Turning Parliament Inside Out: Practical Ideas for Reforming Canada’s Democracy

Edited by Michael Chong, Scott Simms, and Kennedy Stewart. Douglas & McIntyre (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $22.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-77162-137-3
In this stiff collection of eight rather technical essays, current and former parliamentarians from four different parties offer ideas for reforming the Canadian parliamentary system. Green Party leader Elizabeth May complains of the undue influence of larger political parties, arguing that changing the voting system to a more consensus-based system with some form of proportional representation of political parties would “enhance cross-party cooperation, and reduce the excesses of prime ministerial power.” Liberal MP Anita Vandenbeld explores how to increase the numbers of women in Parliament, and New Democratic Party MP Niki Ashton writes about engaging young voters. The other essays focus more narrowly on the inner workings of parliament. Conservative MP Michael Cooper proposes reforming the time allotted for MPs to question the government but offers few concrete suggestions. NDP MP Kennedy Stewart looks at opportunities for rank-and-file backbench MPs to gain more control over the parliamentary agenda. Perhaps the boldest article, by Liberal MP Scott Simms, promotes the concept of a new Assembly of the Federation as a third Chamber alongside the House of Commons and the Senate. The book’s heavy focus on the plight of disempowered backbenchers and parliamentary machinery will limit its readership even among Canadian voters. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
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