and the winner is ……?
Fair Elections is the main discussion in politics this year. The election in 2015, although most likely over a year away at the time of writing this piece, underlies almost every conversation, legislation and procedure in Parliament with all political parties trying to gain one-upmanship upon the other. The newly introduced Fair Elections Act does near nothing to promote “Fairer Elections”. Many might argue that the bill sets democracy back.
and the loser is: the People of Canada? Once Again!
Regardless of the spin politicians spew out over the media, that is all it is, political spin, meant to be impressive but, in service to the public, – nothing – nada – zip.
A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT IS ACCOUNTABLE TO HIS OR HER CONSTITUENTS NOT TO PARTY LEADERSHIP
Brent Rathgeber, December 19, 2013
The seat does not belong to the Party and the Member of Parliament is not the equivalent of a delegate to the US Electoral College (though the parties would like to make them so).
Members of Parliament, Voters, and Democracy in the Canadian House of Commons Dr. Bill Cross (pdf)
If general elections do not provide an opportunity for voters to pass judgment on the views and performance of their MP (and her opponents), then there is little guarantee that members will use any increased power they may garner in the House of Commons to reflect the views of their constituents. Similarly, a party’s leadership is unlikely to cede authority to back bench members who lack a policy mandate from their constituents. The real dilemma then is not the role of the MP in the House of Commons, though this is certainly part of it, but rather the lack of opportunity for voters to first empower and then pass judgment on the job done by their MP. One way to rectify this problem is through reform of our electoral and parliamentary systems to allow voters to cast different votes for their preferred representative and preferred government.
When candidates are chosen by the party leadership and not local voters, it is impossible to argue that they have any mandate from their local voters separate from the party leadership. Similarly, when the governing party ensures the easy renomination of its incumbents, it provides little incentive for them to vigorously defend their constituents’ interests in their House of Commons’ work. Their renomination is automatic and their general election chances lie almost completely with voters’ views of their party’s performance and not with an evaluation of the job of the individual MP.
Latest suggestion for Redesigning Parliament to make it more relevant to Canadians: create a citizen-engaging deliberative body to advise and direct individual MPs. Vaughan Lyon, Professor Emeritus at Trent University outlines his idea for Constituency Parliaments to formalize the connection between MP and constituents, allow the MP to be truly representative and reduce the power of the party.