Michael Chong urges MPs to 'reclaim their influence' as Reform Act takes effect
Picking leaders, expelling MPs: each party caucus will vote at 1st meeting on what powers MPs should have
Re-elected Conservative MP Michael Chong is urging all 338 elected members of Parliament to vote in favour of strengthening their roles as his Reform Act comes into effect today.
"I urge my fellow MPs to vote for the Act's model rules which will empower them to represent their constituents' interests in Ottawa," said Chong.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for MPs to reclaim their influence in caucus, and by extension, in Parliament."
- Conservatives to elect interim leader on Nov. 5
- Manitoba's Candice Bergen joins Conservative interim leadership contest
- Erin O'Toole, ex-Veterans Affair minister, to seek Conservative interim leadership
- John Baird, ex-Harper cabinet minister, won't run for Conservative leadership
The Act requires MPs to vote as a caucus on whether they will have a say in four specific, party matters, namely:
- The review and removal of the party leader.
- The election and review of the caucus chair.
- The expulsion and re-admission of caucus members.
- The election of the interim leader.
The results will apply to their party for the duration of this Parliament.
"These four votes will determine which powers the party leader will have and which powers MPs will have," said Chong.
The controversial private member's bill nearly died on the order paper during the last session of Parliament, but eventually cleared the Senate after the House of Commons was adjourned and received Royal Assent.
Chong was elected in the new Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills following last Monday's election, which saw the Liberals form a majority government and the Conservatives demoted to opposition status.
1st meeting next week
Conservatives will choose an interim leader when the caucus meets in Ottawa on Nov. 5, a day after prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau announces his cabinet.
New and returning Conservative MPs will cast a ballot to elect a temporary caretaker until a permanent leader is chosen. Defeated candidates have been invited to next week's meeting to vent, but will not vote.
Whether senators have a say on who leads the Tories in the interim will depend on how MPs vote.
"If a majority of Conservative MPs vote for the fourth model rule, which concerns the election of the interim leader," said Chong, "then only Conservative MPs would vote, by secret ballot, for the interim leader."
- Interim leadership candidate Diane Finley on The House: 'Softer image may not hurt'
- Wellington-Halton Hills riding: Conservative Michael Chong re-elected
- Michael Chong's Reform Act passes in the Senate
The new Act stipulates that votes will take place at the first meeting of House of Commons caucuses after the general election and will be reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
In an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House, Chong said that voter fatigue was at play during the election campaign.
"The Conservatives under the leadership of Stephen Harper had been in power for almost ten years, and I think there was a sense that it was time to change government."
The Conservative Party has already started a complete review of the 78-day election campaign as it moves to select an interim leader and start the process of electing a new permanent one.