The Independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North - Macleans.ca

The Independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North

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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.