I was fortunate enough to work closely with the PCRC, (...) during the 2010-15 Parliament. It carried out groundbreaking investigations into previously neglected areas, including a consideration of the possibility of a code for independent local government. Its inquiry into the idea of a written constitution for the United Kingdom was the first ever to be conducted.

Andrew Blick

On the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

It is without exaggeration that I write that I was quite saddened to learn today that my favourite UK House of Commons Select Committee, The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (PCRC) has been abolished. Yes, I am that much of a parliament geek that I had a favourite select committee. The PCRC was created at the start of the previous Parliament, in 2010, to scrutinize the work of the Deputy Minister Nick Clegg who was responsible for the coalition government’s rather ambitious constitutional reform agenda. The Committee did just that, and much more, as Andrew Blick reports, and there would have been a lot more good work to be done in this new Parliament. I thought that the decision to […]

So if FPTP isn't really the problem here in Canada, what is?How do we explain why two countries with very similar parliamentary systems and identical voting systems differ so much in how well their parliament functions and in their approach to government formation?

Everyone may love PR, but FPTP isn’t the problem

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson’s latest piece argues that Canada’s voting system, commonly referred to as First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) is increasingly inadequate for our multi-party political system. He points out how almost everyone else uses some form of proportional representation (PR), which forces parties to work together and form coalitions since PR rarely results in a single party winning enough seats to form a government on its own, and also provides more checks and balances on the head of government. Simpson writes: In contrast to many other systems, the Canadian provides very few checks and balances on a prime minister with a majority. The unelected Senate is a wet noodle; the government backbenchers are yes-men; the cabinet members are appointed […]

Bercowelection

On helping the Speaker clean up Question Period

The CBC’s parliamentary reporter, Kady O’Malley, has put forward a few suggestions on how to encourage the Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons to take on a more activist role during Question Period. Her first suggestion is that once elected Speaker, the Speaker should resign both caucus and party. Currently, the Speaker does resign from caucus, but he or she does not resign from their political party. While they do tend to stay away from purely political party events, Kady’s new rule would require that they go further, avoiding all partisan activity including attending party conferences and local federal funding announcements, which currently is not the case. In the UK, the Speaker of House of Commons resigns from his […]

SenateChamber

Balancing Canada’s constitution: a proposal for Senate reform (pt.2)

(The following is part 2 of a two-part post by guest blogger JD Mussel. You can read part 1 here. JD is a Dutch-Israeli undergraduate student at Leiden University College in the Hague, the Netherlands. He is majoring in policy science with a focus on constitutional design. He frequently contributes to the political science blog Fruits and Votes. JD’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this blog’s administrator.) Part 2: The specifics of Senate reform and their effects In my previous post I discussed the problems of majoritarianism and the resulting executive dominance in Canada’s system of government. In this post I will explore in detail my specific recommendations for reform, as well as the […]

SenateChamber

Balancing Canada’s constitution: a proposal for Senate reform (pt. 1)

(The following is part 1 of a two-part post by guest blogger JD Mussel. JD is a Dutch-Israeli undergraduate student at Leiden University College in the Hague, the Netherlands. He is majoring in policy science with a focus on constitutional design. He frequently contributes to the political science blog Fruits and Votes. JD’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this blog’s administrator.) Part 1: Curbing the excesses of majoritarianism Introduction Canada has a parliamentary form of government, using first-past-the post to elect the members of its confidence chamber, the House of Commons. Despite the recent period of minority governments from 2004 to 2011, minorities are the exception in Canada as elections usually result in a […]

On reforming PMQs

The UK’s Hansard Society released a report examining public attitudes to Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) and asking whether PMQs is a ‘cue’ for their wider negative perceptions of Parliament. Some of the key findings include: 67% of respondents agree that ‘there is too much party political point-scoring instead of answering the question’ – 5% disagree 47% agree that PMQs ‘is too noisy and aggressive’ – 15% disagree 33% agree ‘it puts me off politics’ – 27% disagree 20% agree that ‘it’s exciting to watch’ – 44% disagree 16% agree that ‘MPs behave professionally’ at PMQs – 48% disagree 12% agree that PMQs ‘makes me proud of our Parliament’ – 45% disagree Reaction to the report in the UK has been […]