Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht welcomes the idea of putting more power back in the hands of individual members, saying he likes the idea behind fellow Conservative Michael Chong’s Reform Act.
Chong, who represents Wellington-Halton Hills, introduced his Private Member’s bill last week, looking to reverse decades of centralized control in the prime minister’s office by returning power to individual MPs.
The proposals in the Reform Act would reinforce the principle of responsible government. It would make the executive more accountable to the legislature and ensure that party leaders maintain the confidence of their caucuses, said Chong in rolling out his bill.
The Reform Act, which would amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act, proposes three main reforms: restoring local control over party nominations, strengthening caucus as decision-making body, and reinforcing the accountability of party leaders to their caucuses.
Some of the proposed measures would put the power to select candidates in the hands of local riding associations, removing the veto from the PMO, and institute a leadership review if 15 per cent of caucus members voted to go that route.
Albrecht said there seems to be support for the bill among his colleagues, though he expects the proposed legislation to get a full airing in committee, as there are still some questions outstanding. It’s important, he noted, to hear from the grassroots, both in reviewing the bill and ensuring that the party members continue to have a say in the process.
The Parliamentary structure, he noted, allows for varied input and different perspectives, ensuring the bill will be fully vetted.
“Overall, I do support the intent of the bill,” he said this week from his Ottawa office.
In trying to get a handle on what his colleagues think of Chong’s bill, Albrecht says it’s “tough to measure” at this point – “some are supportive, some are leery.”
“I would say it’s somewhere around 50-50,” he said, adding that he expects MPs would be free to vote their will should the bill get that far. “I doubt very much that it would be a whipped vote.”
Albrecht said he’ll have to become better-versed in the technical aspects of the Westminster system and the history of how power was divvied up in Parliament.
Chong, who has long studied the matter, maintains his reforms would simply restore powers that were norm prior to increasing centralization in the last 30 or 40 years.
“He has an incredible knowledge of this,” Albrecht said of Chong. “I think this is going to be a great discussion.”