Talk to Your Representative

Your political representative is the basis of democracy, and therefore to have democratic change we must change the relationship that we have with our representative. There is no need to wait for a Constitutional change, nor does a bill, like the Reform Act need to be enacted to change our democracy. It is a relationship between yourself and your representative, one that you can begin to nurture. And if a thousand of your fellow constituents would also learn this, you could change the nature of your democracy in your riding; one of being ignored by your representative, to where a thousand votes could mean the difference of getting re-elected.

This is an example of a recent correspondence with my representative (a good representative that still has some improving to do). The issue was that I contacted my representative to influence her to vote in favour of the Reform Act that had a second reading in Parliament. The Reform Act will totally alter the democratic process in our Canadian Parliament.

I wrote to my representative Irene Mathyssen, telling her that I wanted her to vote in favour of the Reform Act, she respond, and then I emailed back to her my response to her statements.

Initial email from me to my representative Irene Mathyssen:

Dear Irene: I see that the Reform Act had second reading in the House. As one of your constituents, I encourage you to vote for the act to continue along the path to 3rd reading and approval. I feel it is a very good step forward to a better Democracy.

Kindest regards,

Rob McQueen

Irene’s response to me:

As you may have already heard, Tom Mulcair has already told our NDP team that this legislation will be a free vote for our MPs. In keeping with Jack Layton’s tradition, Tom continues to allow free votes on Private Members Business with the exception of those matters which deal with basic human rights issues and those Bills which are in direct contradiction to the official party policy we agreed to support when accepting the nomination to run for the NDP.

I want to be honest with you, I have not taken a position on Mr. Chong’s bill yet. In principle, I do support the Bill and I certainly support the goal of re-empowering individual MPs! I am looking forward to the debate around this issue because I feel parliament has avoided addressing the need for real democratic reform for far too long. In the NDP, we’re always interested in working on ways to improve democracy including: promoting electoral reform; taking partisanship out of the Senate on the road to abolition; making the Parliamentary budget officer (PBO) an independent officer of Parliament; preventing fraudulent robocalls; enhancing decorum in the House of Commons; limiting the use of in-camera meetings in committees; allowing online petitions; calling for independent oversight of MP expenses and subjecting Parliament to the Access to Information Act.

Amongst other things, Mr. Chong’s bill would add a new mechanism to trigger leadership reviews by giving MPs from party caucuses the ability to start the process when they are dissatisfied with their leader. What this does is codify elements of constitutional conventions based on the traditions of Parliament.  The election of a new leader would then be left to the political party and the membership.

As it stands, the NDP is the only party that conducts a leadership review every two years and we are the only party that would subject a sitting Prime Minister to a leadership review. Since the last election, both Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair faced leadership reviews. No other party has had a leadership race and two reviews in the last two and a half years. As for the other elements in the bill, the NDP already elects its caucus chair. We also already have open nomination contests.

Mr. Chong’s bill is consistent with the many NDP efforts to reform our broken parliamentary democracy, and it specifically addresses some of the means the leader of the governing Conservative Party uses to undermine the functioning of the House of Commons.

I remain open to supporting this Bill and will continue to listen to both the “pros and cons” of it during debate as well as the feedback I receive from constituents. I’ve always believed it is not about who you are voting with, or whose legislation it is, it is about what are voting for!

My response to her statement of how she decided on how to vote:

Thank you for reading my email and for the response. I appreciate your honesty about the issue and how you recognize your need to serve the public, however, I believe more weight should be placed you informing your constituents and then, do to the gravity of the massive change the Reform Act would make, that you let your constituents inform you how you should vote. Surely we have moved beyond the point where Parliamentarians make decisions for the uninformed and illiterate peasants.
If you inform your constituents then perhaps they would grow into a sense that they are recognized as being a part of the democratic process and perhaps more would become engaged. Heaven knows we need more public participation in the political process.

Kindest regards,

Rob McQueen

I see that we, as voters have to become more engaged in interacting with our representatives so they do not feel like they are acting without scrutiny or accountability. We must let our representatives know that we are engaged, watching and that we have expectations of them if they wish to every be elected again. Getting elected again is their Achilles heel.



About pushinback

Back in 1993, I attended an anti-Nafta rally in Ottawa along with over 110,000 others. But despite the overwhelming opposition to NAFTA, the steamroller rolled on. It was there that I came to understand the one vital thing that I have been preaching ever since. There are so many issues, and so many fighting each issue, we are all spinning our wheels, and wasting our time, talents and energy, because each election, we give the politicians our power and so the deck is stacked against us. I said it that day and I say it with more fervency today. We all have one issue that we share, and we should all stop fighting for our own issues and losing anyways, and we should fight to achieve that one thing that we all share. We Canadians all have to fight to finally get a say between elections. We need to fight to make politicians accountable to us, the people. If there is no accountability, and the people have no say between elections, we have no Democracy. My Blog is written to teach the reader the essential knowledge of freedom and Democracy. Please read, and learn. I am one person, but I leave you my witness that one person is not powerless, only first you must first learn and then act. Let the democratic revolution begin. Kindest regards, Rob McQueen
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One Response to Talk to Your Representative

  1. Pingback: Enter the New Dimension of Democracy | pushinback

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