The rule of the unelected
Last month, retiring MP Keith Martin gave a heck of an interview to CBC's The Current, in which he listed all the ways in which a member of Parliament's job has been diminished. Martin singled out for special scorn the way in which MPs have become servants to unelected, partisan staffers. Do listen to the full interview if you have a chance.
This morning, a story in The Globe and Mail should remind us of what Martin is lamenting. John Ibbitson is reporting that the government and opposition parties have reached a deal to scrap C-12, the bill that would have added 30 more seats to the Commons to address the under-representation of urban areas -- particularly Ontario.
I take nothing away from Ibbitson's story -- if that deal has been reached, it's definitely worth reporting. But note how the elected folks, or their spokespersons, seem to be unaware of any deal, so much so that they actually contradict what the story asserts. The minister's office, Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, NDP MP David Christopherson -- all of them say that the bill is still alive. But the unelected, anonymous sources seem to know better. Look at this part of the story (emphasis mine):
Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher’s office said the minister was not available to be interviewed. However “our government is moving forward with the Democratic Representation Act,” said spokesperson Jessica Georgakopoulos. She added that “it is anticipated” that the bill will be brought forward for debate next year.
That supposition, however, is contradicted by higher officials within the government.
Again, taking nothing away from Ibbitson and his story, it's interesting that on the matter of a bill on democratic reform, there are "higher" people in government, who know more than the elected people about what's going on. If that's not an argument for reform, I don't know what is.