On June 23, the Reform Act, 2014 was granted Royal Assent by Governor General David Johnston, after it passed the Senate of Canada on June 22, 38-14.
It will now come into force later this year, on Oct. 26.
Eighteen months after the Reform Act was introduced in the House of Commons, it is now the law of the land. The road to its passage was hard-won and the bill was subject to much scrutiny and debate.
The bill was amended to gain support from MPs in the various parties in the House of Commons. As a result, the Reform Act was passed with support from all recognized parties in the House of Commons, 260-17.
Ultimately, the bill passed for one reason: Tens of thousands of Canadians, including many in Wellington County and Halton Hills, spoke up and voiced their support for the bill to MPs, who responded by voting for it.
Thank you for your support. Without it, the Reform Act would never have become law.
The hard-fought battle to get the bill passed demonstrates that the changes in the Reform Act are significant. And the multi-party support for the bill demonstrates it is possible to set aside partisan differences, reach across the aisle and work across party lines to advance issues in the public interest.
The Reform Act will reinforce the principle of responsible government in the House of Commons, making the executive more accountable to the legislature and ensure that party leaders, including the prime minister, are more accountable to party caucuses.
The Reform Act will remove the statutory requirement, in place since 1970, that mandates that leaders approve party candidates. It will allow MPs to decide whether the leader or caucus can expel MPs from caucus and how the caucus chair is selected.
It will allow MPs to choose an interim leader, in the event of the leader’s removal, sudden resignation, incapacity or death.
Finally, it will allow MPs to formalize the rules to review and remove party leaders, thereby enhancing the democratic accountability party leaders have to elected MPs in party caucuses.
The passage of the Reform Act is a victory for Canadian democracy. It demonstrates that Parliament, while very old and sometimes archaic, is capable of reform and renewal.
It is my hope that the passage of the Reform Act is the beginning of further reforms of Parliament to strengthen our democracy and prepare it for the challenges Canada faces in the 21st century.
*Due to this fall’s pending federal election, this will be the last MP column run in the Advertiser until after the election.