PROPOSED PARLIAMENTARY REFORM
There are grave problems arising from current Parliamentary practices. Parliament is no longer a forum for public debate, but instead, has become a forum for the political party leaders to promote their agenda.
These practices have effectively left the public out of the loop by denying a role in parliamentary debate and the enactment of legislation. In short, the public no longer has any influence in the determination of public policy.
REAL Women of Canada believes that the path forward to restore legitimacy and public confidence in Parliament must include, but not be limited to:
- ending the practice of omnibus bills;
- allowing Ministers to choose their own staff free of PMO/PCO interference or approval;
- eliminating pre-approved “speaker lists” and the pre-approved subject matter for Question Period;
- the chairmen of the Committees of Parliament to be freely chosen by their respective committees;
- greater responsibility and independence to be given to Parliamentary committees;
- restoration of the free vote to Members of Parliament so as to permit their vote to reflect the views of their constituents and their own conscience;
- candidates for Parliament to be chosen by the local constituency only, without interference from either political party leaders or other political party officials;
- de-politicizing of the civil service and crown corporation appointments through open competition and the use of merit-based criteria and not patronage;
- a ban on political advisers/operatives being appointed to the public service;
- consistent with the de-politicization of the civil service, the advice of the Gomery Report should be followed recommending “the functions and titles of the Clerk of the Privy Council should be redefined, by legislation if necessary. The title of this official should be ‘Secretary to the Cabinet’, and his or her main role should be to represent the public service to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The designations ‘Clerk of the Privy Council’ and ‘Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister’ should be abolished. The Privy Council Office should be renamed the ‘Cabinet Secretariat’. The Secretary of the Treasury Board should assume the title and function of ‘Head of the Public Service’;”
- the appointments of the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Public Service to be approved by a free vote in the House of Commons and subject to re-confirmation with each newly elected Parliament; and
- the abolishing of the consistent and continuing centralization of privileges and power in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Privy Council Office (PCO), which has weakened parliamentary privileges, oversight of the executive, and Ministerial responsibility.