Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NDP MP wants to ban floor crossing

I'm now convinced that the NDP have no concept of how our parliamentary democracy actually works in Canada.

They want to abolish the senate.  But they also want proportional representation to reflect the actual percentage of the popular vote to match the number of seats per party in the lower house.  I've already explained their contradiction in this, but essentially, where are the members for these extra seats going to come from, since the public isn't voting for them specifically, so they only represent a party and not a district, and so how are they held accountable?  Their argument is that they want a check against our first-past-the-post system, but an equal and elected senate would actually cover that and balance it out. (I'll save my further arguments against proportional representation in another post.)

And now NDP MP Peter Stoffer wants to abolish floor crossing.  Seriously, what planet is this guy living on?   He wants to prevent an elected representative of the public from switching caucuses in the House of Commons.  During new MP orientation, don't they give them an idea how the Westminster Parliamentary System works?  I guess not.

If the NDP won't accept floorcrossers then they can have their own policy and not accept the member until they run in a by-election or general election.  But it's typical NDP socialist thinking that their will should be the will of everyone, even upon the public.

Why do I say "public"?  I've discussed this before, but in the House of Commons, parties do not actually exist, but caucuses do.  Despite what some think or how people base their vote on, we elect people, not parties.  It's a person's name on the ballot along with their "political affiliation".  Sure the "political affiliation" gives us an idea of their political views and what caucus they're likely to sit with in the Commons, but if we just elected a party, then they should only show the party name on the ballot. But they don't, so really their argument is moot.

Not only that, our parliamentary history books are filled with records showing MPs switching caucuses or forming coalitions.  Coalitions.  Hmmm, you'd think the NDP would support that.  Coalitions are perfectly legal, but if a coalition government formed out of the opposition parties to take over from a minority government without first going to the public, like we recently almost had, then I think those parties should make it known that that is always their intention. We only had ambiguity from the Liberals on that one and I think the voting public deserves to know what the intention is.

Anyway, having MPs switch caucuses is congruent to a typical voter switching who they support at any time.  That dynamic is extremely important to our democracy and its will is organic in real-time.  There are many examples of where the MP simply states that he or she can no longer support the caucus of the party he or she represents due to policy and then he or she will sit as an independent or ask to join another caucus.  But it is their fundamental right to sit and be accepted into any caucus in the Commons.  Preventing that from happening instantaneously completely undermines our representative democracy.

Then at the next election, if the voters don't like it, let the voters decide.  (By the way, I'm also against recalling an MP.)

I just hope that there are less than 13 Conservative MPs who support this crazy idea or none at all.  I'm also shocked that this notion isn't also completely out of order in even making it to the floor.


maryT said...

Would Mulcair be considered a floor crosser or party crosser. The voters will have their say in the next election. I recall a couple of AB mps switching, and being defeated next time around. One ended up in the senate. And both of them got cabinet posts. The senator was my mp for many years.
Bud Olsen, Jack Horner, were the culprits, I think.
Has anyone ever crossed to the ndp, in 50 years. No wonder they are against it.

Dance...dance to the radio said...

I've seen others say this:
-is to keep the Quebec MPs from forming their own caucus if they want to split.
-is to allow Jack to do a pirouette after a yes vote and claim the NDP is getting Results in Ottawa.

Bad move.
Removes power from MPs who have little as it is.

Patsplace said...

I think that Jack is nervous that his caucus might revolt and form their own caucus, without Jackie Rub'n'Tug.

Sixth Estate said...

I'm sympathetic to the idea of holding politicians honest, but frankly I don't know how you can outlaw crossing the floor.

What if I leave my caucus, don't join the other party, just vote their way on everything? What if they invite me to attend their caucus meetings even though I'm not a member? And so on and so forth. All of those things would be entirely legal and appropriate.

The NDP is trying to capitalize on something that tends to be unpopular, crossing the floor, but I think in our system there's really no way to prevent it. If you don't trust a candidate to represent your interests faithfully, don't vote for him or her.

Anonymous said...

"The 1969 election was a watershed in Manitoba politics, and resulted in a dramatic shift in Desjardins's career. Under Edward Schreyer's leadership, the social-democratic NDP moved from third to first place, winning 28 seats out of 57 in the assembly. This was one short of a majority, and there was initial uncertainty as to which party or parties would form government. There was some consideration of an "anti-socialist coalition", which would have brought together all parties except the NDP under the leadership of former Liberal leader Gildas Molgat. This, however, did not occur. The impasse was ended when Desjardians announced that he would offer parliamentary support to the NDP, and change his party affiliation to Liberal-Democrat.

Desjardins's change of affiliation was significant, and on some levels surprising. He had previously been known as an opponent of socialism, and Manitoba's francophone population had not traditionally been supportive of the New Democratic Party before this time. Nevertheless, Desjardins was able to form an alliance with Schreyer (himself a centrist New Democrat), on the understanding that he would be able to continue to work in favour of denominational school funding on the government side. Desjardins became Schreyer's legislative assistant in 1969, and formally joined the New Democratic Party in 1971.

On December 1, 1971, Desjardins was appointed Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Cultural Affairs


Sixth Estate said...

Anonymous -- If you have to go back to the 1970s to find an example of a floor-crossing incident linked to the NDP, then they're doing a good bit better than the other two parties.

Fortunately, though, I doubt you do. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but there's probably a more recent one than that. And of course the more ambitious NDP have moved into Liberal ranks in recent years, a la Dosanjh and Rae.