Former Liberal MP Michelle Simpson says she’s writing a book about backbenchers in Ottawa. She says that they have little power, are pressured by their parties to toe the line, and they have given up their oversight role. Simpson also says that by making her expenses transparent online, she alienated herself from many MPs of all parties.
I do think that Simpson has a few good points – especially about the diminished roles that MPs are playing – but I will draw a few notes of caution. For one, it seems that every MP feels they’re a “maverick” who is on the outside of their party – at least, according to the Samara study of outgoing MPs a couple of years ago. Simpson's feeling that way seems to be a common symptom. All that MPs need to do to get their power back is to reclaim it. The best way to do that is by having civic and political literacy. MPs have plenty of power, which they have surrendered to the party apparatus for any number of good or bad reasons. It’s up to them to reclaim it, as no one is going to do it for them. And if all MPs really fancy themselves mavericks and outsiders, then maybe it isn’t going to be that difficult to do – unless they’re really not mavericks or outsiders. We’ll take them for their word on this one.
The Conservative convention came and went. The one member/one vote proposal was voted down, thus safeguarding the old Progressive Conservative wing of the party… for now. They also voted to tone down their stance on same-sex marriage ever so slightly, which would leave only the backbenches to repeal it rather than the government itself. It’s a start – right?
The government consulted the public about the ongoing perimeter agreement negotiations, and guess what it found? The consultation revealed that people are concerned about the secrecy of the process and are demanding transparency. But will they get it? Why do I feel like the answer is a no?
Canada is returning a bunch of stolen Bulgarian artifacts that were illegally taken and shipped to Montreal before being intercepted by the Canada Border Services Agency. Apparently, they do more than just ensure that gay porn doesn’t cross the border.
And too much red tape and not enough cash could be stalling the program to demilitarize former Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan.