What I Want from My MP

To the Hon. Mark Warawa, Canadian Member of Parliament for Canada:
cc the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:


I'd like to bring this article from the BBC's website to your attention:

It includes a 42 minute excerpt from the British House of Commons which I found very interesting, not so much for the content of the debate (which is interesting) but for the number of stern questions Labour backbenchers posed to a minister of their own government. The outline of the clip is as follows with comments from Labour MPs in bold:

Statement: David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
Rebuttal: William Hague (Cons.), Shadow Foreign Secretary
Counter: 14:15 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
19:00 Ed Davey (Lib. Dem.), Foreign Affairs Critc
21:14 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
23:30 Diane Abbott (Lab.) Hackney North
24:30 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
25:38 David Davis (Cons.)
26:45 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
28:45 David Winnick (Lab.)
29:33 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
30:45 Julian Lewis (Cons.)
31:22 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
32:17 Keith Vaz (Lab.)
32:46 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
33:12 Douglas Hogg (Cons.)
34:07 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
35:10 Dari Taylor (Lab.)
36:01 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
36:20 Andrew Tyrie (Cons.)
37:12 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
38:21 Jeremy Corbyn (Lab.)
39:02 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
39:44 Henry Bellingham (Cons.)
40:03 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
40:52 Paul Flynn (Lab.)
41:14 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary
41:53 Martin Linton (Lab.)
42:16 David Miliband (Lab.), Foreign Secretary

Especially scathing were the comments from David Winnick (at 28:45) and Diane Abbott (23:30), no less those of the MP representing the riding where Binyam Mohammed's family resides, Mr. Martin Linton (41:53).

I don't recall the last time a non-cabinet member of a Canadian ruling party did that sort of thing and I think it's a sorry lack. Several times now I've sent you comments about the ACTA legislation that keeps bubbling up in the House -- and I'm sure I'm not the only Canadian to complain to his or her Conservative MP about that measure. When will you MPs stand up for the concerns of your constituents against your own Primer Minister and Cabinet? We elect you. You! for crying out loud. So please start thinking of things from your constituents' point of view and show some spine.

Again, on my "pet issue", I ask you: Do YOU want your children or their friends to be criminalized by not necessarily well-founded accusations leveled at them, not to a due-process-bound law enforcement agency, but to their ISP? accusations not made by individual Canadians, or even Canadian firms guarding the interests of Canadian aritists, but by large American conglomerates? The American DMCA and laws of its ilk (like ACTA, as the leaks have helped to inform us) are headed in that direction. Will you be complicit in stripping away our freedoms like this? Don't be. Again, show some spine!

And Mr. Harper, if there's one thing you can do for the welfare of all Canadians that will put paid to the ongoing whispers that you're scary and people can't trust you, it would be to shrink the offices of Prime Ministerial power back down toward the size they were before Pierre Trudeau's tenure in office and to put the power back in the hands of the MPs, the committees and ultimately the people. I recognize and appreciate the intentions you have of reforming the Senate: make it more accountable. But even before you do that, work to reverse the structures that turn a newly elected MP's loyalty away from his or her constituency where it ought to be, and toward caucus and to cabinet where (valid!) concerns about his or her career drive them to place it. That would be a worthy goal, and one that all Canadians would grow to appreciate.


Arthur N. Klassen

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