Funny how sometimes an innocent conversation gets you thinking, and sometimes the thought doesn't go away, it builds over time. Which leads me to this particular blog post. I'm going to ignore what anyone else has as a platform, and talk about what I would do with my fantasy majority government.
Of course, getting elected by being honest with people would never work, so this will always remain a fantasy, but for fun I'll share.
Of course, first things first, I'd have to choose a cabinet. My process would be different. Normal conventions go in the toilet. Cabinet Ministers in my Government of Canada would not be chosen by power or party influence or location, they would be chosen by their understanding of the issues of their portfolio and their willingness to work for all Canadians, not their province/territory or region or ethnicity or anything else other than carrying out their duty to make this the best damned country in the world. From coast to coast to coast as they love to say. A minister serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, and under my administration fairness and competence are a must or you get assigned a different seat, on in the back, because everyone can be replaced.
Next order of business, a budget. Since I would not be the finance minister, I wouldn't presume to think I could detail this for you, only assure you there would be no sudden shock for the average Canadian, no big anti-business hit, and that my Government's budgets will aim to advance my agenda for change, including far more open information on actual spending, and finding sensible ways to live within our means and to include payments on our debt in every budget. There must be measures put in place where only extrordinary measures could trigger deficit spending. More accountability for tax dollars is an absolute must.
Now we have to get down to a legislative agenda. MP's can expect to be working a lot more. As one who firmly believes if you're going to lead, you do it by example. So long recesses would be an exception rather than a rule, there's a country to improve. Number one on my agenda is clarity on how every penny of your money is spent. I don't think any Canadian would object to setting up an agency that provides them the ability to go online and see every payment released from every Government account, to be able to see scanned images of every invoice, to know how their tax dollars are being spent so they are able to make an informed judgement on how their tax dollars are being spent. As a starting point, I think it's a good one. It forces people to be more careful when they know someone can immediately see they just bought 150 golf balls or 60 bottles of pricey Champagne. I'm not saying there aren't times those may be good investments, but if people can see it you'd best be able to justify it. It also opens opportunities for smart businesses. If I can go online and see an opportunity to supply the Government with a product or service at a lower price and still make money, the law would ensure their case gets a hearing. This is the 21st Century, so let's move into it.
My agenda is reform of a system that has served us so poorly for so long. What once worked well (maybe) no longer is sensible in this day and age. Government has to change so Canadians have the kind of faith in their institutions required to open their minds to change.
All my life I've listened to politicians say they have to have all the pay and perks and platinum pensions and on and on and on and to that I say "Up Yours". I don't know many starving politicians, especially former PM's, Premiers, Cabinet Ministers, Opposition Leaders and critics, these people have many new doors opened to them through their political careers. Most of them make far more money after they leave office than they could ever have made prior to it.
Your job in parliament is about to become just that, a job. Since you are paid a salary, if you work extra hours, too bad. Yes, you'll have a fair amount of sick days but, like any other Canadian, if you miss too much time it will have to be taken from your pay. You'll also have a fairly generous vacation allotment, it's a difficult and stressful job, but if you aren't using that vacation time and the house is not sitting you are required to be in your constituency office 8 hours a day or attending a public function where you can account for your time, or take more unpaid time and explain it to the voters. It's about work ethic. It's about real public service. About setting the example. Just like every other Canadian who gets up and goes to work.
Now we're going to set an example when it comes to pay and perks and money fountains of all kinds that can be eliminated or have the funds redirected to things that actually help Canadian people and business to flourish. Since I like personal accountability, MP's, Ministers and the PM will have their level of compensation tied to the average wage in Canada. The average + a set percentage, so you have an incentive to find ways to improve the standard of living and you pay if you're irresponsible. If the economy goes bad and everyone hurts, you do too.
When we get to the pension thing, over baby. MP's will recieve an annual contribution to the RRSP of their choice and when they go it goes along with them. I wish them well, they're better off than many.
I also wouldn't be taking a knife to perks and personal budgets, rather I have a chain saw and know how to use it. Get used to working like most other people. Drive your own car to work. If you use a government vehicle it will be comfortable but economical, no chauffeur but I promise a GPS so you can find your way. No one subsidizes a working Canadian's daily lunch, and you'll be paying full price for your own too. You won't fly if you can use a train, you won't use a train if you can drive, just like Joe Blow who voted you in. Just think of me as the guy who made the country club a little more like the sweat shop for politicians. You'll be surprised how much you can accomplish by showing up to work and not tripping over too many servants. If there is an occasion a limo is required, very few will be available to anyone, so it better be an important requirement.
Since parliament is a workplace, Question Period will revert to Question Period. Where questions are asked and answers to the questions are given, or deferred for more information with a specified period of time to provide said answer. No more disorderly conduct, hollering, thumping of desks, etc as that will get you removed from the house for a time out as it were. Running the country is a business and it's about time we got down to it.
MP's will be tasked with consulting extensively with Canadians on what their spending priorities are. Finding acceptable ways to stop spending frivilously and either save the money, redirect it, or a little of both. Let's not go off in a direction without determining priorities first, then finding ways to improve our health services, to prioritize continuing education so our youth have opportunity to grow, not to be buried in debt. We need to foster an atmosphere of hard work and results that improve the lives of all of our people. To concentrate on the things that unite us as Canadians, so we can work to find a fair concensus on things that divide us.
That's how I would start. From the top. Of course I'd need to make the blog a zillion miles long to expound on all of my policy ideas but, this is a pretty good start.
As always, I value your comments and suggestions for topics you might like to hear more of my views on. Thanks for visiting, come back often!!
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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy
Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture