This past week in Canada, the budget vote went through. Bill C-38 was an omnibus bill, over 400 pages long, that included many issues that really don't traditionally belong in a budget. One of the major changes is a sweeping reduction in environmental reviews for major industrial projects. Everyone in Canada, the governing Conservatives included, knows that this strategy was a way of getting unpopular legislation through all at once in a bill that pretty much has to pass. If it doesn't, then the government falls and the country goes to an election. But, the only way the legislation would not pass was if at least 10 conservative members of parliament (MPs) voted against their party, and that is not going to happen because then those very MPs would risk losing their seat in a forthcoming election. I'd be willing to bet money that there were some Conservative MPs who did not agree with everything in the bill, and who would have voted against certain issues had they been able to in separetly debated bills passing through the House of Commons, as is the norm. But, the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is a very shrewd and ruthless politician. He recognized the opportunity to ram through a bunch of legislation at once, force his party to vote for it, and get what he wanted a whole lot quicker and with less fuss (i.e. informed debate) than usually occurs.
So, the question is, why do we even have MPs? I mean, my Member of Parliament is a Conservative, and he voted in favour of the budget bill at every vote. I knew he was going to do so, he knew he was going to do so, and his party knew he was going to do so, no matter what debate occured in the House of Commons during the process. Isn't an MP supposed to listen to the debate and then vote accordingly? Wasn't there even one issue in there that my MP felt wasn't the greatest for his constituents? Doesn't matter. He was instructed to vote with his party and did so. So, why do I have a Member of Parliament representing me? Why not, in the next federal election, just vote for different coloured pieces of paper that represent each of the political parties in Canada? Then, the party that wins the most coloured pieces of paper can form the government and each piece of paper can sit on a seat in the House of Commons and be assumed to vote in favour of that party at every single vote. It would save a lot of time. It would save a massive amount of money in salaries, benefits, perks, and pensions. And, we'd end up with the same result: a system of government that does not serve the constituents at all, but buys votes once every 4 years with empty promises of "jobs" for peopel who already have jobs, and then does whatever they want (read: raises taxes and spending) for the next four years.