- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre (May 13 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1771621370
- ISBN-13: 978-1771621373
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #88,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada's Democracy Paperback – May 13 2017
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About the Author
Kennedy Stewart is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Burnaby South. He is currently the NDP Critic for Science and chair of the NDP's British Columbia caucus.
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The Introduction states that there are three themes in the book: party control, representation, and debate, though I did not get that impression on first reading.
There are forewards by Ed Broadbent, Preston Manning and Bob Rae. The main body of the book is 8 chapters as follows:
Elizabeth May: Westminster Parliamentary Democracy: Where Some MPs Are More Equal than Others.
Michael Cooper: How to Fix Question Period: Ideas for Reform.
Kennedy Stewart: Empowering the Backbench: The Story of Electronic Petitions.
Michael Chong: Rebalancing Power in Ottawa: Committee Reform.
Nathan Cullen: Speaking in Parliament.
Anita Vandenbeld: Breaking the Parliamentary Glass Ceiling.
Niki Ashton: Social Media, Social Movements and Young-Voter Engagement.
Scott Simms: Introducing the Assembly of the Federation: The House of Sober First Thought.
These are all thought-provoking. Some of the ideas are so obvious that one wonders why they were not implemented years ago.
Ed Broadbent states that 'democracy requires citizens to be actively engaged ...' If even one percent of the population tried to be heard on different issues there would be bedlam. The National Energy Board was recently faced with a much lesser demand and decided it would not listen to the majority. This problem needs to be faced, but is not faced here.
The dominant issue is that, surprisingly, parliament is no longer in charge as we discovered a few years ago when parliament declared the government to be in contempt of parliament. MPs are only there to vote as their party leaders tell them to; in the words of Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan in 'Tragedy on the Commons' they have been 'disintermediated'. The only place where this is seriously discussed is in the Conclusion wherein it is suggested that MPs should defy the whips and suffer all the consequences; this is a totally impractical suggestion.
The solution is to change the electoral system to one in which thoughtful Independents can readily get elected, as for example in Ireland and the Australian Senate. The result will be representation in proportion to voters' values, and, in Elizabeth May's words, consensus-based decision making. All the evidence, assembled by Arend Lijphart in 'Patterns of Democracy', shows that we will be better off, and live in a kinder, gentler society.
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