Retiring from politics after 17 years, MP Dr. Keith Martin, (Reform, Alliance, Ind, Lib), spoke on CBC’s The Current last week about the “serious, serious lack of democracy in Parliament . . . the tragedy of the Commons”.
Martin began as a Reform MP in ’93, attracted by the Reform Party Contract which listed MP’s duties in the following order: first your conscience, then your constituents, and lastly your party and leader.
So what went wrong with that?
Harper beat out the more populist Preston Manning.
“Mr. Harper is a follower of a political philosopher in the U.S. called Leo Strauss, and essentially Mr. Harper’s philosophy is that a small number of people would rule and tell everybody else what to do and that is the best form of government.
“The larger problem is that within leaders’ offices, prime minister’s offices, the people around them are unelected, generally very young, and tend to be extremely partisan. They’re hired by leaders to do the job and they have much more power than members of parliament do. They control much of what goes on on a day-to-day basis with respect to the tactics and strategy. But these are very young people — they are not terribly experienced in the real world — they may be smart in certain ways, but they haven’t knocked on doors, they haven’t run for political office, they are not as connected to the citizens on the ground as those who have gone through the election process.
“So the people calling the shots, the rabid partisanship, tends to revolve around leaders’ offices and they basically tell the MPs what to do. And that’s a complete perversion of democracy.”
Martin says the vast majority of his colleagues and friends from across party lines regret the shift to damaging, rabid, hyper-partisanship imported from the U.S., which silences innovation, debate, and bipartisan co-operation, while rewarding juvenile mudslinging with career advances.
While the Korys and the Dimitris call the shots, and are protected from appearing before parliamentary committees to account for their actions, elected MPs’ chances of career advancement increasingly depend merely upon their ability to fling poo.
And in this way Harper, never much of a democracy fan, has sidelined parliament from dealing with any of the real issues facing Canada, opting instead for inventing mock problems that can only be solved by further attacks on democracy.