Democracy, euthanasia and a basic income supplement

Liberal Party members adopt 32 policy resolutions
Justin Trudeau in Toronto March 27, 2013 to visit the Green Zone at Ryerson University and speak at the Empire Cllub at the Royal York. Peter Bregg

Liberal party members adopted 32 policy resolutions yesterday morning before the convention closed.

A few points of potential interest.

First, via the Liberal caucus, an agenda for democratic and parliamentary reform.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Liberal Party pursue political reforms which promote:

-Open, democratic nominations of candidates;
-Fewer “whipped” votes in Parliament and more “free” votes requiring individual MPs to assume full responsibility for their decisions;
-Stronger Parliamentary control over public finances, including an annual deadline for the budget; accounting consistency among the Estimates and the Public Accounts; more clarity in voting on Estimates; a costing analysis for each government Bill; and a requirement that government borrowing plans must get Parliament’s pre-approval;
-A truly independent, properly resourced Parliamentary Budget Officer;
-A more effective Access-to-Information regime with stronger safeguards against political interference;
-An impartial system to identify and eliminate the waste of tax-dollars on partisan advertising;
-Careful limitations on secret Committee proceedings, Omnibus Bills and Prorogation to avoid their misuse for the short-term partisan convenience of the government;
-Adequate funding, investigative powers and enforcement authority to ensure Elections Canada can root out electoral fraud;
-Pro-active disclosure of parliamentarians’ expenses, a more transparent Board of Internal Economy and better audit rules;
-A truly independent Senate not based upon partisanship or patronage;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, an all-Party process be instituted, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with recommendations for electoral reforms including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent Canadians more fairly and serve Canada better.

That’s a fairly robust to-do list, though it doesn’t embrace Question Period reform or Michael Chong’s Reform Act and doesn’t suggest committee reform. A study was conducted during the 38th Parliament as to how Parliament might go about studying parliamentary reform (it came to nothing after that parliament was dissolved).

On social and fiscal policy, the Liberals adopted two resolutions on a basic income supplement: one calling for design and implementation of such a policy, the other calling for a pilot to test the program. Here is a short guide to the basic idea and the pilot proposal.

Meanwhile, after Justin Trudeau acknowledged the resolution in his speech, Liberals endorsed a proposal to decriminalize “medically-assisted death.” When the late Francine Lalonde put a private member’s bill on euthanasia before the House of Commons in 2010, the vast majority of Liberals MPs voted against it, but the Liberal justice critic argued that “a private member’s bill is not the right vehicle to engage the public debate that this issue deserves.”