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is determined by the leader, as are the questions themselves! In debates, there are limited numbers of speakers and whether or not an MP gets to speak at all is a matter of permission from his leader and being recognized by the Speaker; then he’s confined to the Bill being debated. When MPs are criticized for not speaking out, they invariably take refuge in the assertion that they really let the government have it behind closed doors in caucus. Bullshit, pure and simple! When the Prime Minister is in the Caucus room, I can assure you everybody behaves like good little boys and girls will when they want a favour. Every backbencher sees themselves as cabinet ministers or, at least, parliamentary secretaries and aren’t about to piss off the PM. Ever. Your MP is irrelevant Here’s how utterly irrelevant your MP is. In the kerfuffle over the Trudeau government’s decision to approve an LNG decision in Squamish, our Liberal MP in West Vancouver Sea-To-Sky-Howe Sound, Pamela GoldsmithJones, wasn’t even advised, much less consulted. Her choices were three – speak out against the government and be tossed out of caucus, resign, or keep her mouth shut and go along. She went along, is Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Minister and a sure thing for cabinet – if she keeps her skirts clean. And she will. The Canadian MP likes you to believe he’s integral to the system of government. He’s a nothing. Which is

why our system is no closer to democracy than North Korea is. A bit more polite perhaps, but sure as hell no democracy. Here is the one line bottom line: In a parliamentary democracy the voter transfers his rights to his member of parliament to exercise on his behalf – the trouble is, by running for his political party, the MP assigns your rights to the leader for his exclusive use! As the famous US Speaker of the House, Sam Raeburn said, “Under our system, to get along, you must go along.” Editor’s FOOTNOTE Re: Current Liberal policy re government whip In case anyone thinks that the current government has a much more enlightened policy toward free voting by MPs… 1) Former army commander Andrew Leslie appointed Liberal Party whip (Nov 21, 2015), LINK: 2) From Huffington Post article, Feb 17, 2016): “During the election campaign, Trudeau promised that his MPs would have a free vote on everything except matters related to the Liberal platform, traditional confidence measures such as the budget, and anything to do with "our shared values and the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms." LINK: SOME SOLUTIONS FROM RAFE MAIR, PT.2 NEXT…


PART 2 – Sequel to Responsible Government

Rafe: A wild idea to fix Canada’s broken democracy LINK:


Last week I talked about “responsible government” – this is the sequel to that piece. I’m horrified that we’re not taught that “responsible” has nothing to do with civilized behaviour but in fact means that government, i.e. the prime minister and cabinet, are responsible to the House of Commons, which can dismiss them on a vote of non-confidence. What’s even more horrifying is we’re not told that this simply doesn’t happen to governments with a majority because prime ministers have created ways to nullify parliament’s ultimate power and become virtual dictators. I stated “in a parliamentary democracy the voter transfers his rights to his member of parliament to exercise on his behalf – the trouble is, in Canada, by running for his

political party, the MP assigns your rights to the leader for his exclusive use!” Facing up to the truth Most of us are in denial and don’t want to believe it and find it far more comfortable and feel warm all over when prime ministers pretend that our MP is critically important to the running of the government. In order to begin the process of reform, we must disabuse ourselves of this nonsense. To learn just how bad it is in Canada, I urge you to read a book called Tragedy in the Commons by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan (Random House, 2014). Based on interviews with retired MPs, it tells how useless and powerless MPs have become, down to being ombudsmen for the bureaucracy, ensuring that pension cheques arrive on time and that sort of thing. Government MPs have absolutely nothing to say about how the country is governed. The committees upon …/ VOL. 30, NO. 1, AUTUMN 2016

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Dialogue Vol.30, No.1 digital edition  
Dialogue Vol.30, No.1 digital edition  

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