One night not so long ago I was in bed thinking instead of sleeping, which I seem to do more today than yesterday and I was thinking thus:
Power in the hands of a few people, or one person, has the ablility to be very destructive. It will overcome common sense, lead to acts of extravagant stupidty, blind ideology, destruction of values and to wars both within a country and in foreign lands.
Over the years checks and balances were created to protect against absolute power, but even those can be overcome as is now happening in Canada, where by mischance both the House of Commons and its Speaker, the House of Sober Second Thought and the courts have all fallen under the control of one man….Or have they.
This led me to write this letter to all the Conservative Party of Canada backbenchers on February 21st 2012:
The letter was entitled “What if”.
An open letter to Government backbenchers.
Some of you will not read this because I am not from your riding, but I hope most of you will as it is not an attack upon you or the government caucus to which you belong.
It is generally accepted that the power of government rests with the PMO and the Cabinet , but that is, in my view, an illusion. The power rests with you the “back benchers” because without your support the government and its agenda cease to be.
I have watched on CPAC as some of you read PMO statements and as you stumble over words like ‘democracy’ or phrases such as ‘represent your constituents’ (usually directed at the opposition members), I have to wonder if perhaps you are in entire agreement with what you are reading. Maybe you are but what if you are not? What if you question this whole represent your constituents thing?
The job of the opposition is to study proposed bills, offer suggestions or amendments to improve them in both the house and committee, or to vote against them if those improvement suggestions are rejected and they believe the bill to be bad for the Canadian people.
I would submit to you that your job as a government backbencher is no different. I do not think your job is to just rise from your seat and vote when so directed by thePMO.
Being an MP is not an easy job; being away all week that the House is sitting; being available to your constituents when you are home; sacrificing family life to live in a hotel or lonely apartment in Ottawa; working on committees and keeping up with what must be endless correspondence requires dedication, and I applaud you for that.
But is it not in the interests of your constituents to ensure that legislation is the best it can be for them? You were elected to be their MP. If we look at the national average then 25% of eligible voters or 39% of actual voters in our current system elected this government. This means that 61% of the actual voters did not vote for you, yes in some ridings this was not the case but I am using the national average. Does this mean that 61% of your constituents are not represented by you, and if so how democratic is that?
What if you actually went to the Liberal, NDP, or Green people who represent the majority in your riding and asked them what they think? What if you actually represented your whole riding to Ottawa, not the government to your selected minority of the riding? That is your job, and if you do that why would you ever be rejected by the people or your party?
Democracy in Canada has been dead for years because we the people are not only under represented but are largely ignored except at election time, and it is, I think, because of fear of rejection by the ‘party’ that causes MP obedience to the party line. Yet the party of any government is made up largely of backbenchers such as you and without you they have no clout. If by standing up in the House, or in committee, and asking for the best for the people of Canada you feel you run the risk of being rejected by your party I have to ask:
Is this what you would be doing, going against the party or are you actually saying to the leader that you have a voice on behalf of all the people of your riding and you should be heard because your support is very important, actually vital, to the government?
I leave you with this thought.
There is an opportunity to reclaim parliament, at all levels, for the people of Canada and it rests with you the backbenchers of this government to do this.
You have the power but will you use it?
Thank you for reading this.