Summer’s Over – Back to Work for MPs – This time with more Accountability

Welcome back! The summer recess is normally the refuge of the political status quo – but not this year! Just ask now-outgoing Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Or for that matter, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose governing Liberals managed to come third in a three-way race in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election  – even after appointing favourite daughter, Elizabeth Witmer, to a plum provincial post. And in BC, nearly as many government ministers are leaving as staying on to fight the next election – which is still months away! Premier Christy Clark is shuffling her cabinet but those deck chairs must be getting pretty wet by now.

And, here’s a bit of schadenfreude for all you Toronto-sceptics – the Mayor is in court for breaching conflict of interest rules for soliciting contributions to his private charity and then speaking against a council motion to pay them back. In court, he defends himself by saying he resolutely never informed himself about those rules because his father had been a provincial politician. No matter the outcome, this Mayor’s status quo will have changed.

All of which gives new meaning to the phrase – “A week is a long time in politics! – A year is an eternity!”- and gives new hope for people who want more accountability from their elected representatives –even between general elections!

The attitude that “If you don’t like it, you can vote me out in the next election!” is just not good enough. The latest CARP Poll results demonstrate a real impatience with the Status Quo – and while members are not about to storm Parliament – they respect it too much – they want serious reform – or at least full implementation of the proper checks and balances of Parliamentary process. And when those are lacking or being ignored, they expect the Opposition to take up the mandate to guarantee our democracy. A Parliamentary majority is not a blank cheque!

Members issue a challenge to government backbenchers too – they need to live down that moniker and better fulfill their role as elected representatives rather than simply act as spear-carriers for the government.

The battle of two clear visions to the south of us has got to have a spill-over effect in Canada – even among people who are not political junkies. Whatever you may think of American politics or the candidates, or even the political ads gone mad – you’d have to admit that every nuance of each candidate or party platform is scraped bare –at least on TV. It might well be different on the street corners where this is washing over people along with the hurricanes.

It must make us wonder if our public policies and the politicians who mouth them could stand up to such intense scrutiny. Well, they should. The pretty words at election time had better manifest themselves into government action and the interests of all Canadians must be considered – not just the people who voted them in.

Times have changed. No government can sit pretty and just keep motoring on through its own agenda – including contradicting its own platform e.g. senate reform – something our members highlight as a way to improve our democratic processes – by exacerbating its excesses in the meantime – the Prime Minister just appointed five more senators.

Really! Is this how it’s going to be?

The new Parliamentary session is scheduled to start on September 17th! We’ll be watching!