Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Fundamental Question

To whom should an M.P. be most accountable?

We have a Parliamentary system in this country, in which you elect an M.P. who may or may not belong to a political party. The majority of M.P.'s elected from a particular party forms the next government, and their leader becomes the next Prime Minister. Seems simple.

But in fact, it is quite complex, because the electorate is struggling with the task of attempting to integrate the values of the candidate with those of the party and the leader. Quite often there is a disconnect.

The fundamental question however, is how does that M.P. see their ultimate responsibility and call to accountability? Is it to the constituents or the party and leader?

To me this is a crucial issue, because it so dramatically affects an M.P.'s voting behaviour and their whole mission statement regarding how they approach politics.

For example, there is no question that Garth Turner feels that his primary responsibility is to his riding constituents. My own M.P. is as far away from that view as is possible. As Liberal party whip, she feels she can only vote according to party lines, and has never conducted any sort of survey regarding free vote issues (to the best of my knowledge).

All the others probably fall somewhere in between.

So here I am, essentially a disenfranchised Conservative supporter in the Ontario heartland. I have no voice in Ottawa, save for the generosity of nearby Tory M.P.'s who are kind enough to field my concerns.

Next time you vote, ask the candidate where their ultimate allegiance lies. The answer might influence your decision at the polls.


vicki said... are right ...and having a Lib in our riding for awhile we know that he bowed at the feet of the leader. Part of the problem in my area is the 'ostrich syndrome'(my name for it) The people I work with would rather talk about last night's 'reality' tv show than the real happenings in their country. When I try to discuss political topics I get the stare.They are an intelligent group, just disconnected from the political scene. It is that mentality that has allowed MP's to further their party agnda instead of accountability to their constituents.

Sara said...

i have a conservative mp and guess what his assistant does not help me in anyway. I'm caught between a rock and a hard place where I am. But have no fear my Mayor is jumping in lol

Mac said...

The majority of Canadians aren't "engaged" with their MP in any meaningful way. There is no practical way for an MP to have effective two way communications with the 100,000+ people who live in their riding.

The strengths and the weaknesses of the party system are similar. The individual MP demonstrates his/her policy positions and beliefs by which party they join but each MP is an individual so an exact "match" between party line and individual beliefs is highly unlikely.

At my workplace, there are only a few who pay attention to political topics. Like Vicki's group, they're intelligent enough but purposely not engaged in politics. How much of this is because of a learned distrust and distain for politicians brought about by the past decade or so of Liberal misrule?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Interesting comments. While I was out canvassing during the last election, I was was amazed at the number of people who either didn't have a clue or couldn't care less about who they were voting for. As Vicki and Mac said, most people are either jaded or they see politics as something that doesn't really affect them. Those are the first ones that start screaming when taxes are raised or something happens that they don't like.

Sara, if the assistant doesn't help you, have you tried contacting the M.P. directly? At least you have your mayor on your side.

Sara said...

We've been doing this alone for so long, I wouldn't know what to do if they actually helped anyways lol

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Sara - At least we finally have the right party in power. I would be surprised if the opposition tried to defeat the Conservative bills right now. It would be political suicide because nobody wants another election so soon.

vicki said...

and hopefully for the kids too joanne. With so much media exposing the faulty 'studies and stats' we hope people are seeing the Lib agenda for what it was....(that's if they aren't doing the ostrich) lol
sara...tell us more about your mayor!

Balbulican said...

So if your view is that an MP's ultimate duty is to his/her constituents, you must have been pretty darned appalled when Mr. Emerson chose to ignore what his riding voted for. Did you make your displeasure known to the party?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Well, Balbulican(?), you make a very good point. We can vote for people who profess to have their constituents' best interests at heart, but their actions may conflict with what we expect from them.

Regarding David Emerson, he feels he can serve his constituents best in this manner. Personally, I think having an M.P. working with the governing party should have lots of advantages. However, only David Emerson knows in his heart of hearts where his true motives lie. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Balbulican said...

I guess I ask because you commented that your MP votes along party lines, as opposed to voting in accordance with the will of her constituents.

I guess if she won an election running as a Liberal, she may be assuming that Liberal policy is what the voters wanted to see implemented - a not unreasonable premise, it seems to me.

Difficult issue, especially when it comes to issues of conscience.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Exactly. With so-called matters of conscience, she has explained to me that she must vote the party line or else it would appear odd. Good example is the SSM bill.

So even while many Liberal backbenchers consulted their constituents on this matter and voted accordingly, mine felt it necessary to do what Paul Martin wanted. That's fine if you want a puppet for a M.P.

Balbulican said...

I guess that's why people should be familiar with party platforms before voting.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yes, and even then there's no guarantee. It's not a perfect system, but it's all we've got, I guess.

Sara said...

My mayor is fully supportive, he sees what we see. They are stepping on any choice that isn't licensed daycare.. and its not fair. Heck he's calling for a $25,000 tax break for stay at home parents lol,,,