Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Attention Members of Parliament: We Put You Into Those Seats, We Can Take You Out of Them

But Canadians shouldn't have to wait for an election to dump the incumbent

Canadians already getting fed up with the refusal of MPs to open their expense accoutns to the scrutiny of the Auditor General now have something else to fume about.

Not only does the Auditor General not have access to MPs' expense accounts, but records regarding their in-House attendance is apparently secret as well.

Canadian Taxpayers' Federation chief Kevin Gaudet puts it particularly succinctly.

“I don’t see why any of this stuff is secret,” Gaudet mused. “What is it they are hiding here?”

Canadians have the right to know.

Canadians elect Parliamentarians in expectation that they aren't merely electing that individual into a position or an office -- but that they are also, in effect, hiring them for a job. Their constituents have the right to expect that they will do that job.

For some of Canada's MPs -- the Prime Minister, cabinet, and leaders of opposition parties -- periodic absence from the House of Commons is not only acceptable, but to be expected. Often, MPs will be delegated to go abroad as part of a diplomatic or trade mission.

But for others, missing an exceptional number of sitting days should be considered grounds to recall that MP.

Unfortunately, Canada has no law enabling constituents to recall their MPs. Which is rather unfortunate.

Such a recall law would make a handy club to demand that MPs vote in accordance with the interests of their constituents. For example, constituents could demand that an MP vote in favour of a bill allowing for annual audits of MP expense accounts by the Auditor General.

If they decline to do so, or fail to show up in-House on the day of such a vote, an electoral recall could be used to replace that MP with someone prepared to act in the interests of their constituents -- and in the democratic interest.

That includes recalling MPs if Canadians consider a proroguement of Parliament to be excessive -- as many Canadians considered the 2010 proroguement to be.

It seems that many of Canada's Members of Parliament very much have forgotten that Canada's Parliament does not belong to them alone. While Canada's Parliament once effectively belonged to the monarch, it now belongs to the people.

It does not belong, and has never belonged, to the MPs themselves.

It's time to demand an electoral recall law so Canadians will have the tools to remind them of that little detail.


  1. I personally believe this is the culture of entitlement and become worse the longer you work in Ottawa.

    The problem is beyond the expenses. The money to run parliament (the speaker),the Senate should not be hidden behind the Board of Internal Economy.

    If we can shame them for expensing a pack of gum, so be it. If you make 100k+ you should think twice before expensing a pack of gum!

    I am a fan of term limits for MPs and Senators.
    I would prefer the ending of the Gold Plated Penions for MPs, Civil Servants.

    All monies in ridings, associations, parties be accounted for including volunteer time. Are large Public Unions donating staff (hundreds of hours)during a campaign, how is it being recorded.

    Same with tax funded institutions/NGO's that are providing space/resources for political activity.

    If you look at the Universities/United Church how do they book their space rentals use of equipment? Are they at market rates, discounted or free?

  2. A nice idea but can you really expect that any of the parties will give this any serious consideration when most Canadians are unwilling to do much more than join a Facebook group complaining about something the government has or has not done?

    The MPs, the parties, and the government side of the House, all know they can get away with this, and much much more; and unless Canadians happen to grow a collective pair nothing will change and "transparency and accountability" will remain a phrase that gets trotted out during election campaigns, and flung across the House during Question Period - and nothing more.

  3. Sadly, it's clearly an all-party problem.

    But you know, I do remember there was this one party leader who talked about electoral recall... a guy who tended to do everything he promised to do...

    I wonder what ever happened to him? ;)


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