moved that Bill C-408, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (change of political affiliation), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, during this Parliament, we have seen need for legislation such Bill C-408.
The people of Elgin--Middlesex--London chose me as their representative here in Ottawa. It is a duty that none of us take lightly. The choosing of MPs can include many decisions, most important, the people themselves, their moral character, work ethic, past behaviour and the ability to problem solve. We are now shown that in the world of instant media of 30-second sound bytes, of CNN and other news channels, we are not judged as strongly or as closely as individuals in our ridings, as we may have once been. We are now chosen for our party affiliation, at least partly for that.
We could dispute whether it is good or bad that we are now chosen as members of a party rather than as individuals for the role of MP. However, I do not believe it is inaccurate that this is now happening.
The policies of a party or its leader now have a great deal of weight on the elector's decision. It is not only a choice made about the party today, but most likely an historic decision about the decision making process. What has this party done in the past? What are the current practices? What is the potential future behaviour of that party?
I came to this place with the true altruistic motives of continuing to help the voters of Elgin--Middlesex--London, to work hard to represent the interests of the riding. I also have discovered the need to help the government bring back this proud tradition to the House.
The beast of democratic deficit must be slain. We must return to a time of responsibility, a time of personal, individual and political responsibility. It is time to stand and be counted. Members are either here to represent their constituents and their wishes or they are not. If this is true and members elected find they cannot remain in the political party that they arrived in the House representing, then they should stand up for the constituents, go back to the people and let them verify the decision members have made to leave.
I would like to read a bit from the bill. It simply asks that:
If a member of the House of Commons leaves the political party to which that member belonged when the member was elected to the House of Commons, that member shall sit in the House of Commons as an independent for a period of 35 days.
At the end of that, it states:
Once the period of 35 days has elapsed, the member’s election to the House of Commons shall become void, the seat of that member shall be vacated, and a writ shall be issued for the election of a member to fill the vacancy.
The bill proposes that a member should to take it back home to ask his or her constituents if the choice is the right choice. They elected that person as a member of a party and as an individual. When one of those two things no longer becomes valid, we believe it should be the choice of the voters to make the difference.
We speak highly of this House, the decisions we make and what we stand for. There are times when what one party stands for is drastically different than what another party stands for. It is easy to see that in these days of Gomery reports and other scandals that perhaps a member may not be as proud to represent the party, but his or her electorate sent that member here to do that.
The point I am making is if members substantially change their affiliations, they must go back to the people who sent them here and ask them if that is what they want. It is not about what the member wants. It is about what the voters want. It is only right and fair that the decision making process remains with the group who is supposed to make it, and that is the voters.