Leef critical of fellow MP’s Reform Act

Conservative backbench MP Mike Chong's proposed so-called Reform Act bill is stirring quite the debate in Ottawa.

Conservative backbench MP Mike Chong’s proposed so-called Reform Act bill is stirring quite the debate in Ottawa.

If passed, the bill private members bill would rebalance the internal power of a political party, giving more weight to MPs and at the expense of the party executive. It also lays out tools for calling a leadership review and removing a party leader.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet have yet to comment formally about the bill, many MPs are already giving it a vigorous debate.

Yukon’s MP Ryan Leef said while he hasn’t had a chance to read the entire four-page document, he supports the spirit and intent of the bill. Some of the details, however, worry him.

“The preamble of the bill is actually an interesting statement and one that I don’t think anyone would disagree with,” Leef said.

“But I haven’t made any sort of concrete decision about whether it’s something I would support.”

Leef’s biggest beef is with the threshold of MPs needed to call a leadership review. The bill says if 15 per cent of a caucus group is unhappy with a party leader, they can call a review. That would then lead to a vote by the entire caucus, so the dissenting 15 per cent can’t actually force a leader out on their own, but even the perception of internal strife caused by a review could damage a party, Ryan said.

“I think that number is pretty small. That could mean that the Liberals could trigger a leadership review with just four of their MPs. In a 100-person caucus, it’s 15 people.”

Leef worried that such a small percentage of MPs could use a leadership review for personal gain, attempting to publicly wound a leader they are unhappy with even if they know an actual vote on their leadership isn’t likely to succeed.

“It’s not hard to imagine if 15 or 30 people who are emotionally invested in an issue. It runs the danger of small factions of a party forcing you into a review,” he said.

That said, Leef was clear that he isn’t discounting the bill outright. He just thinks there may be better, non-legislative ways to achieve the same ends.

“I see what he’s trying to drive at, but I think there may be some other ways that we can get this done. Some people think that the leadership choice and nomination of a candidate should be up to the voters to decide, not Elections Canada,” he said.

Another part of Chong’s proposal would see party leaders give up the signing authority over an election candidate’s nomination papers, allowing each party’s riding association to choose who runs.

“At the end of the day, the only people who will decide how the parties go about electing or nominating their candidates should be left up to the party,” Leef said.

Harper hasn’t said whether he will allow a free vote on Chong’s bill. Parliamentary tradition is for MPs to vote their conscience on private members bill, but it isn’t known yet whether that will be extended to Harper’s cabinet as well.

Leef said he will definitely vote his conscience on Chong’s bill after he has time to study it more carefully, and get feedback from his constituents in the Yukon.

Leef said he’s never experience any of the top-down pressure from his party leader that other MPs from all three parties have expressed concern over. He also pointed out that when it comes to party discipline, the Conservatives have had more free votes in recent years than either the Liberals or the NDP.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

A cyclist rides along the Millenium Trail in downtown Whitehorse on a frigid Feb. 9. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of an e-bike bylaw that would designate how e-bike riders can use city trails. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
First two readings passed on Whitehorse e-bike bylaw

Delegate calls on city to consider age restrictions and further regulations

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Most Read