Election 2021

How can an independent MP get anything done?

I received the following question from a voter:

I love the idea of independent candidates, and I really love that you’re running specifically; however, if you do get elected, how can you have a voice in Ottawa as an independent?

I’m legitimately curious how an independent candidate could get anything accomplished without the backing of a party. I hate party systems, but it’s what we’ve got to deal with, right?

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This question assumes that the purpose of members of Parliament is to implement broad policy for the country as a whole. While creating national policy is one responsibility of Parliament, the primary responsibility of an MP is to represent their riding on a national scale.

All MPs receive opportunities to speak in the House of Commons. As an MP, I can use those opportunities to advocate on behalf of Lethbridge.

For example, Lethbridge has the least affordable housing in Alberta. I could use question period to ask the minister of families, children and social development what he plans to do to increase the amount of social housing in Canada generally, but Lethbridge specifically.

And that local advocacy won’t be hindered by the interference of a party whip, forcing me to vote with the party on issues, even if those issues aren’t the best interest of my community.

I can also reach out privately to individual ministers regarding Lethbridge-specific needs, to discuss the challenges that my riding faces and what solutions the federal government can implement.

As well, I can try to work with other MPs as they develop bills that I think can benefit Lethbridge, and when policies, programmes, or initiatives come forward to the House that I think can benefit Lethbridge, I can vote in favour of them.

Finally, especially under a minority government, the vote of an independent MP has as much weight as the vote of any other single MP in the House of Commons.

There may be other ways that I can best represent Lethbridge nationally that I haven’t considered yet.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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