Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Open Letter to MP Claude Gravelle, Requesting Support for MP Michael Chong's "Reform Act"

I am reproducing here a copy of a recent letter to my Member of Parliament, Claude Gravelle, urging him to support MP Michael Chong's "Reform Act" when it comes before parliament for a vote.


December 1, 2013

Claude Gravelle, MP
2945 Highway 69 North, Suite 203
Val Caron ON P3N 1N3

Dear Mr. Gravelle,

As my Member of Parliament for the Nickel Belt electoral district, I am writing to you today to express my hope that you will vote in favour of a private member’s bill to be introduced to the House of Commons later this week by MP Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills).

The Bill, which has been given the short title of the “Reform Act”, seeks to transform the current unbalanced and increasingly dysfunctional relationship between elected members of parliament and the authoritarian practices of party leaders.

Specifically, the Reform Act will:

• End the anti-democratic practice of requiring party leaders to sign the nomination papers of local candidates voted to represent their parties by grassroots members;

• Make party leaders more accountable to their caucus peers by providing a new mechanism whereby elected MP’s can initiate immediate leadership reviews should they lose confidence in their party leader, rather than waiting until after a general election;

• Provide a mechanism for elected MP’s to determine the composition of their caucus, and to eject members whom may have had ethical lapses through a democratic process.

These proposed changes will lay a foundation for future reforms needed to restore the democratic health of our parliament. Although they are not comprehensive, they are certainly an excellent start, and could form the building blocks of further transformational changes. As such, I believe that there is no good reason for all elected Members of Parliament not to support Mr. Chong’s Bill.

Too often, our elected Members of Parliament find themselves mired in party politics at the expense of doing what is best for the nation, and representing the wishes of their constituents. When MP Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay-Superior North) voted to scrap the long-gun registry against the wishes (and the whip) of his party, he was disciplined by his party. For representing the views of his constituents, Hyer was told by his party that he could not speak in parliament again – not even to represent the views of those constituents. When told that he would continue to have to vote the party line despite the wishes of his constituents, Hyer left his party caucus to sit as an Independent.

The climate of fear which exists in parliament is real, and detrimental to the health of our democracy. Although this Bill is being brought forward by a member of the Conservative Party of Canada, it deserves the support of all members of the House, no matter their political affiliation. The Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, has already endorsed Mr. Chong’s Bill, and has urged MP’s of all parties to do the same.

National Post columnist Andrew Coyne says that the Reform Act would “restore the basic principles of the Westminster model on which we were founded, and under which we were governed for many years.” Canada’s democratic health would certainly be bolstered by the changes being proposed in Mr. Chong’s Bill.

With all of this in mind, I sincerely urge you to vote favorably for MP Michael Chong’s Reform Act.

Please note that I have taken the liberty of providing this letter to local media, for their consideration.
Yours truly,

Steve May

Officer of the Nickel Belt Greens (Green Party of Canada Electoral District Association – registration pending)

(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Party of Canada)

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