I carried the opposition MP’s mentality into journalism. Over the years, my opinions have been more critical than approving of whatever government has been in power … The arrogance of government, its overwhelming control of Parliament, and the opposition’s weakness were a big theme during my four parliaments as an MP—much discussed on the Hill and in the press. I carried that theme with me to the press gallery and have often written about it.
After nearly 50 years, I can only say that government has become immense, the prime minister’s office is vastly bigger and more powerful, more attention than ever is paid to party leaders and in particular to the prime minister, and the House of Commons—whose weakness we bemoaned back in my time in it—has withered almost to insignificance…
Today’s MPs are easily as able and hard-working as during the Diefenbaker years — as well as better educated and provided with far better facilities and support services. Paradoxically, they play a far smaller, less important role than MPs of yore, undermined over the years by a hardening of caucus discipline and by the swelling cadres of aides and spin doctors in the offices of the prime minister and the other parties’ leaders.