Friday, February 17, 2012

Colby Cosh on leadership accountability

As the Bodum coffee ads used to say, our idea is filtering through...
If you dislike the decline of Parliament and the ever-accumulating power of party leaders, the Original Sin was committed by the Liberals at their convention in 1919, and imitated since by everybody else. That was the fatal decision,historian Christopher Moore has written, that made Canada “unique among parliamentary democracies in the steps it took to reduce the ability of backbenchers to influence their leaders.”
And from a conservative-leaning commentator, this subversive thought:
Those enviable British Tories have something called the 1922 Committee, a body of Conservative backbenchers in which ministers aren’t allowed to vote. Until quite recently, they weren’t even allowed to attend except under special circumstances. Even today, with its prestige and authority diminished, the 1922 Committee has the power to vote no-confidence in the Conservative leader, and sometimes cheekily gives a platform to possible successors. The Prime Minister won’t consider devolving real, functional power onto a Canadian answer to the 1922 Committee, but what if those eligible for such a body just decided to meet anyway, and occasionally, dare I suggest it, have recorded votes on things? Do backbenchers actually want an alternative power base or not? 
Just to get even more self-referential, he's responding to the same problem of Chris Selley that I noted here.
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