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article imageReport: Former Canadian MPs say party system ruining politics

By Andrew Moran     Apr 18, 2011 in Politics
Ottawa - A new reported released entitled "It's My Party: Parliamentary Dysfunction Reconsidered" highlights the frustration among former Members in the House of Commons over the party system Canada currently has in place.
Since the Canadian federal election was officially called last month, the mudslinging between political party leaders and their members began. “Bickering” and “debates” have consumed the political atmosphere, and with two weeks to go until Canadian voters head to the polls, it will persist.
A new report from the Canadian charitable organization Samara shows the dissatisfaction, disenfranchisement and embarrassment of former Members of Parliament in Ottawa’s House of Commons. The report, released Monday, provides in-depth views of former MPs who are discontented with the party system.
The report was constructed through exit interviews with former 65 MPs from all regions of the country who served on average 10-plus years in Ottawa and left office between 2006 and 2008. This report is the third out of a four-part series.
The House of Commons
Canada's House of Commons.
Sam (CC BY 2.0)
One of the primary aspects that made the MPs frustrated with Ottawa were the public displays of politics in the House of Commons because it showed how little was done during meetings, discussions and votes on important pieces of legislation. They noted that the public and caucus members viewed the political leadership as “unprofessional” and “arbitrary.”
Furthermore, the MPs felt that the most amount of work was accomplished outside of the media realm, which was generally in caucus and committee meetings. The reason for this was because politicians did not want to receive a negative image or public attention.
“Democracy relies on citizen engagement to thrive, but if MPs themselves are disenchanted with their own parties, then it should come as no surprise when citizens also choose to opt out,” stated the report. “After all, if MPs—who arguably benefit more than any other citizen from political party membership—claim that the party leadership pushes them away from constructive politics, is it any wonder that so many Canadians also turn away?”
Another factor that upset MPs was the “political debt” paid to those who were “less competent” and were appointed or promoted because of these debts. This added to the MPs being just as irritated as their constituents because of the “gamesmanship” of the House of Commons.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking at event in the Greater Toronto Area.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking at event in the Greater Toronto Area.
“If parties play a role in the current challenges facing Canadian politics, then they also have a role to play in helping to overcome them,” said Samara co-founder and executive director, Allison Loat. “It may well be time to discuss ways to revitalize our political parties, recognizing this process is integral to ensuring the health of Canadian democracy.”
Samara notes, though, that the report is not intended to discourage federal candidates from entering politics, but rather teach public officials, students and voters on the current state of Canadian policis.
Samara is looking at publishing the MPs’ accounts into material in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and educational institutions. The purpose of this is to help educate the general public on Canadian politics.
The next report will be released by the end of the year that will detail the MPs’ suggestions to improve Canadian democracy.
More about Canada Election 2011, Canadian Politics, It's My Party Parliamentary Dysfunction Reconsider, Canadian parliament, samara
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