MP proposes recall bill
Wednesday, Jun 24, 2015 06:00 am
St. Albert MP Brent Rathgeber wants voters to be able to evict their elected representatives from the House of Commons.
Rathgeber introduced another private member’s act last week. This one is a bill that would establish how voters could recall Members of Parliament.
“This bill will not get debated,” Rathgeber said, noting the House of Commons rose last week and might not sit again before the fall election.
But he’s introduced the bill anyway to try and get people talking, he said.
“People are interested in it. Some people are adamantly opposed,” he said.
The bill would not allow voters to recall their MPs willy-nilly. As Rathgeber has it currently drafted, a recall petition would have to be signed by 25 per cent of voters from the MP’s riding. Those signing the petition would have to reside in the constituency and have been eligible to vote there in the last election.
The independent MP figures that is a decent threshold to reach given less than two-thirds of voters usually cast ballots in a federal election.
That said, he’s not “married” to the 25 per cent either.
Bill C-697 also sets out that a recall petition can’t be issued within the first year of the MP’s election or within the year preceding the next fixed election debate. Rathgeber doesn’t want to see close elections refought on the taxpayer’s dime or the country having to pay to host a byelection the same year as a general election.
That means under the proposed legislation angry voters only have a shot at recalling their MP during the second and third years of a four-year term.
Rathgeber’s draft also takes steps to limit the number of times a petition can be launched.
“There’s only one kick at the can,” he said.
The proposed bill doesn’t give a list of reasons why voters can recall their MPs. He prefers to leave it to voters to decide why they want to recall their MP, be it scandal, criminal charges, floor crossings or something else entirely.
This is the fifth private member’s bill Rathgeber has introduced in a year and his second in just a few weeks. He said now that he’s not caught up with the “busy work” of being a government caucus member, he can spend more time on efforts like crafting bills.
Asked if tabling a bill that has no hope of passing before the expected election is just part of campaigning, Rathgeber said it is a part of his campaign – but the government is doing the same thing, he said.
“I prefer that I am putting my ideas out there,” he said. “These are initiatives I will work on should I be elected Oct. 19.”