Our troubled House

The New Democrats have called a news conference for 10:30am this morning to outline their “plan for ensuring a full study of the Conservative’s omnibus budget bill.” Thomas Mulcair mused this weekend of both “parliamentary” and “legal” options, while environmental groups are planning a national ad campaign.

Meanwhile, the committee system is already strained.

Franks says he’s long been worried about the excessive number of Commons committees. The whole point of the committee system is to allow a small group of MPs to develop expertise in certain areas and, hence, to provide meaningful, quasi-independent input on legislation and important issues of the day. That can’t happen if MPs don’t have time to learn the files.

… That said, Franks believes excessive partisanship is the bigger problem underlying the ineffectiveness of Canada’s committee system. And he doesn’t blame the Harper Conservatives for that, at least not exclusively … The root of the trouble, as Franks sees it, is the inordinate control party leaders in Canada exercise over their MPs, from their ability to dictate who may run in an election to their power to punish those who break ranks.

Mark Jarvis and Lori Turnbull consider how Parliament might be fixed.

See previously: Saving the House of Commons

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