Send us your new ideas too
Justin Trudeau is asking Canadians to submit questions to him, which he promises to ask in the House of Commons. Why does this sound like a vaguely familiar idea? Well, because it is.
Back in 1994, the newly elected Reform Party caucus (which included a young fellow named Stephen Harper) announced that it would be asking questions faxed to its offices by ordinary Canadians. Here's one of the first questions that Harper's boss at the time, Reform Party leader Preston Manning, asked after taking his seat in the opposition benches in the Commons.
This has come to us. It is an inquiry received on our question fax line from Dr. Dean P. Eyre of Ottawa. He asked the government this question. He said: ``The government proposes to spend $6 billion on infrastructure and create 65,000 jobs. Has the government calculated how many jobs might have been created if that $6 billion were simply cut from the taxes of individuals, property owners and small businesses?''
Then there was a guy named Michael Ignatieff, who gave the same technique a try in the fall of 2010.
Mr. Ignatieff: Mr. Speaker, last week at a town hall in Toronto, a young man named Derek asked me a question and asked me to ask it of the Prime Minister, so here it is. “My question relates to the fiscal waste and mismanagement that this government is doing. They emptied the cupboard. Their spending is a hodge-podge with no real vision or direction. Why is the Prime Minister throwing away my generation's money in such a reckless, incompetent and visionless way? Why?
It's not entirely clear that this tactic worked for either Mr. Manning or Mr. Ignatieff, but it seems Justin Trudeau has decided it's worth another try. For what it's worth, Trudeau has also been borrowing heavily from Manning's oft-repeated rhetoric about MPs needing to be spokespersons for their constituents not their parties. Unlike Manning, he hasn't taken one of the Commons chairs on the road to make that point, but on the issue of democratic reform, Trudeau of 2013 sounds an awful lot like the Manning of 1993.