Balance of power under question

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The concept of party politics will get a good going over with a private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons Tuesday. With occasional hints at revolt in the Conservative caucus in the past year, the discussion will be interesting.

A central point of the bill tabled by Conservative MP Michael Chong is that too much power has been centralized in the Prime Minister’s Office over the years.

Many charge that Prime Minister Stephen Harper exercises a high degree of control over his caucus, cabinet members and their portfolios. Some might say that’s a good thing, others feel not so much.

As politicians line up on the issue, Chong is hearing support from members across the parties.

The detail in the bill that will most raise eyebrows would be the right within the party, with enough support, to call for a leadership review.

Chong also wants the nomination of candidates for an election to be up to the riding association, rather than the power of signing nomination papers belonging to the party leader.

We can only surmise how the current party leaders will play this out. Whether they allow a free vote on it will have everything to do with the fate of the bill.

Certainly a number of MPs – and their supporters back home – will be interested.

It does raise a number of points about the grassroots level of politics.

Is a party based on a leader with a strong vision about the direction of the country or on a group of elected people who hash out policy as a team?

An interesting parallel to this was criticism directed by some at Justin Trudeau who, as a new leader, began consulting people in his fold for insight into issues facing a government. Some contended that was a sign of weakness or inexperience, and that his father, Pierre Trudeau, certainly wouldn’t have stooped to consulting with others.

Perhaps not. But while some might see a broader collaboration as a sign of insecurity, others would consider that willingness to consult as a strength.

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Recent comments

  • Roy Berger
    December 06, 2013 - 11:57

    Regarding Chong and his piece-meal reform bill. He feels MP's don't have enough power. M.P's do have a voice. They can speak. They can vote. They can break ranks. They are trying to toss out the Senate so they can have emotional, knee-jerk reactions on changing legislation. They can vote their conscience. They vote on laws...regular Canadian citizens aren't allowed to vote on laws. M.P.'s can cross the floor. They can ride the bus and use sidewalks. They can write papers. They have assistants and offices. They can bring issues to our attention. They can visit their Riding Association. They seem to have a great deal more power than the rest of us because they do and it's entrenched. It's not like the public votes on laws. It's not a like a single MP bothered to protest to the Governor General about Parliament being pro-rogued. No, give them nothing that they ask for. The House of Commons will use it against the Canadian people. Remember when we voted on the 1991 Economic proposals? Canadians voted it down in a land slide. Be a long time before Members of Parliament allow a Canadian to vote on a law again, I bet eh. I understand that the first job of a politician is to get elected, you know 'science as a vocation' a la Max Weber but I would like them to be less concerned about re-election. Chong's heart may be in the right place but I'd rather see sixteen year olds lining up for the ballot box and voting booth before I say yes to handing over even more power. Seventeen year olds can join the army. Sixteen year olds can decide how to drive a car. If they are adult enough to be arrested for non-violent crimes, they are certainly old enough to vote. Let them vote. It will raise the political IQ of the average household. These laws will affect them for a life time. Almost 40% of adults don't vote. Let the teens have the franchise that adults are abandoning. There is greater merit to letting 16 year olds vote than their is in Mr. Chong's bill. That's how I see it. Our kids are valid. No more power for the elite. Election Canada did a study on the subject a generation ago. Time for a re-visit, a lot has the omnibus war on youth. No, the MP's that are asking for this are the same ones that have let you down for a life time. Too bad we can't vote on it. But that's crappy democracy.