When you walk alone and stand in your truth you can suddenly feel like the cow in the attached picture. Some will look at the picture and figure she is simply crazy and hard to get along with while others might see her as an independent thinker and not inclined to follow the herd.
Roman Baber, Ontario Conservative MPP (MLA) knew what would happen this morning when he released a letter he sent to his Party’s leader, Premier Doug Ford. The letter outlined facts regarding lock downs and how they are causing worse situations than the actual disease. He was quickly booted out of the Conservative caucus in a predictable dictatorial fashion by Ford who previously booted another critical thinker in his caucus this past July, Belinda Karahalios. They join the Randy Hillier as independents in the Ontario legislature and independent is a good adjective to describe all three of them. They think for themselves.
Canada follows the British Parliamentary system and the recent expulsion of Babar for simply speaking freely is a reminder that it is a tired and flawed system that we need to fix.
The British system started with the Magna Carta in 1215 which established the rights of wealthy landowners (barons) to serve as advisers to the Monarchy. This became the present-day House of Lords in Britain known as the Senate in Canada. A non-elected, politically appointed body that oversees and approves bills made by the House of Commons.
The House of Commons is known as the lower house and wasn’t formed until 1254 when elected representatives of the “common people” where allowed representation. Back then, both Houses, Lords and Commons would send recommendations to the King or Queen to be enacted into law. They were all “independent” and free to speak as they desired. In fact, in 1523 Sir Thomas More fought for freedom of speech to be even broader for legislators. It wasn’t until 1678 ’ish that the Party system started to emerge and the party with the most seats formed government, while the other part became the opposition.
The governing party would form a cabinet and along with caucus would pass their desired laws onto the House of Lords who upon review and approval would send the law to the Monarch for royal ascent. It wasn’t until 1714 that the House of Commons started having a “prime minister” because the new King, King George I, couldn’t speak English. Thus, he created a Prime Minister to chair the cabinet on his behalf. Essentially, he created the position once held by the King.
Over the past many years, we have witnessed the diminishing role of the elected member in government as the power lies in the hands of the Prime Minister or Premier and a few of their closest cabinet ministers and inner circle. Justin Trudeau is well known to have Gerald Butts and Katie Telford along with Chrystia Freeland. Stephen Harper was aloof and I understand that he ran a tight ship as well. Ford and other Premiers are believed to run things from the top as well with little input from caucus.
The British system is well past its “best before date” and high time we respect the opinions of all elected officials. Elected positions are employees of the voters and we should welcome diversity of thought and be able to speak openly on behalf of their electorate. And if the electorate doesn't like what they heard last term they can vote them out. The US system works like that. People running for office can run as independents but generally run under the banner of Republican or Democrat, but they run their own campaigns and are able to openly share their own ideas and speak to them.
The Canadian system as it is today essentially gives the governing party, as long as they form a majority, to operate like a dictatorship for up to 5 years. That in itself is cause for concern as there is really no checks and balances to stop them. An equal and elected Senate such as the USA has would be a nice addition to start but let’s take it further. The Canadian system is called a democracy while the US system is a democratic republic. A republic is defined as the power being by the people, for the people through their elected representatives. We have created a system where backbench MPs or MLAs, and even second tier cabinet ministers in the governing party have no say in policies. And they are “whipped” into submissive behaviour by the party enforcer to make sure party discipline is maintained.
So when a person like myself sees an elected official stand up and speak “their truth”, whether I agree with them or not, I loudly applaud them for their courage. Raybould and Philpott both paid the price by speaking out against corruption in the Trudeau government but won over the hearts and gained the respect of many, but mostly they had enough respect fro themselves and the truth to take a stand. Now Doug Ford has expelled two of his members for trying to bring some sanity to these egregious lockdowns.
We all have our hill to die on and people like Baber give us all hope that there are other MPs and MLAs in this country ready to stand for their truth. It is liberating to have your voice be heard. And much like the stray cow in the picture they stand out, not for personal glory, but for what is right. They have a choice, it certainly is easier socially to walk a straight line with the rest of the herd, but at what cost?
Yours in love of this great province we call Saskatchewan,