs and Cabinet Ministers are permitted to read prepared statements and talking points is beyond me.
All this is to say we, as the electorate, have a certain level of expectations for children at school: don’t be rude, respect each other and your teachers and complete your work to the best of your ability and with maximum effort. I certainly don’t think that it’s too much then to ask the same of our MPs and our government.
….. If we continue to remain silent as our elected “adults” act like children while they represent us, then perhaps we deserve to have things like prorogation, shuttered committees, democracy defying omnibus bills and cancelled provincial legislatures. I don’t believe all is lost but we must first make our voices heard before our elected administrators will change. Complacency is no longer an option.
Samara shines light on Canadian democracy and encourages Canadians’ participation in public life. We know there’s something wrong with our politics and we know people are opting out in growing numbers. So what can we do about it?
What’s the biggest challenge facing Parliament in the 21st century? …. centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s Office. Samara volunteer Steven Lee writes that this process began with PM Trudeau, and has been undermining Parliamentarians’ ability to represent their constituents ever since.
“For now, citizens have lost faith in politicians. However, they trust their fellow citizens…One solution then is to more frequently take … key issues outside Parliament. Trust the people.”
ensuring the public’s interests, desires and demands are represented in parliament.
Create capability for voters to petition Parliament to change policies … A threshold level of petition numbers should compel the petition matter be placed first on the order paper.