2 min

Things unsaid to newbie MPs

Yesterday, it was time for “rookie school” on the Hill for new MPs. While they got the lay of the land, I’m quite certain that there are things they weren’t told. While the Commons clerk, Audrey O’Brien, wanted to give them a sense of reality to temper their idealism (and here's a really good radio interview with her), it doesn’t appear that these newbie MPs were actually told what their job description is. Remember that Samara study from last year? Based on interviews with outgoing MPs, it found that most of them didn’t know their job description, and the percentage that did know that an MP’s actual job, first and foremost, is to hold the government to account, was a mere one or two. They aren’t lawmakers in the same way the Americans are, whom they may model themselves after. (While MPs can put forward private member’s business, it's not intended to be doing the legislative work of the country – even in a minority Parliament.) These important things, which are so vital to MPs' understanding of their place in the grand scheme of Parliament, continue to remain unsaid, and it’s something we really need to focus on changing.

Speaking of newbie MPs, the “mystery” candidate from Lethbridge, Alberta, appeared yesterday and spoke to the media. Not that he said much.

Bob Rae has put his name forward for the interim leadership of the Liberal Party, which will take him out of the run for the permanent leader. He’s also interested in ensuring that the position lasts a year or two, rather than just the short term of a leadership campaign, to allow for proper rebuilding of the party. (Here’s his letter to caucus about his intentions.)

As the Conservatives' national convention approaches, there is discord in the grassroots over a proposal to move to a full one member/one vote system from the weighted system currently in place. The existing system, which protected Progressive Conservative members from being swamped by the larger Western membership, was a deal-breaker during the party's past merger. With this back on the table, it could signal the end of progressive conservatism in the party.

Kady O’Malley gives us the history of reappointed senators in Canada. (Hint: It’s happened before, although not for almost a century. In some cases, it was less a reward than it was somewhere obscure to stick people to be rid of them.)

Speaking of that, Josée Verner sounds as though she’s being petulant, saying that she won’t really be representing Quebec City because she’s not an MP and doesn’t have the resources – and she’s right. But that doesn’t mean that she still can’t bring forward the area's views to her caucus and party leader. Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says that these odious appointments do “considerable damage” to Harper. He doesn’t seem to realize that the concern about the Senate from some Albertans is really just a product of exaggeration from the media and a few partisan loudmouths. He also doesn't see that voters will have forgotten about the whole affair by next week.

Glen Pearson looks at his definition of centrism and how it can apply to the Liberal rebuilding process.

Today in WikiLeaks, we learn how John Baird impressed American diplomats when he was environment minister. By helping them be obstructionist on climate change files, no doubt.

And for something completely different, here’s a look at the Halifax Maritime Museum’s exhibit about gay life on the high seas.
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