June 22, 2015

Eighteen months after the Reform Act was introduced in the House of Commons, it passed the Senate of Canada, 38 to 14, and will now become law. The Reform Act will come into force seven days after the next general election.

The road to success was long and hard. The Reform Act was introduced in December 2013 to a wide range of support and critiques. After receiving much feedback from colleagues and Canadians, a second version of the bill was introduced in April 2014. Further amendments were made to this second version while the bill was in committee, incorporating suggestions made by MPs from the various parties in the House of Commons. Few private members’ bills have been subjected to as much scrutiny and debate as the Reform Act. However, the multiparty support garnered by the bill proves that parliament can enact serious and significant reform of how it does the people’s business.

The Reform Act will reinforce the principle of responsible government in the House of Commons, making the executive more accountable to the legislature and ensure that party leaders, including the Prime Minister, are more accountable to party caucuses. The Reform Act will remove the statutory requirement, in place since 1970, which mandates that leaders approve party candidates. It will allow MPs to decide whether the leader or caucus could expel MPs from caucus and how the caucus chair is selected. It will allow MPs to choose an interim leader, in the event of the leader’s sudden resignation, incapacity or death. Finally, it will allow MPs to formalize the rules to review and remove party leaders, thereby enhancing the democratic accountability and oversight of party caucuses and, by extension, party leaders. During the next election, I encourage Canadians to ask their candidates if they plan to vote for these measures that will empower MPs to represent the interests of their constituents.

Finally, I would like to thank my colleagues in the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada who supported the bill. I would also like to thank the academics and public policy experts who provided me with advice and counsel throughout this process. In addition, I would like to thank the organization, Friends of the Reform Act, for their hard work ensuring that members of the public were up-to-date with the bill and mobilizing them to share their support.    

Most importantly, I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who contacted their local MP and Senators to voice their support for the bill. Without their support, this bill would never have become law.