What if the Reform Act is a bad idea?

Let’s not get too excited just yet

by Aaron Wherry

Shortly before Question Period, NDP MP Craig Scott, the party’s democratic reform critic, appeared in the foyer to tell reporters that he would be supporting Michael Chong’s Reform Act at second reading and recommending that his colleagues do likewise—voting for the bill in principle and sending it to a House committee for study.

After QP, Thomas Mulcair similarly said that he would support the bill in principle, noting that measures such as the threshold for launching a leadership review—set at 15% of caucus in Mr. Chong’s bill—and local authority over party nominations could be studied at committee.

Conservative MP Peter Goldring spoke to reporters and expressed concern around the language and threshold of the leadership-review mechanism. And Michelle Rempel tweeted her questions as she reviewed the bill this evening.

Meanwhile, the Star’s Tim Harper wisely advises everyone to take a deep breath.

These are matters that require debate. Right now we have a bandwagon, but one of our great democratic deficits is lively debate. Chong would be the first to say let’s slow down and hash this out.

I think Tim is both right and smart. Even if the basic aims and ideals of the Reform Act are good—and even if you might believe there is a desperate need for change along those general lines—it might not be the right solution, it might need to be amended, or even outright scrapped.

In that regard, all those interested in its contents and impacts might now be engaged with the parliamentary process as this bill is properly considered, poked, prodded and tested. We have known about the possibility of this bill for less than a week and it has existed for less than a day. Even those of us who have been hankering for this discussion and like to imagine what could be, need be patient and deliberate and careful.




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What if the Reform Act is a bad idea?

  1. There is no contradiction between being careful and passionate.

  2. For me, it is a relief after months and years of hearing every party promise to redress the democratic deficit that someone has finally put something on the table. Both the glib riders on the change bandwagon, and the sober second thinkers will now have to actually roll up their sleeves, tackle the issues and take a reasoned position. This is what Parliament is supposed to be about!

    • “Both the glib riders on the change bandwagon, and the sober second thinkers will now have to actually roll up their sleeves, tackle the issues and take a reasoned position.”

      You’re new here, aren’t you?

  3. Those mortified of seeing a loss of absolute authority over MPs and local ridings are those cautioning against Chong’s bill. Same as it ever was. For local constituents, the question is a simple one: should the local MP be their ombudsman in Ottawa, or should he/she be a bit player in the camp of a centralized party power structure? The incumbent party hacks in Ottawa fear that voters will tend to the former. A happy medium would be the best, and Chong’s bill paves the way for such a new synthesis.

  4. Whatever the potential benefits or problems it all certainly
    serves as a useful distraction.

  5. all those interested in its contents and impacts might now be engaged with the parliamentary process as this bill is properly considered, poked, prodded and tested

    Not to be overly cynical, but are we all confident, in 2013, that our parliamentary process in Canada still involves bills being “properly considered, poked, prodded and tested”?

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