It's an indication of just how far we have strayed that Michael Chong's bill merely seeks to put centuries old parliamentary conventions in writing. Not surprisingly, Andrew Coyne writes, there are a chorus of naysayers:
The bill, it was said, would never pass. Or if it did, would make no difference. Worse, it might. Parliament would be destabilized, said some, by a series of democratic “palace coups” against party leaders by their faithless caucuses — the same caucuses who, others maintained, had shown no interest in using their existing power to do the same, and thus had demonstrated it was unwanted. Or rather they had, many times — and thus had proved its superfluity.
Remove the power of the leader to decide who may run under the party banner, warned some, and it would lead to a wave of neo-Nazis hijacking nomination meetings. At best, it would empower tiny parliamentary factions to divide and disrupt the party’s business. No, claimed others: giving a majority of caucus the power to expel a member would inevitably give rise to mob rule, and the suppression of unpopular opinions.
Some claim the bill will not pass. But, Coyne writes, "more and more MPs and other influential voices, from James Rajotte to Bob Rae to Hugh Segal, have come out in its favour. "It is people like Pierre Poilievre, with the Orwellian title of Minister for Democratic Reform, who are against the bill.
Others claim the bill would legalize coup d'etats. We should fear the unknown they say. That's a red herring:
It is easy, of course, to conjure up all manner of devils from the unknown. But in this case the unknown is well known. The proposal before us is merely to replicate the model already in place in the other Westminster democracies: the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. It is, indeed, the model on which this country was founded, and under which it grew to maturity, but from which we have strayed in recent decades. It is to that system — the system of Macdonald and Laurier — that the bill would return us, nothing more.
Chong's bill would reinstate responsible government. We used to believe in it -- government of the people, by the people, for the people.