The Independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North

Bruce Hyer expands on his reasons for leaving the NDP caucus.

In the 1960s, the ballots were changed to include the party name alongside the candidate’s. The bureaucrats were concerned that some interloper might claim to represent a party, so they changed the rules so that the national party leader had to sign and approve the nomination of all candidates running for their party. It could have been just as easy (and in my mind better) to have the riding president do that, but in one fell swoop the national leaders had a sword of Damocles to hold over every MP. And they use it. Pierre Trudeau described his own backbenchers as mere “trained seals.”

Now leaders rule with iron fists. We are told daily what to say, when to say it, and how to vote. Mr. Mulcair has now made it clear he will bring back the long gun registry, and will use the whip. This flies in the face of both current NDP policy and my commitment to constituents. Another example is how parties are hopelessly locked to polar positions on climate change, making compromise to achieve even piecemeal progress impossible. And parties rarely, if ever, co-operate, with Mr. Mulcair already indicating he is unwilling to co-operate with other parties.

Mr. Hyer mentions a few ideas for reform, including his proposal for random seating in the House. In addition to removing the power to approve candidates from party leaders, he advocates giving a party’s caucus more say over the leader.




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The Independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North

  1. Strongly agree with Hyer’s comment about party leader vs riding association candidate approval.  This actually strikes me as one of those “stealth reforms” people might be able to get MPs to go for — making them more accountable to the riding than the leader.

    Of course, there’s probably some issues with how parties establish riding associations giving power right back to the party executive, but that one level of remove might be enough to start the ball rolling.

  2. He’s not wrong, I think everyone wants to see more independent, free-thinking MPs. However, people vote largely for a party, its platform, and the promises made by the leader. If there isn’t any party discipline, then there’s no guarantee that any of those promises will come to fruition.

    The electorate desires free-thinking politicians, but they also want certainty and concrete policy laid out during an election. There is a bit of a dichotomy there.

    One need only look at the Alberta election, where a bunch of free-thinking Wild Rose candidates undermined the leader’s message and harmed the parties chances province-wide.

    It’s a tricky balance for any party. You need to show a unified front, but also give MPs some freedom to represent their constituents.

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