Thursday, 5 February 2009

Bears Repeating

First Raphael:

I believe that one of Mr.Harper’s least appealing features is his absolute iron rule and tendencies to coming off as a “control freak”. To say that Michael Ignatieff is unlike Mr.Harper in this regard may not be an absolute negative. But further to the point, what is the essential problem with allowing individual MPs to vote according to the priorities of their constituency? Newfoundland and Labrador MPs voted against the budget because they don’t believe it is good for their province, and they have every democratic right to do so. They believe it will “rob” them of $1.6 billion in federal funding, and their obligation to voters should supersede their obligation to always follow orders from the leadership of the party.

And of course Mader:

As long as a party leader controls nominations--whether through a party executive or directly--backbench MPs will always act as if whipped. An MP who might be perfectly willing to speak his mind--and the minds of his constituents--at the price of a cabinet appointment will clam up fast when the consequence is to be stripped of a nomination, and therefore (at best!) elected as an independent at the next election. But it's not as simple as amending a party constitution to remove this nomination-interfering power; the problem is a consequence of the leader-centric nature of political parties. The solution? Rather than making MPs beholden to their leader, why not make the leader beholden to MPs? Scrap direct elections, scrap conventions, and do what the Grits have just done to great success: allow MPs to select the leader. All of a sudden the power equation is flipped. MPs no longer rely on the leader for their jobs; now the leader must treat his MPs like MPs again.

I particularly like the idea of making the leader beholden to their MPs. It gives us voters a little more influence. We can start letting our MPs know we like or don't like their choice of leader. Worth considering.

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