Prescription for a healthy democracy

RXStaying healthy takes good nutrition and exercise.  To rescue democracy we need to exercise our democratic muscles, and get issues out in the daylight.  The boldest step would be to ban political parties altogether. Seeing that there will be significant opposition to that, some more modest steps will make a big difference. Here’s Dr. May’s prescription:

  1. Reduce the power of party leaders.  Remove the requirement in the Elections Act for the leader’s signature on nomination forms for candidates, effectively removing the biggest club leaders have to keep candidates and MPs in line;
  2. Reduce the centralization of power in the Prime Minister’s Office by mandating a significant cut in the PMO budget  — by at least half;
  3. Make every vote count.  End the “winner take all – First Past the Post ” system and bring in some form of proportional representation;
  4. Return to evidence based decision making. Restore a professional, respected non-partisan civil service.  Rebuild the scientific capacity of the government of Canada;
  5. Make the Parliamentary Budget Office a stand-alone operation, free of political interference, and reporting to Parliament;
  6. Empower Members of Parliament.  Restore the principle that all MPs are equal. Remove restrictions on ability to submit amendments. Allow MPs to elect committee chairs. Eliminate “whipped” votes;
  7. Empower the Speaker to enforce the rules of the House.  (He has those powers now, but Speakers have not used these powers for a few decades).  Punish members by refusing to recognize them if they are rude and disrespectful;
  8. Bring in real transparency.  Make all MP and Senate expenses public.  Right now, I am the only MP publishing all my expenses, including personal expenses, with original receipts scanned and on my website;
  9. Address Senate reform.  Open conversations with the provinces to assess potential for an improved institution within the constraints of the Constitution.  Should it represent an assembly of municipal voices along provincial lines? Should it be abolished? Elected?