Reform Act Resonates …

… quickly … over a wide cross-section of people.

Michael Chong, a Conservative backbencher from Ontario, was originally slated to present a private member’s bill this coming Thursday. His bill, a product of a small group of MP’s who disagree with elected politico party members being little more than whipped appendages to the party leader, has garnered a lot of attention. So much so that he intends to introduce it on Tuesday instead.

All of this reaction is in advance of actually seeing the text of the bill. Chong is an interesting politico. He resigned from his ministerial Intergovernmental Affairs cabinet position over the recognition of Quebec as a distinct nation within Canada.

From Wikipedia:

Chong is primarily known as a fiscal conservative, and is considered a moderate in his party. He declared his personal support for the Kyoto Protocol during the 2004 federal election, despite his party’s opposition to the measure.[11] He supported Elizabeth Witmer‘s bid to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in 2001-02, and supported John Tory for the same position in 2004.[12]

Chong wrote an opinion editorial for the Globe and Mail newspaper in late 2004 entitled “Canadians without hyphens”, criticizing John Barber’s suggestion that there were not enough Chinese-Canadian MPs representing areas with large Chinese populations. Chong noted he was elected in a riding with a 97% caucasian population, while John McCallum was elected in Markham—Unionville, which is more than 60% Asian. Chong argued that these results reflected his idea of Canada, adding that he favoured the creation of a “common Canadian identity that will allow for greater understanding among ethnic groups”.[13]

Like most Conservative MPs, Chong voted against the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Canada in 2005. A majority of MPs from other parties supported the measure, however, and same-sex marriages were granted legal recognition. In December 2006, Chong reversed his previous position and became one of thirteen Conservative MPs to vote against re-opening the marriage debate.[14]

From Chong’s website:

Due to the interest surrounding the content of the bill, I have decided to introduce it in the House of Commons earlier than previously planned. This will allow me to release the text of the bill to the public and explain its content to Canadians. The bill will now be introduced on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013 shortly after 10:00 AM EST.

I look forward to a vigourous debate on the merits of these proposed reforms to Canada’s Parliament and hope the bill will receive multi-party support.

Andrew Coyne’s column Reform Act bill would change Canada’s parliament forever (National Post: Nov. 29 2013) is a great introduction to the bill’s intent and implications … for all parties. Coyne’s full article is an important read.

Should it pass, Parliament would never be the same again. The bill would fundamentally recast the relationship between party leaders and caucuses, and with it the whole structure of our politics. The balance of power would shift, irrevocably, in favour of MPs and their riding associations, and away from the leaders and their apparatchiks. In sum, this is a vastly consequential bill, and fully deserving of the historical echoes in its short title: The Reform Act 2013.

In brief, the bill would do three things:

Twitter discussion has also been interesting and for a change, productive.  Check out #ReformAct on your twitter feed of choice.

Right here on Aim High, there’s been a renewed discussion on ideas of representation and accountability. Check out Ian Wickett’s articles in either the Most Viewed or Recent Comments sections in the middle front page column. In particular, the post Return to Responsible Government by Ian Wickett from two and a half years ago is germane today.

Also, check out a website called that has sprouted up in support of Chong’s upcoming proposal. It’s urging folks to contact their MP’s and to spread the word. Done!

The discussion so far has emphasized that this should apply to all parties, that there is nothing radical in giving the caucus more power similar to what is already in place in England and Australia and that this would transform the role of elected representatives in the H of C. The downsides of a PM having to manage factions within their own parties has also been highlighted.

A very interesting discussion that deserves some consideration and appraisal.

Stay tuned!

… and your reform (that’s a small ‘R’) thoughts?

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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