How Would You Redesign Parliament?

Today on "Wednesdays with @Kady: the CBC asked "How would you redesign Parliament?". I missed the chat, but my answer would not have fit neatly into a chat box anyway. Well, it might but without context and explanation most wouldn't have understood.

So, although my answer is late I'd fix parliament by abolishing the sentate and political parties parties as well as all political donations and nationalizing the electoral process.

It would go something like this:

  1. Every year one-forth of the members of Parliament would be up for election.

  2. Potential candidates gather 5,000 signatures in order to get on the ballot. Signatories must include contact information so that signatures can be confirmed if necessary. This would be the only part of the election that candidates were allowed to spend any money on.

  3. Elections Canada would then, for each local riding, create a website and a mailer with information about each candidate including their experience, education and positions on issues and a statement of their priorities and interests. Candidates would not be allowed to accept donations or spend money on the election.

  4. On election day voters would fill out a preferential ballot: They would rate the candidates from best to worst. So when the votes are counted, each of the first choices would be counted first. At the end of the first round of counting the ballots for the candidate receiving the least votes would be thrown out and the second choices from those ballots would be added to the total of the other votes. This would continue until a candidate achieved 50% +1 of the vote. For more info on how this works, start here.

  5. At the start of each year the Parliament would vote for not only the Prime Minister but each of the members of the cabinet and committee chairs.

  6. Obviously without parties there would be a free vote on every issue and every proposed amendment.

This would allow for a freer, more open and transparent parliamentary process. It would recognize individuals as individuals and as representatives of their constituents and not as representatives of a party. It would allow individuals to weigh issues individually and not as part of an overarching ideology or party line.

It would make money irrelevant in the political process. It would lower the barriers to entry into the political process and allow anyone who wanted to serve an opportunity to put their ideas before the voters. It would allow the government and its positions to evolve and change over time, rather than have governments crash and be rebuilt. It would ensure that the Government of Canada was always more important than any single individual or political party and it would encourage discussion, conversation and compromise over attempts to score political points.

There would, after all, be no campaigns going on within Parliament. As an MP, the other MPs would only be other individuals, elected by their ridings and not members of an opposing party. Even the Government itself would be made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and points of view and not representatives of a single ideology.

Obviously I do not expect the Members of Parliament who are also members of political parties and beholden to donors and interest groups to endorse this plan, but the question was "How would you redesign Parliament" and not "what do you think is likely to happen".

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