Ottawa

When do we want it?

In the midst of lamenting for it all, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett notes a 2002 report that surveyed parliamentarians about their concerns for the state of the institution.

When asked whether Parliament is in need of reform, the short and universal answer from the Parliamentarians with whom we spoke is: yes. In their view, the institution has, in a sense, lost its way.

Parliamentarians feel that the House of Commons and the Senate are no longer places in which meaningful debate occurs. The impetus to get the government’s business through and the strongly enforced party discipline have combined to limit the number of voices heard in Parliament … Parliamentarians feel they have not the information, the support or the expertise to hold the government to account effectively … By and large, Parliamentarians do not feel their work as legislators has a significant impact on public policy decisions in Canada. By the time issues and ideas are brought to either chamber, positions have by and large been set, partisan lines drawn, and the outcomes determined. What is more, Parliamentarians feel they have little, if anything, to show for those occasions when they have come together on issues, be it a committee recommendation or motion passed in the chamber. Put simply, decisions are made elsewhere.