By the skin of its teeth, the Reform Act, 2014, was passed by the 41st Parliament in its dying days.
The major party caucuses are now beginning to gather for the new Parliament, scheduled to open in December. This will be the first test of a bill that its author, Michael Chong, hopes will help restore the essence of parliamentary democracy.
Mr. Chong's bill requires each party caucus, after every general election, to take a recorded vote on whether the caucus will submit itself to the reforms in the bill, or stick with the status quo.
If the caucus members vote to submit themselves to the legislation, they will be able to remove the caucus chair or the leader – the prime minister included – or expel a member, if 20 per cent of the members call for a review. If the 20-per-cent threshold is reached, then there is a second, secret vote. If 50 per cent plus one of all caucus members vote to remove the leader or the chair, or expel a member, then that's what happens.
For too long, MPs have been treated like trained seals by party leaders and their whips. MPs that dared to think independently found themselves arbitrarily banished from caucus. The Reform Act returns some balance to Parliament. We urge all the caucuses to show some gumption and vote in the interests of a stronger Parliament by submitting to the Reform Act.