07 February 2009

Free-range politicians good for democracy

An editorial in the Montreal Gazette today brings up a good point, although its conclusion is too wish-washy for my taste.

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has been widely criticized for allowing this "one-time" freedom to a few MPs, and we can see why. How will he refuse the next provincial or regional dissident group? Nobody can imagine Premier Jean Charest allowing Geoff Kelley, Lawrence Bergman, Kathleen Weil, and Yolande James - and Pierre Marsan and Jacques Chagnon - to vote against party policy, on say Bill 104...

Canadians would be best served, we believe, if elected leaders broke ranks with their parties somewhat more often... Few matters, after all, really need to be questions of confidence for governments.

...In the long run, individual lawmakers would be more useful if they were not shackled so tightly by party discipline.

While I can't disagree with that, it doesn't go far enough. I'd prefer we had far more independent provincial/territorial and federal representatives. The political careers of Independent MP Bill Casey and former Independent MP Chuck Cadman demonstrate that even with the dominance of party politics in this country, such politicians can influence change.

How much more this would be the case if more people were to run without party affiliation.

Which is one reason I favour the Single Transferable Vote. It appears to be the most friendly of electoral systems to candidates running as independents.

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