Brad Trost Maverick Watch

A proposal to change the way committee chairs are elected
Brad Trost, Conservative party candidate for Saskatoon-Humboldt, looks on at a candidate’s forum at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, on Thursday, April 21, 2011. Trost told an anti-abortion group on the weekend that International Planned Parenthood Federation has been denied Canadian funding because it supports abortion, stirring up some controversy on the federal election campaign. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

The Conservative MP mused last fall about giving more power to backbenchers and this week he tabled a motion to study the possibility of electing committee chairs through a vote of the House.

M-431 — February 27, 2013 — Mr. Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt) — That the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be instructed to: (a) consider the election of committee chairs by means of a preferential ballot system by all the Members of the House of Commons, at the beginning of each session and prior to the establishment of the membership of the standing committees; (b) study the practices of other Westminster-style Parliaments in relation to the election of Committee Chairs; (c) propose any necessary modifications to the Standing Orders and practices of the House; and (d) report its findings to the House no later than six months following the adoption of this order.

In 2002, the House adopted secret ballot votes at committees to elect chairs. But in 2006, the Prime Minister put forward his preferred nominees for those posts. In 2007, there was the leak of a manual provided to Conservative committee chairs. Committee membership, meanwhile, is decided by the parties.

In theory, at least from where I sit, giving the House the authority to elect committee chairs would give power to the legislature and bestow a certain amount of independence on those committee chairs.

Here is a useful look at how the committee system here compares to the recently reformed British system.