Thursday, October 31, 2019

Is the ghost of the Reform Act, 2015, haunting Parliament

Michael Chong, Conservative, ex-Harper minister, and advocate of parliamentary reform, was re-elected in the recent federal election.  That's impressive. In Canada MPs who are insufficiently servile to the leader tend to find themselves being squeezed out of caucus and denied renomination. Or they just give up and decide to spend more time with their families, giving exit interviews to Samara Canada about the futility of being an MP.

But Chong's back in the House and cheekily reminding the Conservative (and other) caucuses that back in 2015 Parliament passed his Reform Act, 2015. That legislation gave parliamentary caucuses authority under the Parliament of Canada Act to, among other things, review and remove a leader who does not meet their expectations. It also required the caucuses to vote and report on whether they intend to take up that authority. 
In an email sent to all MPs and obtained by the Star on Wednesday, Conservative MP Michael Chong reminded his parliamentary colleagues of the “legal obligations” of each caucus to vote at its first meeting on a number of questions of protocol, including what powers it has for ousting its leader. The first Conservative caucus meeting will be held Nov. 6 in Ottawa.
Chong spearheaded parliamentary reforms in 2015 that allow every caucus to, among other things, empower itself to oust the party leader. If Conservatives decide to do so, a leadership review could be triggered if 20 per cent of all Conservative MPs and senators call for it. In other words, should the caucus choose to adopt the new rules and then 30 members vote for a leadership review, a secret ballot vote would be held on whether Scheer can continue as leader.
The party caucuses have largely ignored, and probably broken, the requirements of the 2015 amendments. MPs will probably do so again  -- "What, us, wield some authority? Just because we are the representatives of the Canadian people? Naaah."  

But the ghost of the act does walk the halls of Parliament. Maybe someday someone will breathe life into it.   
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