This has been a very busy week in Ottawa as the 2nd session of 41st Parliament is again underway. Some of the Bills before the House this week include Senate Bill S-3 “An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act” and Government Bill C-3 “Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act”. Also up for debate this week is Private Members Bill C-586“Reform Act of 2014” from my Conservative colleague MP Michael Chong. The Reform Act continues to be one of the bills that I have received a considerable amount of feedback on recently and as a result have been following the bill closely.
One aspect of the Reform Act that is of interest is how it proposes to change the current political structure of our electoral process. To highlight this I will provide a more current example: during the most recent nomination process to select the leader of the Liberal party it is reported that over 104,000 people participated in their democratic process that resulted in 80% voting for
one individual who was then declared Leader of the Liberal Party. What is interesting about the Reform Act is that it proposes a legal mechanism where a majority of MPs from a party caucus can vote to replace the democratically elected leader and replace that democratically elected leader with an appointed one. To use the example from the Liberal Party again this means that with 37
Liberal MPs in the House of Commons it would require only 19 Liberal MPs to replace the current leader. The Reform Act also proposes that a majority vote of caucus can determine the interim replacement leader. In other words, the same majority of party MPs who would agree to vote out a democratically elected leader selected by the grassroots of their party would be free to vote in their own preferred replacement as an interim leader.
Some view this as enhancing democracy and are strongly supportive; others have voiced concern at the thought of a leader elected by tens of thousands of citizens could be over turned by a few dozen MPs. From my own perspective, one concern that I have is the potential for back room deals in Ottawa being made that could potentially create internal division and alienate citizens who participated in a transparent leadership selection process only to see that taken away for reasons
that may never be publicly stated. The stated goal of the Reform Act is to increase the ability of individual MPs to overturn the leadership of a party as well as decisions involving party discipline efforts that can include suspensions from caucus and reinstatements. I would be remiss if I did not
also point out that there are examples of leaders at both the Provincial and Federal level who have been successfully removed by caucus under existing process without legislation as proposed in the Reform Act.
This is only a brief summary involving some of the measures proposed in the Reform Act, there are others that unfortunately cannot be covered in detail in a single column. While my comments might come across as opposing the Reform Act that is not the intent in this report. Based on the feedback I have received from citizens to date, the majority have stated support for the Reform Act; in conversation I have also discovered that many are unaware of some of the technical aspects the bill proposes. It should also be noted that further amendments have been proposed to the Reform Act at in the event the bill reaches Committee Stage review. I can confirm that I will be supporting the Reform Act at second reading debate, so that these proposals can be reviewed and vetted by committee and welcome further comments and questions on this or any Bill before the House. I can be reached at email@example.com or via phone at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.