MP Wilks explains his vote against Bill C-586

A bill meant to rein in authority of party leaders and give individual Members of Parliament more power passed second reading last week.

A bill meant to rein in authority of party leaders and give individual Members of Parliament more power passed second reading last week.

The Reform Act, Bill C-586, was brought forward by Conservative MP Michael Chong.

The bill passed second reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 253 to 17. It will now go to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee where it could see changes.

Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks was one of the 17 MPs who voted against the bill.

In an interview with the Townsman, Wilks said he doesn’t have a problem with most of the act, but disagrees with one central point about the power to vote out the party leader with nothing more than majority of the caucus.

“If at a national convention you have 3,000-5,000 people show up and they vote for a leader and let’s just say they vote for [name] and [name] becomes the leader and then four months later at a caucus meeting 20 per cent of the caucus decide ‘we don’t like [name], he’s not really what we thought he would be.’”

Wilks said that means that 20 per cent of the caucus could force a vote on the majority of caucus, then if 51 per cent of caucus voted to get rid of the leader, he’s gone.

“So best case scenario, 51 per cent would be 100 members if you had a majority,” he said. “So 100 people are going to be able to change what 3,000-5,000 people who bought memberships to vote for the leader of the party.”

Those people would then have been overruled he said.

“The rest of it I’m relatively okay with. I just don’t think that it’s right that potentially 100 people could over throw what 3,000 to 5,000 people voted for at a national convention.”

Wilks said in his opinion there is no way to smooth out the act.

“Not at this point, because it’s gone to committee,” he said. “Now committee could make amendments. I don’t know if they will or not. If they don’t then it’s a fait accompli and it is what it is when it comes back to the House of Commons.”

Wilks doesn’t sit on procedural house affairs, so he said he doesn’t know what the committee will do.

“I just think if the people speak they’ve spoken for [the leader],” he said. “It’s not up to me to decide that they don’t like the choice.”