In my view, the single most important policy resolution at this week’s convention in Montreal is the prioritized number 31, which should significantly reduce our democratic deficits.
That resolution reads:
31. Priority Resolution: Restoring Trust in Canada’s Democracy*BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Liberal Party pursue political reforms which promote:
- Open, democratic nominations of candidates;
- Fewer “whipped” votes in Parliament and more “free” votes requiring individual MPs to assume full responsibility for their decisions;
- Stronger Parliamentary control over public finances, including an annual deadline for the budget; accounting consistency among the Estimates and the Public Accounts; more clarity in voting on Estimates; a costing analysis for each government Bill; and a requirement that government borrowing plans must get Parliament’s pre-approval;
- A truly independent, properly resourced Parliamentary Budget Officer;
- A more effective Access-to-Information regime with stronger safeguards against political interference;
- An impartial system to identify and eliminate the waste of tax-dollars on partisan advertising;
- Careful limitations on secret Committee proceedings, Omnibus Bills and Prorogation to avoid their misuse for the short-term partisan convenience of the government;
- Adequate funding, investigative powers and enforcement authority to ensure Elections Canada can root out electoral fraud;
- Pro-active disclosure of parliamentarians’ expenses, a more transparent Board of Internal Economy and better audit rules;
- A truly independent Senate not based upon partisanship or patronage;AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better.Liberal Caucus(*) The democratic reform agenda described in this resolution represents a compilation of ideas developed by the Leader and the Caucus over the past year. Canadians want their Members of Parliament to be effective voices for their communities in Ottawa, and not merely mouthpieces in their communities for an all-too-powerful Prime Minister. Our goal must be greater transparency, accountability and participation in Canada’s political system, and fewer abuses which undermine the confidence of citizens and voters in the quality of their democracy.
The provision for an all-party commission to review significant electoral reform is the single most substantial step our country will take since the 1981 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
At long last, we have a chance of moving into modern democractic practices.
Please consider supporting this resolution in any way you can.