A small step toward committee reform (maybe)

The House votes to pursue the election of committee chairs

By a count of 275-0 last night the House of Commons passed a motion from Conservative MP Brad Trost that instructs the Procedure and House Affairs committee to consider the election of committee chairs via a preferential ballot vote of the House.

In asking for the House’s support, Mr. Trost appealed to the British example of the Wright committee‘s reforms. Those reforms to the select committee system went one step further—electing not just committee chairs, but also, via party caucuses, the membership of select committees. Three years later, the sense was that the changes had helped create more confident and credible committees. (Here is a study which suggests media coverage of British committees has markedly increased since the reforms.)

During debate in the House, Liberal MP Scott Brison suggested the parliamentary secretaries be prevented from sitting on committees. That was among the recommendations of the McGrath committee (which also suggested that committee members be responsible for finding their own alternates).

All of which have the conceivable impact of providing committees and committee members a certain amount of independence from the whips and the executive.

See previously: A small step toward e-petitions (maybe)

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