It’s about time.
It appears some MPs are sick of just being arrows in a quiver wielded by their leader. They actually want to, gasp, speak their own minds on issues they think are important: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/03/26/john-ivison-backbench-revolt-the-closest-thing-to-a-revolution-harpers-seen-yet/
The views being suppressed aren’t ones I necessarily agree with. Sex-selective abortion is wrong, I believe, but I’m not sure government’s efforts to curb it wouldn’t overstep the role I believe government should play in reproductive decisions. (For the record, I’m on the grey sliding scale between pro-choice and pro-life absolutists, but closer to the former camp than the latter.)
What I definitely applaud is the courage it takes to go against party discipline in Canada. It’s good that enough MPs have banded together to create some momentum. A lone MP is easily dismissed by government, but 20 can’t be ignored.
I’ll take this opportunity to give a shout-out to a book I haven’t read called Power Shift, by a Trent professor, Vaughan Lyon. This volume was sent to me by a publicist after I expressed interest in its topic. I then allowed it to languish on my desk for a year or more without cracking the cover. But the topic is still of interest. Apparently, though, he believes party politics is a 19th century model, and claims 83 per cent of Canadians want their MP to represent constituent views, not the views of their party. If the press release with the book is to be believed, Lyon’s work outlines a strategy to shift power from parties to informed citizens (none of my invitations to comment on a blog post and win a prize have been successful yet, but I’ll try again: post a comment to this blog entry and you’ll go into a draw to win this book. Given that I’ve never had more than two comments on a blog post, the odds are good you’ll win).
Here’s the bad news, and I’ll put this as politely as possible: Both of our local reps – provincial and federal, Skabar and Armstrong – strike me as careful men. Maybe they are sincere, true believers whose values and views dovetail perfectly with those of their party leadership. But let’s just say I don’t expect either of them to deviate far from safe party ground.
For a fun finish to this short post, check out this tongue-in-cheek chart: http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/03/26/voices-from-the-backbench-some-mp-opinions-that-their-political-parties-dont-want-you-to-know/