Rathgeber on the House: 'We must restore the role of its members' - Macleans.ca

Rathgeber on the House: ‘We must restore the role of its members’

A Conservative MP considers his purpose


The Conservative MP considers the meaning of everything that happened last week.

I have been quite vocal for the last year suggesting that a Member of Parliament’s role, in fact Parliament’s role, is to hold the Government to account. Parliament has existed for over 800 years to hold the Crown to account for how it spent the nation’s taxes.

Now within caucus, there are obviously differing understandings of this role both in concept and in application. There are those who believe members, owing their election to the Party and the Party Leader, are essentially an extension of the Prime Minister’s Office’s Communications Branch. Their purpose: to read prepared lines in the House and then return to the ridings on break weeks to continue the selling of the Government’s messaging. Any straying from approved communication lines is viewed as going rogue.

I take a more nuanced view of my role as a backbench caucus member. As a member of the government caucus, I am loyal to the party and to the leader under whose banner I was elected. Accordingly, I feel obliged to support the Government’s legislative agenda and I believe my voting record reflects consistency in that regard. However, supporting the Government is not in my view tantamount to blindly and without thinking supporting every detail the Government says or does.