To the Honourable Laurie Hawn,
I am writing you today in regards to an upcoming private members bill proposed by the Honourable Michael Chong known as the “Reform Act”.
I want to register my support for this bill and encourage you to vote for it.
It is my belief, as a PhD Student in Political Science at the University of Alberta, that our Parliamentary institutions have eroded to such a point that there is very little if any accountability within the system. The Conservative party first was elected to government in 2006 campaigning on the theme of accountability and shortly after arriving in office passed the “Accountability Act”. However, since that time offices established to provide accountability by that bill (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office) have come under attack whenever they did not fully agree with the Government’s (or the PMOs) official story. The fact that the PBO would have to go to court to gain access to the information required to do the job of providing accountability is baffling.
However, I want to also note that my support for this bill is not due to any qualms I may have with the current government, but that I firmly believe this to be an excellent bill for strengthening our Parliamentary institutions whether Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, or Thomas Mulcair were to win the next election. Our Parliamentary system is based on holding the confidence of the house, that confidence is too easily come by when the leader of the party has full control over who gets to run for the party and who gets to participate in caucus (the removal of Helena Guergis, whether warranted or not, was a complete debacle from a perspective of due process). Our MPs are currently elected by our ridings and those ridings and riding associations, not the party leader, should have final say over who gets to represent them.
You might wish to respond by saying that the current system provides stability to our governance processes that allows for strong economic management and job creation, etc. Yet other countries have similar parliamentary systems without such dictatorial control by the party leader – as Andrew Coyne notes in his recent column, this power granted to party leaders in our political system is unprecedented in Westminster systems around the globe. I strongly believe that the concerns raise by the centralization of power in the PMO, the very issues this bill intends to address, will strengthen our democracy and that these concerns about our democracy are vastly more significant than any potential threat that instability might present.
Our MPs, like yourself, are elected to represent their constituents. It is an honourable vocation you have chosen and such public service is to be commended. Yet when those Honourable members are not allowed to speak for themselves, to think for themselves, or to act for themselves, they do not bestow upon themselves the honour that their position grants them. I implore you to take this opportunity to take back the honour, and respect your position supposedly grants you.
With humblest respect and sincerity,