[Democracy Watch Logo] [Op-ed]

Federal Conservatives broke their promise to make nomination races democratic, but opposition parties and MPs also to blame for control by party leaders of MPs

Set out below is a letter-to-the-editor by Democracy Watch Coordinator Duff Conacher which was published in shorter, edited form in the February 17, 2010 issue of the National Post and the February 22, 2010 issue of the Hill Times

During the 2006 federal election campaign, the Conservatives promised that if elected they would change federal law to "Ensure that party nomination and leadership races are conducted in a fair, transparent, and democratic manner" and "Prevent party leaders from appointing candidates without the democratic consent of local electoral district associations."

The Conservatives broke these promises, as their protection of MP Rob Anders from facing a nomination race in his Calgary riding shows clearly, as well as half of their other democratic reform and good government promises.

Unfortunately, in the current minority government situation, opposition party leaders have also shown no interest in changing the rules for nomination races, likely because they want to continue to control their MPs in similar ways.

Until all federal election candidates are selected democratically, MPs will not have the independence needed to fulfill their proper role of representing voters and holding their party leaders, Cabinet ministers and the government accountable.

MPs share the blame for their own neutering, however, as a majority of them could easily work together and pass a bill making the changes the Conservatives promised in 2006.

So, federal MPs, will you throw off your chains?  You have nothing to lose and you and Canada's democracy have much to gain.

For more details, go to Democracy Watch's Voter Rights Campaign