I suppose I couldn't have hoped for any better. Obviously, the NDP was going to defend its newly elected MPs. I don't even say they're wrong for doing so; they could hardly throw them under the bus, and I wouldn't want that to happen to the individuals affected. But my overwhelming feeling towards the New Democratic Party right now is one of disappointment and chagrin.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Just to be clear: I'm not trying to insult "rookie MPs" of any party stripe. My problem isn't with these individuals in particular. I'm sure they are upstanding citizens and many will, and I'm talking more about the younger cohort, in time become outstanding members of our community and national life. But the House of Commons, the nation's legislative organ, is not a training ground. It's not a preparatory academy. It is, or should be, the big time. I want to be able to look up to the House, and be proud of the talent and wisdom and virtue of our representatives. I hope I'm not alone in that. Being an MP should require more qualifications than working at the GAP. If we can't change the electoral system, let's endeavour in future elections to scrutinize every candidate in every riding, not on policy or ideology, necessarily, but on experience, character, competence, and so on, just as in a job interview. If you really want to restore trust in our democratic institutions, we need to instill respect for quality and merit in governance.
The postmortem of the 41st Canadian General Election includes much commentary on the inexperience of many of the MPs elected in Quebec. As most observers agree, their election is almost entirely due to Jack Layton's efforts; these were unknowns, 'placeholders', many of whom did not put much effort, if any, into campaigning. Unless some of these new representatives of the Canadian people are Pitt the Younger-like, I think it's fair to assume that these new MPs will have largely undistinguished parliamentary careers. The NDP leader's comments suggest at least two things: