Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MPs of all stripes supporting bill

OTTAWA—A collection of parliamentarians of all stripes are backing Conservative MP Michael Chong’s provocative new bill—one designed to rebalance the power between MPs and domineering party leaders.
As Chong held a news conference today about the legislation he had just tabled, colleagues from the House of Commons and the Senate took their seats nearby in a public show of support.

They included Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal, Tory MPs James Rajotte, Stella Ambler, and Larry Miller, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Independent MP Bruce Hyer.
Up to two dozen Conservatives could be poised to back Chong’s so-called “Reform Act of 2013,” at a time when Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office already is facing scrutiny for heavy-handedness.
“It depends on whether Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair will allow their caucuses to vote for democracy,” May said of the bill’s prospects.
“If they do, then the pressure on Conservatives will be that much more and I think the bill would then pass,” she noted.
“But no Conservative is going to risk the ire of their leader if they think the Liberals and the New Democrats aren’t on board.”
Chong’s bill has three components—the most controversial of which would give party caucuses in the Commons the right to vote to review the party leader and to trigger a leadership race.
Attached to that change is one that would entrench in the Parliament of Canada Act the rights of party caucuses—also known as parliamentary parties—to review, eject, and re-admit MPs.
They also would have the right to elect and eject their caucus chair.
The Ontario MP argues these rights always have existed by convention, but has not been exercised over the decades.
The British Conservative Party holds this power, as does the Labour Party in Australia, and Chong said it’s about reinvigorating the concept of responsible government in Canada.

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