Why I will be supporting the 'Reform Act'

Many of you have contacted me regarding Michael Chong’s constructive private member’s bill which he has termed The Reform Act 2013.

I commend Michael Chong on this initiative and I will support this bill at second reading.

Our Leader, Tom Mulcair, has confirmed that there will be a free vote on this Bill. We hope that the other parties will follow our lead and hold free votes on this very important question.

Did you know?  As it stands, the NDP is the only party that conducts a leadership review every two years and we are the only party that would subject a sitting Prime Minister to a leadership review. Since the last election, both Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair faced leadership reviews. No other party has had a leadership race and two reviews in the last two and a half years.

As for the other elements in the Bill, the NDP already elects its caucus chair. We also already have open nomination contests.

Amongst other things, Mr. Chong’s bill would add a new mechanism to trigger leadership reviews by giving MPs from party caucuses the ability to start the process when they are dissatisfied with their leader. What this does is codify elements of constitutional conventions based on the traditions of Parliament.  The election of a new leader would then be left to the political party and the membership. 

In the NDP, we're always interested in working on ways to improve democracy. We are here to fix Parliament and we have been doing so with other initiatives, including: promoting electoral reform, including proportional representation; taking partisanship out of the Senate on the road to abolition; making the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) an independent officer of Parliament; preventing fraudulent robocalls; enhancing decorum in the House of Commons; limiting the use of in-camera procedures in committees; allowing online petitions; calling for independent oversight of MP expenses and subjecting Parliament to the Access to Information Act.

Mr. Chong’s bill is consistent with the many NDP efforts to reform our broken parliamentary democracy, and it specifically addresses some of the means the leader of the governing Conservative Party uses to undermine the functioning of the House of Commons.

I certainly welcome a discussion about how best to increase accountability and to improve democracy in the House of Commons, including breaking the stronghold of the PMO.

Murray Rankin

Member of Parliament (Victoria)