Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in support of Motion No. 535, which I moved. First of all, I want to thank all the parliamentarians who took the time to debate this issue, over the course of two hours of debate, to share their thoughts, to contribute to the discussion and to be thorough, as is necessary in any debate.
Are people afraid of change? Yes, the motion I moved involves some significant changes. These days people are cynical about politics. Parliamentarians should really be asking themselves some questions. We should be looking into why nearly 40% of people do not vote. Some people look to the voter and ask why they did not vote, but I look at us, here in the House, and I think that we need to change our processes. We cannot ignore the fact that democracy is ailing, and when someone or something is ailing—in this case, democracy—we need to make changes and fix what is wrong.
My fix would give more powers to the members. Over time, political parties have become more influential in the House of Commons. Originally, the House of Commons was designed as a place for elected members of Parliament to speak on behalf of their constituents. I understand that there are reasons, in terms of logistics and coordination, for the existence of political parties. I am not saying that they should not exist and should not develop strategies to get across a consistent message in their speeches, in order to score some points against the government or even other parties.
However, we cannot forget that at the very heart of democracy is the idea of electing representatives who have the power and even the duty to come to the House of Commons and to ask questions, pass laws and hold the government accountable. Over time, this power has eroded. Members have increasingly become champions of their party's wishes in their own ridings. Sometimes, they even become their party's spokesperson in their community, instead of being the spokesperson for their community, their region and their territory here in Parliament.
The motion I am moving today is primarily designed to correct certain shortcomings. It is not perfect, I admit. Each of us has a vision of how to reform question period. The motion I am proposing would give each opposition MP one question per week. Members would have had the time to take a close look at the motion. The question slot is assigned to an MP, who can allow the party to use it, trade it with another MP or agree, within the party, to use it in a way that would allow for that unity, that consistency, that powerful impact that each party wants to have in the House of Commons.
Currently, it is the party that determines which MP will be entitled to ask a question. I have heard from members who said that they have asked for the right to ask a question in the House of Commons, but they were not allowed to do so. For various reasons, their party denies them the basic right to question a minister, the government. This motion aims to change that.
I offered to make a presentation to all the parties, to answer questions, both to clarify the philosophy behind the motion and to explain how simple and workable it is. It was drafted with the House's legal experts. It was not drafted in a partisan manner. Every party can define their own terms to make it applicable in everyday life. Ensuring that MPs can have the power to ask questions is fundamental.
The second thing, of course, is to ensure that every member who has the qualifications and expertise can choose the committee he or she would like to sit on, according to the concerns of his or her constituency. That makes sense. Again, a very simple mechanism that would allow the member to trade places with other members, according to the party's strategy, or a strategy that would identify that member as the right person to defend the people of his riding in the interest of the party.
I invite all members to vote, to reflect over the holidays, ask me questions, contact me and see how this motion could contribute to improving democracy.
This is a good motion. Our cravings for democracy might not all be the same. Nonetheless, I invite people to chew on this during the holidays and change the practices of the House.