Thank you for inviting me here today to talk about Bill , the reform act 2014.
Mr. Chair, I believe this bill would strengthen the foundation on which our democratic institutions in Canada were founded, that foundation being responsible government. The ideas on which this bill are based are not my ideas. They are not new ideas; they are very old ideas, very Canadian ideas. This bill is based on the ideas of people like Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine—a monument to whom is standing behind us here in Centre Block—that establish the principles on which modern Canadian political institutions are based, ideas that have laid the foundation for modern Canada.
Dear colleagues, it has become clear that decades of changes to the House of Commons and the way we elect MPs have weakened the role of MPs in favour of party leadership structures. As a result, there is a growing divide between Canadians who want their MPs to have a bigger say and a House of Commons where power is concentrated in the leadership structure.
The reform act puts forward three simple reforms to strengthen the House of Commons by proposing to restore local control over party nominations, strengthen caucus as a decision-making body, and re-enforce accountability of party leaders to caucus. These three simple reforms will empower MPs and give them the tools that they need to better represent Canadians in Ottawa.
When the original bill, Bill , the reform act 2013, was introduced last December I welcomed suggestions on how to improve the bill. Based on the suggestions received in the months following the bill's introduction, I introduced a second bill, reform act 2014, on April 7. Since April I have consulted extensively with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. As a result, on September 11, I proposed further changes to the reform act 2014 in order to gain sufficient support at second reading. At the time, I called on this committee to adopt these changes if the bill were adopted at second reading. On September 24 the House of Commons adopted this bill and sent it to this committee, which brings us to today.
Mr. Chair, I have prepared for committee members a package that outlines the changes in the form of four amendments and a series of negatived clauses.
I ask that you consider and adopt these amendments and negative certain clauses in order to secure passage of the bill at third reading.
Since the introduction of the reform act, I've received an incredible amount of feedback and support from members of Parliament, academics, stakeholders, and Canadians from across the country.
I ask the committee to support this bill and the proposed changes and to deal with this bill as expeditiously as possible. Time is short and we are up against the hard deadline of the dissolution of Parliament and a general election. I look forward to answering any questions that you may have.
Thank you very much for having me. Merci.