From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Irrelevant by choice

As Trudeau famously quipped regarding backbench MPs, "When they are 50 yards from Parliament Hill, they are no longer honourable members, they are just nobodies." but it needn't be to be so. While true power is increasingly concentrated in the leaders offices of every party no matter their stripe it is the backbenchers given their number who have the real power in our system if only they choose to exercise it.

Instead they choose to act as trained seals, clapping on command. They content themselves by regurgitating talking points and  standing to vote as told. I choose to believe that the vast majority got involved in politics for the right reasons, because they believed  strongly in something and felt they could make a contribution. However somewhere along the way they were convinced that the only role they could play was to defend the party, tossing away any principles the may have had.

Some say we should feel sorry for the lowly backbencher, bullshit, they made their choice. They chose to be irrelevant instead of showing courage and fortitude. They chose to put their parties ahead of their constituents and country. Now if any of them particularly on the government side of the house/legislature were to choose to stand up for their constituents in defiance of their leaders and parties, not only will the gain a measure of self respect but will become known as honourable from coast to coast to coast


  1. Although our political system generally requires party discipline, where members are expected to vote with their party, there have to be moral limits to that discipline, Kev. Ergo, given the zeal with which Conservative backbenchers and cabinet wannabes support Harper, they deserve, and certainly receive from me, nothing but contempt.

    1. There are many ways for backbenchers to flex some muscle without voting against their party, they could do so in caucus or at committee. They could for instance refuse to go in camera without just cause.

      Of course the media deserves some blame here as well, always framing debate as dissension.