Is Michael Chong ready to challenge the system?

New proposals with the potential for major reform


Huffington Post reports that Conservative MP Michael Chong is preparing to propose a bill that would alter the political and parliamentary structure—notably amending the Elections Act to remove the requirement of the party leader’s signature for an individual to run as the candidate for a political party. You can find notice of a bill from Mr. Chong on today’s order paper at No. 76: “An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (reforms).”

On amending the Elections Act, Elizabeth May tabled a proposal in May. Mr. Chong and I spoke about this particular change two years ago.

Change, if it is ever to transpire, would need to start with those questions about who and what an MP is supposed to be. Since 1970 it has been a requirement of the Elections Act that any candidate seeking to stand for a political party in an election must receive the signed endorsement of that party’s leader. Chong, whose proposals for question-period reform are being studied by a parliamentary committee, would start there. “The current situation is at the root of the imbalance between not just the executive branch and the legislature, but also the root of the imbalance between party leaders and their caucuses,” he says. “If you know that the leader may not sign your papers in the next election or may in fact kick you out of caucus, that’s going to colour your judgment about whether or not you’re going to support the party line on a particular vote.”

I’m told the bill will apparently include a few measures. First, an amendment to the Elections Act—see section 67(4)(c) of the Act—to require the endorsement of a nomination officer chosen by the riding association. Second, it would specify that House of Commons caucus chairs must be elected, provide for how they can be reviewed and replaced, and set out rules for how MPs can be expelled from and re-admitted to caucus. Third, it will require that, for a party to be registered as a political party, party by-laws must allow for a caucus review of the party leader.

The idea of party leaders being accountable to the party caucus is better understood (and more often practiced) in other Westminster parliaments.

The bill would come into force after the next general election.

It will be interesting to see how many backbenchers are willing to support these sorts of measures, but this should put the leaders of each party on the spot as well—not merely on whether they support such proposals, but, if they don’t, whether they agree there is a problem with the current balance of power between MPs and party leaders and, if so, how they would otherwise propose to solve it.

The existence of a group of Conservative backbenchers who were meeting to discuss their powers as parliamentarians began to emerge in the spring.


Is Michael Chong ready to challenge the system?

  1. With all the problems this country has…..Parliament is again focussing on itself. On procedure, not policy.

    Form a committee to study it….tell it to report back in a year….and move on.

    • One of the big problems in this country is the corruption in parliament and the senate.

      • There has always been corruption in govt…and not just ours. A few minor rule changes won’t make any difference. The Brit Tories tossed out Thatcher…..ended up with Labour for years.

        Canadians want jobs….they want an economy.

        • Waw, EmilyOne, I agree with you! Completely.

          And this government is delivering that in spades; economy up 2.7% in GDP this year, retro-actively calculated………………….

          I couldn’t be happier.

          • You couldn’t be sillier you mean….China is at 7.80.

          • Francien Verhoeven, from 21 hours ago:

            “NO one on this earth today can profess to know how the economy really works. Pure theoretical opinions are worthless if reality is not taking into account. The practical is real life and what interferes in real life is, to a great extent, unpredictable.
            We cope and move on. We all do. That’s economics.”
            So why does the government deserve credit for the economy’s performance when as you state, no one has any true clue how it works?

          • P.S. Gerstein approved the $32,000 payment, per page 17 of the ITO.

          • Francie seems to be deaf. Appreciate your effort though.

          • Nice one :)

        • The corruption is getting out of control.

          Everything has to start somewhere. You can’t expect to fix all the problems in a single stroke.

          • Nah….I’ve seen it many times.

            Start somewhere…yeah….like the economy, not rapping knuckles.

        • Well then the corruption needs to be dealt with, or TFWs are going to keep taking Canadians’ jobs.

          • Corruption has nothing to do with TFWs and jobs.

            There ARE no ‘Canadian jobs’…..there is globalization.

            Duffy’s expense account is neither here nor there.

          • It’s the corrupt politicians looking out for large companies at the expense of the majority of the country.

            All globalization is is lowering our standards to that of third world countries. When what we should being doing is raising their standards, if anything.

          • Corporations running the country and buying the politicians is left-wing crap.

            Globalization is producing trade agreements instead of wars….getting food to starving people…..advancing science….so leave the conspiracy plots….and the western arrogance….out of it.

          • Harper has been bought by oil companies. Corporate infiltration in our government is not a left, or right issue. Though with the NDP they’re more about being bought and paid for by unions.

          • Then how be we elect better people, not just more?

          • You have to route out the corrupt politicians and prevent them from continuing in politics, before that will be possible.

          • Well when you figure out how to elect only saints, let us know.

          • You can’t, that’s the problem. That’s why you need laws to be able to remove and punish corrupt politicians.

            You sure do like to exaggerate, 1000s, saints, what’s next?

          • We already HAVE such a procedure.

            It’s called an Election.

          • But not before they can do a lot of damage. It also isn’t a very good punishment. I’m talking a recall law and jail time.

          • When you are elected to office it’s a steep learning curve. There is a massive amount of information and work involved….and any extra committees or jobs bring even more. It takes about 2 years to learn the ropes, make the connections, build the networks, get yourself known, master the details………….and then some hothead back home gets you recalled over something s/he didn’t like.

            And a new guy has to start all over again from scratch.

            Noop….neither practical nor efficient.

      • I’m curious where Justin Trudeau buys his marijuana. Could he have ties to organized crime?

        • Not important until the pictures or videos surface. And a picture of Justin smoking pot will surface, in time.

          My question would be: what are the chances that someone will blackmaill Justin before those pictures surface publicly.

          • What difference would that make since he has already said he has smoked pot . . . not like Rob Ford who repeatedly denied taking crack then was forced to admit it.

            In any case it seems most Canadians don’t really care, but that said, there is a significant segment that does care, and those could be in a position to affect outcomes in some ridings (Paul Wells wrote about that last week I think in relation to CPC strategy of emphasizing JT’s smoking)

          • But the reporters weren’t asking the right question. Besides they drove him to drink and take drugs. So you see, it’s all the medias’ fault. ;)

          • *Facepalm* damn you Justin, of course!! should’ve known!

          • LOL :)

          • You have lead a sheltered life my dear.

        • Well his admission of smoking pot was that it was brought by someone else to a dinner party at his home, so apparently he did not buy it.

          • Justin hung out snowboarding in Whistler and lived in Vancouver. If he starts equivocating and hedging on this, I’m going to lose respect for him quickly. I’d have infinitely more respect for JT if he just came out and said “I’ve smoked it, I still smoke it, and I think it’s awesome!” He does that, he’s got my vote.

          • Ya, God knows the Canadian electorate wants a PM who’s stoned out of his tree on the job. It’s not like the job requires good judgement or anything like that.

          • I’d rather have Trudeau stoned at 24 Sussex than Mulcair sober, but that’s just my personal preference.

          • Sorry GritButt, no one stones politicians any more. Not even greasy ones like Justine (Son of Margaret)

          • So now I’m supposed to believe he’s smoked pot only the one time, and somebody else brought it? I’m not buying that for a second. I want to know who his drug dealer is. If it’s his buddy down the street, fine. But if he’s buying from some gang, that’s a big problem.

          • I actually agree with you Rick that it strains credulity that JT only smoked once when, as I mentioned, he lived in Vancouver and hung out at Whistler snowboarding for a while. Look what came out re Ross Rebagliati many years after that Olympics thing. “Just once” seems a stretch to me.

        • If that’s the only negative you can come up for Trudeau, you haven’t been pay very close attention.

          • I can come up with worse. Like he’s got the intelligence of a 14 year old. But what am I missing that you’d say I’m not paying attention?

          • How about his ties to China. Oh, wait Harper has the same ties.

          • What do you have against Chinese people?

          • Nothing. But their government is one of the most corrupt. You should see what thy’ve allowed to happen to their country. The smog can get so bad, it blankets whole cities, like thick fog and causes business to shut down. The government rounds up people for practicing various religions and throws them in slave labor camps.

          • You make comments like that but bristle when Harper is called a “dictator?”

          • “you haven’t been pay very close attention.” is ungrammatical.

          • My Gawd – the horror!!!

        • Produce a video and we’ll talk.

    • Well this is a means to an end: policy is currently dictated by an omnipotent PMO. These measures would seemed to be aimed at curbing those powers and this allow for greater input into policy by rank and file MP’s. As it currently stands they serve only to vote what the leader wants.

      • Yes, you have to have party discipline….and the leader must have some power over his candidates or it all falls apart.

        • The party system is part of the problem. MPs aren’t allowed to represent their constituents, but are forced to tow the party line.

          • We have 3 parties….and therefore 3 platforms to choose from when we go into an election. Just 3.

            And yet voter turnout is low and dropping. Has been for years.

            Eliminate parties….let anyone run…on their own platform. Thousands of people…good, bad, indifferent, crackpots…..watch the public stay home in droves.

            We can’t have everyone running the govt….Canada as the land of 35M PMs won’t work.

            Pick one of 3. How hard is that?

          • Because all three parties lie. They make big promises and then do the opposite.

            No one should be running the democracy. Things are supposed to be debated and voted on, not dictated by a single person.

          • And thousands of people running for office won’t??

            This is a representative democracy….you elect someone to represent you….and they debate and vote on matters in Parliament.

            Because all 35M of us can’t vote on everything.

          • Who says 1000s will run? It’s not like independents can’t already run. You’re just pulling stuff out of your @$$, trying to explain your crap.

            But the debate is being stopped and MPs are forced to vote, by the party leaders.

          • Thousands will run…..do you know what an MP gets paid?

            Hard for an Independent to run right now….campaigns cost big money and they are up against parties with a lot of it.

            Seeing as you decided to get nasty, I will tell you that I was in politics for many years and I know how it works.

            You do not.

          • If that was true, thousands would already be running.

            It would still cost as much to run, with, or without the parties. Without the parties, it would be even harder to run, because their would be no party funding.

            Sure you were. Now you’re just lying to make your point.

          • If you have to pay for the campaign out of your own pocket instead of from party coffers or contributors you likely won’t make it. Signs, newspaper ads, radio/tv ads, door to door in a riding, pamphlets, an office…..it all adds up.

            Regulars on here know I was in politics for a decade back in the 90s.

          • If their was no parties, the playing field would be more level. You’re only allowed to finance your campaign with so much of your money.

            Here’s a thought, on how to deal with your 10000s of candidates. Make them take a test on politics and the law, only the top highest scoring candidates can run. Make the tests public after correcting mistakes. The politicians will never again be able to claim they didn’t understand the rules.

          • Election law says anyone qualified to be a voter…and it only involves age….can be a candidate.

            That was the basis for democracy.

          • Anyone can take a test that is democratically be decided upon. Laws can be changed, that’s how a democracy works.

          • Well then set to work getting it changed.

          • Emily, forget it. The only work that little Tinky Wink has ever done is take Kevin’s undies over to a sequin sewer. He doesn’t even know WTF a Flontek really is.

          • So what’s up here Emily should we guess? OK!

            Well you’re big on Indians but you don’t know much. So let’s see, are you Dave Crombie? No I think not you’re smarter than Dave Crombie. Probably taller too.

            Judy La Marsh might have had a bit of Indian blood, but Judy La Marsh was sharp as a tack and would never in a thousand years let herself get cornered like you do. So you’re not Judy LaMarsh besides I think she’s dead.

            I don’t think you’re Sheila Tequila. Although you’re definitely as wackie as she is there’d be none of this Ciao business with Sheila, She’d be screaming, I’m frecking Sheila and we’re going to the wall buddy. So you’re not Sheila

            Ah Emily, I think I have it you’re Pauline WTF was her name, Woofers, Boofers; Pauline Boofers was that it from Scarborough. Minister of Indians for about a week and then chucked out with Skim Campbell. That would make sense. So look Emily I’m going with that, you’re Pauline Boofers washed out Minister of Indians with that goofy Kim Campbell. She parked that rusty old Volvo of hers on the street in Vancouver, went off to Ottawa and didn’t go back to move it until 10 years later.

            Pauline Boofer, or Broofer? — Brower. geez Pauline Brower.Let me know Emily

          • You’re not Svend Robinson are you Emily?

            or sigh, gawd help us, Colin Thatcher?


          • Not this again – wasn’t it at the riding association level in small town Ontario? I’m up to here with the anonymous experts pulling rank like this. You’re as bad as HCI.

        • Emily, the UK functions well with some MP independence. If you think MPs are irrelevant and exist only as ambassadors of the party, why don’t we just abolish Parliament and hold a referendum every five years to determine which party runs the country.

          • That’s because there are over 600 of them….and they don’t agree on much of anything.

            Like Pierre said….50ft off the hill, they’re nobodies.

    • Shorter Emily: Let’s just have a dictatorship and get stuff DONE!

      • Doesn’t take a dictatorship to get things done….it just needs people to get off their collective ass.

        • And do what?

          • Fix the economy, and create jobs.

          • How to do that is not immediately obvious. Maybe we should have a debate, share some ideas! Oh, wait, we can’t, this is Canada and our Parliament consists of well trained seals. Get . . . my . . . drift . . . ?

          • Well we’ve done it before….perhaps if Cons called their MPs to heel?

          • Oh, you mean 1988? Like, ah, 25 years ago?

            I am genuinely surprised to see you on the side of the Harper PMO, Emily.

          • 7 years of Harper has warped your memory. Parliament has debated many times over the years….it is only this govt refusing to do so.

          • Really! MP’s used to challenge their Leader’s views publicly? Like when, before the Reform BIll of 1832?

    • The current government will not allow a committee to study anything in a legitimate way. Those days are gone.

    • Couldn’t disagree more.
      If this passes, it would qualify as a revolution in how our Parliament works. It shifts power away from the executive back to the legislature. That is a massive change in Canadian politics, which has likely the most centralized all-powerful executive in the western world.

      Yes, it’s procedure, not policy. But get the system right, and good policy can follow.

      • And it means zik-all to the average Canadian.

        • So much the worse for them. Personally I prefer to live in a democracy.

  2. You know what works well for parliamentary reform? If members of the media would not treat this as a partisan issue.

    But my bet is (and not unfounded at that) that as soon as this new proposal for change comes to stand into the limelight, it will be the members of the media first and foremost who will start playing partisan politics with stuff like parliamentary reform.

    Yet, if only the media could stop being so partisan, then perhaps parliamentary reform would have a real chance.

    Until then.

    • How about showing us some concrete, objective examples of media partisanship? Reading this piece, I don’t see how the media are treating this as a partisan issue . . . unless citing actual facts is partisan in your worldview.

      • “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

        • Oh yeah, the old Reality=Liberal rule of thumb.

          I don’t think you needed to bother mentioning it. In your case it’s bluntly obvious from your Avatar how firmly grounded every one of you is.

    • Parliamentary reform rests in the hands of those who can whip the greatest vote. In a majority government I don’t think it’s the media that controls those votes.

  3. With the timing of this move, Michael Chong seems to indicate he’s aiming to be the next leader of CPC. He’s young, and he stepped back from harper early on — he resigned his position as cab minister because he disagreed with Harp’s stance on Quebec. He is one of the few recognizable Cons who has a really clean record for being a good guy. I believe he was one of the few, or maybe the onliest one, who agreed with Kyoto. He’s a moderate, fiscal con, not a socon. And he’s bided his time well. His youth would make him a better leader against Trudeau than Kenney would be — Kenney is trying to distance himself from harper decisions (and notice that no cabinet ministers are answering questions in the House — Calandra is a PS but not a cab minister (and QP is supposed to be to ask ministers of the crown questions, at least I think it is).

    • I loathe Harper and the CPC, but I would vote for Chong in a second.

      • Well, I wouldn’t see myself voting CPC but I wouldn’t be heartbroken with Chong around. And yes, I too loathe harper.

    • Beseechin’ Chong

      • Dave’s not here, man.

  4. Should MPs choose the leader? That gives backbenchers more power, but at the expense of rank-and-file members, who have little power other than voting for the leader.

    • I believe that’s how it was done initially. There was no leader until after a general election. Then the elected MPs of the winning party voted amongst themselves. Is that true?

      *** google search goes here ***

      Well I believed that but I can’t find any reference for it online. Was I just told this by somebody and it stuck in my brain? I hate when that happens.

    • Part of the reforms Chong is proposing is for riding associations to choose their MP, without the sign-off of the leader. Thus, the rank-and-file members have their power back at the riding level.. they pick the MPs who pick the leader.

  5. This comment was deleted.

    • Are you having a stroke? Should we call someone?

      • He’s just been spreading himself a little too thin lately.

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