POLITICS

NDP motion to give Speaker more power latest effort to reform Parliament

09/29/2014 01:12 EDT | Updated 11/29/2014 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - The New Democrats are seeking to get more out of question period by giving the Speaker more power to interrupt MPs who don't answer questions — the latest in a series of recent efforts to reform elements of Parliament. Some others:

— Conservative Michael Chong introduced a private member's bill seeking to shift the balance of power between caucuses and party leaders, giving more influence to individual MPs and local ridings for leadership and party nominations. But to garner support from all parties for the bill, Chong has agreed to amendments that are likely to weaken the bill's goals.

— in March, all parties supported a Liberal motion for the public disclosure of all travel and hospitality expenses incurred by MPs. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives had already taken this step but the motion made the efforts mandatory.

— The Fair Elections Act, a controversial government bill which makes major changes to election laws, passed in May. The Conservatives were forced to water down the bill in response to overwhelming criticism of the proposed elimination of the practice of vouching and the potential that it could muzzle Canada's elections watchdog.

— The Conservative government had sought to drastically reform or even abolish the Senate, but when they put questions to the Supreme Court to see how much power they had to do so, the answer was not much. So the government has taken Senate abolition off the table.

— Green party Leader Elizabeth May has made electoral reform a condition of co-operation should her party find itself in the position of holding the balance of power in a minority Parliament. She is calling for a switch to proportional representation to replace the current first-past-the-post system of electing MPs.