Power back into the hands of the riding associations

Andrew Coyne: Reform Act bill would change Canada’s parliament forever

Having read through Michael Chong’s bill, as presented by Andrew Coyne, the bill is an interesting, democratic, and populist reform bill. The bill seeks to hold party leaders accountable to their riding associations and to prevent the parachuting in of star-candidates with no connections to the local community. The bill looks good on its own but it’s terribly complicated in relation to the overall structure of the Canadian federal government.

  1. To reform federal party structures via federal legislation, one must recognize the existence of federal political parties in the Constitution. Since they are not mentioned in the Constitution, this bill would at the very most I would type, necessitate massive consultations.
  2. The bill would change the very way the Westminster system functions and exists, and as well as everybody knows, entrenched traditions and the status quo will always win the day in a vote.
  3. The Westminster system, though arguably undemocratic, allows a strong party leader to ignore riding associations that impugn or embarrass the party or Parliament with undesirable candidates. How many times has a riding association in Canada chosen a racist or a crack pot? More times than I knew possible in Canada. A strong party leader in this case could either intervene to replace that local candidate or minimize their disruptiveness.