Archived Letter – 489

A for effort
Last week we noted local MP for Wellington Halton Hills, Michael Chong’s ongoing efforts in making the House of Commons a better place to do business.
Perhaps one of the largest challenges facing a Member of Parliament is being heard. So it isn’t a stretch to understand how a well spoken person, new to the political scene might be a little taken aback at how mute many voices can be. Since his first days in Ottawa Chong has lobbied to make it easier for back benchers to speak, ask questions and generate debate on topics of interest to constituents back home.
A further point of Chong’s approach has been the idea that members of the House need to find a better way of talking to each other. The accusatory tones – on the part of all parties – makes it hard to get into a real discussion. Probably the committee meetings are far less raucous, as would be get-togethers outside the Commons, but the centre of democracy for our nation needs to wisen-up.
People need to work together and regrettably, the theatre which is Parliament, gives little confidence to working men and women (and students) when we see what goes on and how these adults interact. Such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in a workplace or classroom so what gives?
Some suggest the mood in the Chambers has worsened over the years. While we might find it convenient to blame the worsening social interaction of the public due to the pitfalls of the internet, the fact is this behavior has been ongoing for decades.
Chong has worked in earnest since 2010 and despite accolades for his effort, the legislation has languished in committee. As often happens, priorities overtake the agenda.
We find it lamentable that the promotion of a better democratic ideal, has itself fallen victim to the very system it hoped to improve. It could be argued that what we see and hear about the federal government is very much a scripted event with party leaders of all stripes generating the headlines or newsbites Canadians might hear on a daily basis.
There are countless issues that could use an airing to garner support from across the country by fellow legislators. The mega-quarry in Dufferin mentioned by Chong is one such example that happens across the country, where corporate interests collide with a community.
We have so much in common as Canadians, it’s hard to believe that democracy would not be improved by the awareness that would come about by local MPs speaking their mind.
Chong deserves an A for effort, in trying to forge a better way.