To the editor,
For sure voting is important, but once the polling booths shut down, the votes are counted and our elected MP heads off for Ottawa, do we know how effective he/she can be in Parliament?
The Samara Centre for Democracy, a non-partisan charity dedicated to strengthening our democracy, conducts interviews with MPs who have either retired or been defeated to discover what they thought of their role in Parliament. Many of them reported feeling cut off from the essential work of scrutiny, legislation and representation for which they felt they had been elected. Many complained about overbearing party leaders and their staff and their own decreasing agency. They felt that increasing use of time allocation, the lack of opportunity to become informed about an issue and the hyper partisanship of committees where true debate was impossible curtailed their effectiveness and wasted their time. A picture emerges of how our MPs currently use their time in Parliament that could change through minor reforms or just political will.
Instead, we would hope our MP would be able to directly influence policy, shape legislation, contribute to careful and sophisticated scrutiny of government free of party control, and be equipped with the time and information to become expert without having to rely on or kowtow to party leaders or their unelected staff. We would hope that debates are real and informed and do not consist of partisan talking points.
With sufficient political will by all parties, our political representation could improve. Our MP could be independent, thoughtful, engaged and empowered in Parliament, in the constituency and the party. We would see clear lines of accountability but also collaboration across parties and even if we disagree with our MP’s views at times we would value his/her integrity in speaking out when supported by the evidence in a civil and accessible manner.
So as you approach the voting booth think about which of our candidates would fit this profile best and which party would more likely allow him/her to do what they are elected to do on our behalf.
Liz Fox, Lantzville
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin.
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