OTTAWA – New Democrat MP Bruce Hyer tabled a motion today to increase cross-party cooperation on legislation in the House of Commons. Currently, private legislation can only be introduced by individual MPs, and thus bills are often branded an initiative of the MP’s party. Hyer’s motion would change the rules of the House, known as the Standing Orders, to allow MPs from more than one party to co-sponsor Private Members’ Bills and Motions.
“Parliament is getting more and more partisan, more and more dysfunctional.” said Hyer. “The tribal bickering and political games have a real cost – it’s hard to build support for good bills or motions when other parties are reluctant to see a MP from another party achieve success. Solutions often get delayed, or killed.”
Hyer’s own Bill C-311, the country’s only federal climate legislation, was killed last week in a bout of Parliamentary partisanship. Hyer spent two years manoeuvring the bill through Parliament, and no amendments to the bill were proposed by any party. The government chose to kill the bill on a surprise vote rather than debate or improve it in the Senate. As a result, Canada now has no law on the books or bill before Parliament to reduce the country’s growing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Canadians don’t send us here to just to defeat each other’s initiatives, they want us to make progress, to get things done.” said Hyer “We need to be debating ideas, not ideology. If bills and motions were shared initiatives of MPs from more than one party, MPs could co-operate across party lines to build consensus even before initiatives are tabled. Private legislation would hit the ground running and have a better chance at passage. Politics would be less of a zero-sum game.”
“Parliament needs to work better to serve the needs of Canadians.” said Hyer “I put extra effort into working with MPs from all parties to improve the lives of Canadians, but we’re now spending years re-introducing and re-debating legislation that’s already been before the House, and making little progress. It takes well over two years, on average, to pass private member’s bills into law, but in modern times we seem to have an election every two years that wipes all progress out. We need to change the system to give important initiatives a fighting chance.”