NDP critic Craig Scott on the Reform Act

Michael Chong’s bill returns to the floor of the House

<p>NDP candidate for Toronto-Danforth Craig Scott casts his vote at a polling station in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Pawel Dwulit</p>

Pawel Dwulit/CP

Michael Chong’s Reform Act will have its second hour of debate on Thursday evening. The folks at Samara are hosting a viewing party in Toronto, which I imagine is the world’s first parliamentary reform-themed kegger, and we’ll have coverage here at Macleans.ca.

As with the first hour of debate in May—private members’ bills receive two one-hour sessions of debate at second reading—we’ll possibly get a better idea of where everyone stands, perhaps even some indication of where the cabinet, still undecided as of last week, has come down.

NDP democratic reform critic Craig Scott already spoke about the bill during the first hour, but, via email, he tells me he’ll be recommending the bill be adopted with Chong’s proposed changes. Here’s his full statement:

While less forceful than versions 1 and 2, I believe this version 3 (assuming his amendments are accepted in committee) still has value by creating a periodic democratic pressure on parties to make public (and justify) whatever internal governance rules it operates with. Think of it as a spotlighting for accountability, which can have an impact if parties know that civil society will react unfavourably to a given approach. For example, how can the Conservatives continue to have their national caucus chair appointed by the party leader? At the same time, on this point, the NDP already goes well beyond Chong’s model rule,‎ because we do it every year, plus we require a deputy chair with the added gender-equality rule that either the chair or deputy chair must be a female MP.