Whom Do You Serve?
While researching for information on Parliamentary Reform. I have come to the conclusion that Parliamentary reform of any meaningful form will not come via elected politicians, it is not in their political interest to do so. Therefore, I am proposing:
A citizen driven, grass roots, cross party, association in every riding whose mission will be to oversee the performance of the MP elected to represent their interests, regardless of party affiliation, through a pre-signed election contract stating that the elected MP will first and foremost serve the interests of the constituents and country only, ignoring all pressures placed upon him/her by the party on penalty of being removed from office by the electorate. In other words; “Do the job of an MP and represent your riding and not be just a party puppet.”
As we see by the lack of Parliamentary Democracy and the ever increasing Parliamentary Dictatorship by the majority party, reforms to Parliament are not about to come through Parliament. It is time for citizens, the voting public to take matters into their own hands via the only option left open to us, a riding association committee controlled “Election Contract”.
A contract between the citizens of the riding and the elected candidate to conduct themselves conclusive to open, free, consultative government responsible first and primarily to the constituents who elected him/her.
Read: Ottawa, We Have a Problem
Electoral District Associations, hopefully with the blessings of Elections Canada, will form one association committee to oversee the performance of the Member of Parliament for their Electoral District regardless from which party the MP belongs. Before each election the association committee will ask each candidate to sign a contract with the Riding as to how they shall be expected to perform in Parliament. The contract will give the association the power to remove the MP from representing their riding if contract expectations are not met. In other words the Member of Parliament will be responsible first and foremost to the constituents who elected him/her and not to the political party or the party whip.
There is a reasonable possibility that any candidate who is unwilling to sign a constituency contract and commit to Parliamentary reform is not likely to be elected. The role of a Member of Parliament is to represent the people of his/her constituency and not the political party to which he/she belongs or was nominated by even though the party may have paid for his/her election campaign.
These constituency contracts are not designed to eliminate political parties but, to limit their influence in Parliament and their control over the proceedings of both the Upper and Lower Houses. It will mean that MPs will have to engage in meaningful deliberations with their constituents and make an effort to gauge the preferences of the constituents before and after debate in the House or casting their vote on each bill that comes before the House. Political parties will still continue to be a main identifier of a candidates politics and will still be needed to aggregate information, pro and con, on any subject or matter before Parliament.
There will be the responsibility of maintaining and manning a Constituency Office in each riding perhaps apart from the political party offices. These offices could be financed by the MP allowances or Elections Canada, especially once the idea of Election Contracts becomes established and Parliamentary reforms for good governance are in place. Both Members of Parliament and Elections Canada have need of offices in each constituency regardless.
There is no doubt that communicating with the constituents will bring more overall work to each MP and will perhaps slow down the passage of bills in the House but that may be a good thing. Cramming legislation through Parliament will become a practice of the past as will omnibus bills.
There should be a practice of keeping the electorate apprised of the goings on in Parliament on a weekly basis apart from what the national news broadcasters deliver. In this day of electronics with email and website forums at almost everyone’s immediate demand, the ability to keep the public informed is basically easy. In those remote regions of Canada where the internet is not as readily available then the old fashioned method of letter correspondence will have to do. The main colaboration will take place between the riding association committee and the MP and it will be the riding association committee’s job to keep the residents in the riding informed as to matters in the House and to keep the MP informed as to the general concensus of the riding, to become the liason between the MP and his/her constituents.
The full intention of the Election Contract is to allow the electorate more say in the affairs of Government. Whether or not a person chooses to partake in offering their opinion is entirely up to the individual. The opportunity is given.