Mr. Speaker, tonight, I want to talk about the state of this House.
Let us face it, Canadian democracy is in deep trouble, especially since the current government came to power. It is not just the Conservatives, though, that are responsible for this mess we are in. The leaders of the Liberals and the NDP are more interested in crushing dissent within their parties than encouraging debate. MPs are often forced to vote against their consciences and against the will of their constituents. Anti-democratic attitudes abound in party backrooms.
For the past year, we have been discussing the proposed reform act introduced by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills. I truly believe that with this reform act, in its current form, we have an opportunity to transform Canadian democracy for the better.
Canadians can imagine my disappointment, but not surprise, when the three main parties waffled on their positions and criticized parts of this important bill. Canadians want change. They want democracy restored. The groundswell of support from ordinary Canadians for this bill is significant. Everyone I have spoken to has told me they are calling on their MPs to support this important legislation.
This reform act makes some long overdue changes that will make Parliament work better for Canadians again, instead of for party leaders. It would make party leaders more accountable to their MPs by establishing a leadership review process. It will end the requirement for a candidate's nomination papers to be signed by the party leader, the anti-democratic but little-known change to the Elections Act made by Pierre Trudeau in 1970.
This reform act will empower MPs to once again stand up for their constituents. It is the primary reason why I am supporting the bill in its current form. I even introduced a similar motion back in 2012. The reform act is important because it scales back the excessive powers of party leaders and restores local control over party nominations. However, recently, changes were proposed, I can only assume to placate the party leaders, that will weaken the most important parts of the bill and hand endorsement power right back to party leaders.
The reform act is only the beginning for democratic reform. Several other changes must be made to make Parliament more productive and less partisan. We must make our voting system more proportional to reflect the actual choices of Canadians. We must increase cross-party co-operation to end mindless partisan tribalism. We must take away the power of the Prime Minister to declare any bill a matter of confidence and to stop him from bullying Parliament, imposing bloated omnibus budget bills, and ignoring his own fixed election date law.
It is time we prevented parties from forcing their MPs to vote with their party. This summer the Green Party unanimously passed a resolution to ensure that their MPs would always be free to vote independently.
We must also restrict the unilateral power of the Prime Minister to appoint, without any oversight, senators, judges, parliamentary officers and many other positions.
The reform act, in its current form, is a step in the right direction. I urge my colleagues to recognize that it is time for all MPs who care about democracy to re-empower themselves and support the reform act in its current form, without weakening it further.
Will Conservative MPs, and indeed all MPs in this House, have the courage to vote for the reform act in its current form?