Recall

Free Vote - the base of Democracy

Free Vote – the base of Democracy

Recall needs to be made more accessible.
Recall of elected members, be they Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies, or Municipal Council, is not a new idea, nor is it a complicated procedure. It is simply a device whereby elected officials can be subjected, mid election cycle, to the review of the people who elected them.

There has been growing support for the use of recall. Many Canadians find that too many constraints prevent their elected representatives from being responsive to the wishes of constituents. Although many have suggested that more free votes and more relaxed party discipline might help to overcome this problem, such a result cannot be guaranteed. As the Citizens’ Forum reported, many Canadians would opt for ways to discipline them [their elected representatives] more frequently than every four or five years … a mechanism by which an MP can be recalled following a petition signed by an adequate number of his or her constituents.

It is worth noting that as an instrument of direct democracy, the recall mechanism may pose a threat to representative democracy. Indeed, as the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform concluded:

In Canada, the particular vulnerability of the prime minister and cabinet ministers to the use and abuse of the recall would make this instrument of direct democracy especially detrimental to our system of representative democracy.

Gov.Can.Publications

A recall election (also called a recall referendum or representative recall) is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended. Recalls, which are initiated when sufficient voters sign a petition, have a history dating back to the ancient Athenian democracy and are a feature of several contemporary constitutions.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IS ACCOUNTABLE TO HIS OR HER CONSTITUENTS NOT TO PARTY LEADERSHIP
Brent Rathgeber December 19, 2013

In a democracy, sovereignty derives from the citizenry and it is the citizenry that exclusively has standing to complain when its Member crosses the floor or does anything else they may disapprove of.
For this reason, Canada desperately requires Recall Legislation. If a significant number of Hyer’s (or my) constituents felt aggrieved, they could petition for recall, thus triggering a by-election once the requisite benchmark has been reached. It is the local constituency’s decision who and what party, if any, they want to be represented by. It is not the decision or the prerogative of the Regional Minister or the Leader of the ditched party.

The Recall of Elected Members – Peter McCormick
This article explains the recall idea, looks at how it has been used in other countries, outlines how it would might work in Canada and offers some suggestions about what difference recall would make to Canadian politics.

THE EFFECT OF POPULIST DECISION-MAKING ON REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

Recall is a procedure whereby constituents have the power to remove a Member of Parliament or a provincial legislature before his or her term has expired. It is a system “wherein voters can in effect de-elect their representatives in the legislature.” Through an electoral procedure, this power of removal, constitutionally, is either granted to or reserved by the people, depending on the theory of government and sovereignty in the country in question.

Recall is an instrument of direct democracy, reflecting the theory that representatives are merely the delegates of electors, morally bound by the preferences of constituents. With recall, the security of a representative’s position is subject to constituency approval.

In the United States, recall was born of the populist movement in the mid-west and has since been established in a number of states. Canadian farmers’ organizations in the Prairie provinces were sympathetic to the populist movement, and, mainly because of its influence, each of the western provinces began initiating “direct legislation” laws, most of which did not receive Royal Assent or were repealed.

Recently, there has been growing support for the use of recall, since many Canadians find that too many constraints prevent their elected representatives from being responsive to the wishes of their constituents. Although many have suggested that more free votes and more relaxed party discipline might help to overcome this problem, such a result cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, as the Citizens’ Forum reported, many Canadians would opt for ways to discipline them [their elected representatives] more frequently than every four or five years … a mechanism by which an MP can be recalled following a petition signed by an adequate number of his or her constituents.

It is worth noting that as an instrument of direct democracy, the recall mechanism may pose a threat to representative democracy. Indeed, as the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform concluded:
In Canada, the particular vulnerability of the prime minister and cabinet ministers to the use and abuse of the recall would make this instrument of direct democracy especially detrimental to our system of representative democracy.

PARLIAMENT AND DEMOCRACY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: A GUIDE TO GOOD PRACTICE

Right of recall.
46 (1) The electorate in a county or constituency may recall their member of Parliament before the end of the term of the relevant House of Parliament on any of the grounds specified in subsection (2).

(2) A member of Parliament may be recalled on any of the following grounds—

mismanagement of public resources;
desertion of the electorate without reasonable cause, including—
(i) continual absence from the constituency or county;
(ii) failure to adequately represent views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the relevant House;
(iii) failure to participate in the work of the relevant committee or committees of the relevant House in which he is a member; or
(iv) failure to appraise the electorate on the workings of the relevant House and decisions passed by the House; or
conviction for an offence under this Act
(3) A recall of a member of Parliament under subsection (1) shall only be initiated upon a judgement or finding by the High Court confirming the grounds specified in subsection (2).
(4) A recall under subsection (1) shall only be initiated twenty-four months after the election of the member of Parliament and not later than twelve months immediately preceding the next general election.
(5) A recall petition shall not be filed against a member of Parliament more than once during the term of that member in Parliament

Do You favour the recall of elected officials for ethical misconduct or misbehaviour or failure of adequate representation?

Alternative to Recall

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