At a time like this, when our Parliamentary government has been abused, we are made more aware of the disrepair the whole edifice is falling into. The most urgent problem we face is the loss of authority Parliament has suffered. Parliament's committees are ineffectual, and more importantly, Parliament can be cowed into following the Prime Minister's wishes through threats of confidence votes.
One of the roots of this loss of authority is the lack of deliberation that occurs in Parliament. Parliamentary debate in Canada is determined for the large majority of issues on the basis of party affiliation. This, along with the growing impotence of committees, is leaving MPs with a less significant role. Consequently, Parliament is on its way, gradually, of becoming a rubber stamp as there is no doubt as to how MPs will vote.
Party discipline is often essential for efficient government. You need only look to the US Congress to see the rampaging effects of loose party discipline. However, it is still possible to have a Westminster style for of government and still give MPs more leeway. One way this could be done is to require confidence votes to be on budgets and Opposition days. This would prevent the fearmongering by overzealous and domineering PMs who render every vote a confidence matter.
I have by no means examined this proposal thoroughly, or examined others in depth either. However, it is clear that their are problems endemic to our Parliament that should be reformed. And what better time to do this than when the case for reform is being most eloquently put by a PM's prorogation of Parliament?
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Friday, January 8, 2010
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- ▼ January (10)