A legislature of eunuchs.

Listening to voters and to people at Queen’s Park, there seems to be a general opinion that there should be a sign from Dante’s Inferno over the legislature entrance “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” All power and importance are vested in the premier and less and less is shared, even with cabinet members.

No less authority than Dave Levac, the retiring speaker of the Ontario legislature, has been bemoaning the loss of personal power for members of the legislative assembly. He seems to see the various members of the parties as nebbishes who only act on cue from their leaders. He sees the discipline of the party leaders as all-controlling.

Maybe lazy and uninterested voters are smarter than the rest of us. When, if they go to the polls, they vote for a follower of their preferred leader. It is now a rare voter who looks into the qualifications of their local candidates. They hardly think it matters.

And we have yet to see any concrete solutions to the problem. It is the political parties themselves who are largely to blame but there has been little understanding of the issues facing them.

And there is unlikely to be a “Mr. Smith goes to Queen’s Park.” Back benchers do what they are told. Cabinet members are the ones who can front most glibly for their leader. The news media pander to the party leaders and ignore the castratos of the back bench.

Question period in the legislature is but a three-act play put on by the three political parties. It is planned and cued, and woe awaits the careless member who shouts the wrong insult at the wrong time.

To be sent to Coventry by the party leader is hell. No committee memberships (with their extra pay), no extra travel benefits or fact-finding missions in Tahiti.

But suck it up buster, show your eagerness to serve the leader and the world is your oyster. Even opposition MPPs can latch on to some of the better trips and extra remuneration for committees.

And as Dave Levac points out, it would be so nice if MPPs could just do their job. If they could just think of the needs of their constituents. And if they could just ask questions for their constituents occasionally.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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