I am very pleased by today’s (March 21, 2014) announcement: Marc Nadon’s appointment rejected by the Supreme Court. “Today’s judgment will be of great importance, especially in constitutional matters,” said Sébastien Grammond, who represented two groups of retired Quebec judges in the case. “First and foremost because it makes important statements as to how the Constitution of Canada can be amended.”
This decision is a defeat for Harper’s agenda. I firmly believe his trying to sneak an amendment to the Supreme Court Act through in an omnibus budget bill was part of an ongoing program to consolidate power in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s hands. Our Westminster system is under attack.
Our Westminster system of government has evolved over centuries. In this system the Prime Minister is supposed to be responsible to Parliament. Many died to establish the supremacy of Parliament. I believe the supremacy of Parliament in Canada has been under attack for a few decades now and Harper has done the most damage, especially in reducing the PM’s responsibility to the House of Commons.
As MP Michael Chong says, “It is clear that decades of changes to Parliament have weakened the role of MPs and centralized that power in the party leaders. As a result, your democratic representation through your elected MP has been much weakened over the past several decades.” and “In Canada, unlike the US, citizens exercise only one vote at the national level: a vote for their local MP. Canadians rightfully expect that their local member be able to represent their views in Ottawa, and not the other way around.”
If we truly want to honour our Canadian parliamentary tradition, I believe we ought to support Michael Chong’s bill. In Chong’s words: “The Reform Act proposes three simple reforms to improve Parliament by restoring local control over party nominations, strengthening caucuses as decision making bodies and reinforcing the accountability of party leaders to their caucuses in the House of Commons. These reforms will better empower MPs to represent their constituents and allow them to stand on issues of importance to their constituencies. The Prime Minister and other party leaders would still be immensely powerful under the proposals in the Reform Act. It’s just that they wouldn’t be all powerful.”
“The ideas in this bill are not new ideas, but very old ones. They are the ideas that Canada’s democratic institutions were founded upon in the 1840s, after the Rebellions of 1837. If enacted, the Reform Act would restore Parliament to the way it worked in Canada for many decades. It would strengthen Baldwin and LaFontaine’s principle of responsible government, making the government more accountable to the people’s elected representatives. Furthermore, many of the reforms proposed in the Reform Act are similar to current practices in other Westminster parliaments in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.”
I really can’t understand why Canadians are not out in the streets agitating for this bill. I also can’t understand why some Canadians still support a party that would, if it succeeds in its program, dangerously undermine Canadian parliamentary democracy.