Saturday, March 08, 2014

How many premiers and party leaders could pass the Chong test?

Michael Chong's Reform Act (full text here) would legislate a process by which a parliamentary caucus vote could remove a leader and trigger a mass party leadership race. It would be better to trigger a selection of the new leader by the same caucus that just removed the old one, but oh, well, it's a start.

Today the Globe and Mail examines the unpopularity of Alberta premier Alison Redford with both the public and her caucus. "How much do we in the room trust her?" says one anonymous MLA. The story has just a hint of Ted Morton's paranoid but maybe true allegations that people like Redford become Tory leaders in Alberta because when the party has a leadership race, socialists, liberals, civil servants, and people from Edmonton are mean enough to buy up memberships/votes in order to select not-Ted-Morton.

These hints and nudges about the unpopularity of the premier makes you think: If Chong's bill already applied, would caucus distrust of Premier Redford be sufficient to trigger the removal/retention vote foreseen in Chong's bill. To put it more generally:  How many of the premiers and party leaders in Canada would be at risk of losing their jobs in a Chong parliament?

Of course, we are never allowed to know. We know Redford's approval rate is 20% among the electorate, but what is it among the MLAs who actually keep her in power and enact her legislation day by day? Absent a Chong process, we wouldn't be allowed to know even if it was 20%

Preamble to the Reform Bill:
Whereas Members of Parliament are elected by their constituents to represent them in the Parliament of Canada;Whereas the leadership of political parties must maintain the confidence of their caucuses; And whereas, in Canada, the executive branch of government is accountable to the legislative branch in accordance with the concept of responsible government, which is the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy;....

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