Nov. 10, 2020

The institution of parliament brought into disrepute again

A Toronto MP is leaving the Liberal caucus after CBC News found she had employed her sister in her constituency office for years using public funds— a violation of parliamentary rules. Yasmin Ratansi announced her departure late Monday on Facebook. CBC NEWS

The House of Commons must deal with errant Members of Parliament. Party affiliation and political position are not relevant. Enforcing the rules of parliament is central to the integrity of democracy. Justice must be served. The standards for those elected to represent others should be higher than those for the people they represent.

No MP should be able to announce he or she is in violation of the rules and will continue to sit as an independent. That must be a decision of the House of Commons.

As a collectivity, the House of Commons has a certain number of rights which it claims or which have been accorded to it by statute. For example, the House claims the right to institute inquiries into any matter, to require the attendance of witnesses, and to order the production of documents. The Parliament of Canada Act confers the right to administer oaths to witnesses. 
The rights and powers of the House as a collectivity may be categorized as follows:

• the regulation of its own internal affairs;
• the authority to maintain the attendance and service of its Members;
• the power to discipline;
• the right to institute inquiries and to call witnesses and demand papers;
• the right to administer oaths to witnesses appearing before it; and
• the right to publish papers without recourse to the courts relating to the content.

The two most dominant rights or powers are the right of the House to regulate its own internal affairs and the power to discipline.

Take time to read through the specific powers illustrated in THIS LINK

We must end the current practice of allowing political parties to mete out discipline to elected Members. They sit to serve their constituents, not a political party. Any breach of rules must be judged by a House of Commons Committee of peers sworn to political neutrality.

Ratansi should lose her seat, and be required to reimburse parliament for funds wrongfully spent or face criminal charges. The Commons must also require an immediate by-election to fill the vacant position. Elections Canada rules must be changed to require an immediate by-election to fill a vacated seat.

An electoral district must not be left without a representative for up to 180 days following a vacancy. Whether or not a Member follows the instruction of a party whip is not a Commons discipline subject. The Member’s Oath to Parliament overrides his or her oath to a political party. Parliament, not a political party, reigns supreme. We have lost sight of that over recent decades.

The playpen bickering of political parties in parliament does not serve the people of Canada. We have to take back our nation and our institutions. Political parties are amoral, self-serving parasites that ignore the needs of the people who elected their members. They are the equivalent of ancient war lords battling for the right to rule over and subjugate us. They are destroying democracy.