A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Backbenchers just decoration?

In this era of hyper-partisanship, can backbenchers have an effective voice, or have they been relegated to the role of a modern Greek chorus, anonymous figures advancing a pre-determined story?

This is the question Hershell Ezrin asks in a short article in Ontario News Watch
“In defence of hyper partisanship, central party staff at federal and provincial levels monitor backbenchers’ social media output regularly. Faux loyalty moments like standing ovations have become “de rigueur” in Question Period. “Cheerleading” records are kept. Caucus meetings seem more devoted to unquestioning displays of loyalty than to serious confidential discussion and feedback sessions..........

Current political staff have been accused of being the disciplinarians for this alternate reality. To get ahead (trips, assignments and even promotion), backbenchers need to satisfy the enforcers that they are good team players. “

This discussion was of course brought on by the recent disagreement between a rookie MPP and her rookie leader in the Ontario legislature.

A Progressive Conservative legislator who publicly denounced Ontario's decision to eliminate the independent office of the French-language services commissioner and a planned French-language university severed ties with the Tories on Thursday, the culmination of a dispute that saw her vote against her own party's legislation.
In a letter to the Speaker of the legislature, Amanda Simard said her decision was effective immediately, and she will remain as an independent. New Democrats and Liberals said they were not aware of any efforts to recruit her to their ranks.
"I am no longer a member of the Progressive Conservative Caucus," Simard wrote in the short letter. "I will continue to take my place in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as an Independent.
The rookie legislator, who represents a largely Franco-Ontarian riding, broke ranks with Premier Doug Ford's government over the two controversial decisions affecting about 600,000 francophones in the province.”

It has also highlighted the amount of 'control' that the Ford Regime wishes to have over the entire legislative process...

The Progressive Conservatives fear some disgruntled MPPs are set to cross the floor to join the Liberals, the Star has learned. That’s a key reason why Premier Doug Ford is increasing the threshold for official party status in the legislature from eight MPPs to 12, a senior source says. Ford’s office closely monitors Tory members. Sources say they track who applauds in the legislature and watch for MPPs who do not quickly leap to their feet for ovations after the premier or ministers respond to opposition inquiries during question period.

“They keep tabs on everything,” said a fourth Tory .... Two party aides noted that speaking out in caucus meetings is also discouraged because they don’t want anyone to undermine team unity.

But is all of the above Premier Doug Ford‘s decision or that of his chief of staff Dean French who it is alleged effectively runs the caucus meetings and just about everything else in Fords government? French’s management style has been called into question by members of his own party and by the opposition.

Who is running the ship and where is it going, perhaps Ford is also just decoration?

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Lorne said...

Given what you describe here, Rural, it appears we have our own form of gerrymandering in Ontario.

Rural said...

I suspect we are just seeing the thin end of the wedge Lorne!

Owen Gray said...

There's nothing like "free and open debate" is there, Rural?

Rural said...

It seems to be increasingly MIA in our parliamentary system Owen!