Policy alert - Macleans.ca

Policy alert


Jack Layton promises a fine for any MP who misses more than half the votes in the House of Commons in a year without providing a reasonable excuse.

The Globe tries to sort out whether this would amount to anything.


Policy alert

  1. This is irresponsible because it promotes the idea that people who hold public office are lazy and don't work for their money – which is almost universally untrue.

    Most MPs, in all parties, are extremely hard working and when they are not in the house itself their schedules are packed full dealing with constituent issues, meeting with groups, participating in caucus and committee meetings, and making public appearances. Almost all MPs – regardless of how you feel about their politics – genuinely believe they can help people and make the country better and put in a shocking amount of work to do so.

    Sanding and having their name called out by the Clerk in regards to votes – the outcome of which is generally known well before the votes are actually counted – is the least of an MPs job. When certain votes do become close, or important, MPs are almost always present. That's why the parties have whips.

    • "Almost all MPs – regardless of how you feel about their politics – genuinely believe they can help people and make the country better and put in a shocking amount of work to do so. "

      Couldn't agree with this more. You couldn't pay me enough to do what they do. It's a tireless job, and usually you just get s**t on while doing it.

    • I think you're right, except for those rare candidates who live in 80%+ landslide ridings. In which case you could probably spend the entire parliamentary session at home with a beer watching the golf channel in your underwear.

      • Maybe some, but even among those in secure ridings most are hard working and dedicated.

        Some of them earn those 80% votes. All of them have a job where people feel entitled to walk up to them in the street and tell them exactly what they think of them, without mincing words. It is a tough job and standing up in the commons is probably the most relaxing part of it – which is probably why many in the minority of MPs who avoid the hard aspects of their jobs spend so much time there.

  2. Well since Jack holds the power to refuse to sign nomination papers…..and he refuses to whip his caucus anyway…..this is kinda bizarre.

    Plus he let a candidate go on vacation during this election…..!

    • I don't think its really Jack who decides whether or not a candidate can go on vacation during the election. Ultimately, the voters will let that candidate know if its OK or not. In that particular riding, I'm not sure they are going to notice the difference.

  3. As well, something Jack wouldn't know anything about:

    "by tradition, the Opposition Leader and the Prime Minister generally avoid voting on the many private-member's bills and “that tends to skew the voting numbers.”

    Plus, as Leaderof the Opposition I would imagine part of the job would would also be to travel across the country meeting and listening to people.

    Jack is just a giant demagogue. That resemblance to Lenin is beginning to make sense now.

    • Your ignorance of party procedures in Parliament and Legislatures fully explains your readiness to justify your position by spewing trite labels and immature characterizations. Please return to your regular readings of Sarah Palin's memoirs (total of 3 pages).

  4. I really haven't been impressed with the latest NDP attack ads on Ignatieff, and let the lady who called me last night looking for money know it…you won't be getting another $50 outta muggins here…no siree :)

    The attendance issue is so obviously one that can be manipulated to look worse than it really is, it's cheap politics. But the Ignatieff flip-flop on corporate taxes ad *really* rankles. They're not attacking him for his position, after all it's a position that they NDP agrees with, but rather that he changed his mind and now agrees with them. I mean it's not like circumstances have changed since the Liberals agreed to the corporate tax cuts two years ago or anything. Heaven forbid a politician amends their position on an issue when circumstances change!

    The "flip flop" attack is easily one of the most annoying and dishonest attacks in politics. It reeks of Republican-style politics and actually angers me.

    I've generally been very supportive of Layton during his tenure as Leader of the NDP…but that ad is giving me pause.

  5. While the NDP's good government "Fix Ottawa" section of its platform sets out a few key measures such as voting system reform, restricting the PM's power to prorogue Parliament and to appoint party hacks to the Senate (and abolishing the Senate in the long term), and establishing a fair and transparent process for funding citizen groups, the platform does not contain the measure to fine MPs for not attending the House.

    As a result, no one should believe that the NDP will actually push for this measure — if the party was serious it would have put the promise in writing in its platform.

    As well, this rather minor change will do nothing to fix the federal government's actual serious problems, which are that dishonesty, secret, unethical lobbying, secret donations, excessive secrecy, unethical decisions, patronage and crony appointments, wasteful spending, unfair snap elections, are all effectively legal, in part because of loopholes in laws, and in part because of lapdog good government commissioner who either don't do their jobs properly, or don't have the powers to do their jobs effectively, and in part because MPs are controlled by their party leaders' power to cancel their nomination as a candidate in the next election and to appoint or remove them on House committees.

    If any of the parties promised a strong honesty-in-politics law, and to close all these loopholes and correct these flaws, along with giving voters the right to vote none-of-the-above, then they would be really worth supporting.

    Not that the Liberal and Conservative party platforms are any better, but Canadians deserves better from all of them, especially from the party with the word "democratic" in its name.

    Hope this helps,
    Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch http://www.dwatch.ca
    Organizer of the http://CoffeeParty.ca movement