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When the answer was more democracy

Excerpts from a 1988 pamphlet advertising Reform principles and policies.

Reformers believe that many of our most serious problems as a country can be traced to the apathy and non-involvement of Canadians in public affairs, and to decisions that too frequently ignore the popular will. Governments today assume far too large a role in our lives for us to allow decisions to be made solely by bureaucrats, pressure groups, and political professionals. The vast majority of citizens and taxpayers have a right to be involved. The system must provide the opportunity and the responsibility for us to do so.

We believe that public policy in democratic societies should reflect the will of the majority of the citizens as determined by free and fair elections, referenda, and the decisions of legally constituted and representative Parliaments and Assemblies elected by the people. We believe in the common sense of the common people, their right to be consulted on public policy matters before major decisions are made, their right to choose their own leaders and to govern themselves through truly representative and responsive institutions, and their right to directly initiate legislation for which substantial public support is demonstrated. We believe in accountability of elected representatives to the people who elect them, and that the duty of elected members to their constituents should supercede their obligations to their political parties…

The Reform Party believes that the excesses of party discipline can be corrected by fairly simple changes in Parliamentary rules, as have been done elsewhere. Specifically, we maintain that the defeat of a government measure in the House of Commons should not automatically mean the defeat of the government…

The Canada Elections Act must be amended to eliminate clauses which place Members of Parliament in a position beholden to their national Party Executive or Leader rather than their constituents … In addition, we urge that MP’s oath of office be amended such that they swear or affirm fundamental allegiance to their constituents as well as the Queen. We will investigate the possibility of allowing constituents to pursue some type of recall procedure against an MP they feel has violated that oath…

Reformers believe that the right to pick an MP once every four years from one of three more or less identical options has become fundamentally inadequate to protect the interest of citizens and taxpayers. The people must have a direct voice. The Reform Party will encourage the use of referenda and citizens’ initiatives…

Voters should also be able to initiate plebiscites…

We believe that this is most applicable to public policy that involves the most deeply held values of Canadians. Issues like capital punishment and abortion require a directly democratic process without partisanship or suppression. We would also recommend consulting the people on matters that alter the basic social fabric such as immigration, language, and measurement.