Monday, March 29, 2010

Playing Hooky to Play Hockey

According to a recent 'tweet' from Patrick Brown, the Barrie MP took part in a charity hockey game in Ottawa on the 24th of March:

# played in ALS charity hockey game in Ottawa tonight organized by MP Gord Brown and MP Paul Dewer. it was ottawa police vs mps from all sides 5:32 PM Mar 24th via mobile web


At the same time, the House of Commons Government Operations committee was meeting to study the government's economic stimulus package. Although Patrick Brown is a member of the Government Operations committee, he apparently chose to play hockey rather than attending the meeting.

Barrie residents may recall that when hundreds of his constituents rallied in downtown Barrie on January 23rd to voice their displeasure over Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament, Patrick Brown chose to be at a charity hockey game in Peterborough.

When the House of Commons Health committee met to discuss government preparations for the upcoming flu season on August 12, 2009, Patrick Brown, who is a member of that committee, did not attend. The 2009 'Hockey Night in Barrie' fund-raiser was held the following day.

There's nothing wrong with playing hockey. I'm sure that most of us would rather be playing hockey, or doing some other fun activity, instead of plugging away at our daily work routine, but as adults, we know that our responsibilities come first.

If Patrick Brown continues to make poor decisions, like putting hockey before his duties as a Member of Parliament, he might just find himself 'benched' by his constituents come the next election.


  1. In my opinion, your investigation into Barrie's MP raises questions about the democratic process itself.

    A number of years ago, I attended several sessions at Queen's Park. I learned constituent interest is not always the prevailing motivation that drives government.

    In my opinion, Canada's democratic processes and its institutions facilitate corruption so when an individual MP's or MPP's driving motivation is not a desire to serve the interests of his or her constituents, people are not represented in government.

    I think the electorate believes the democratic process automatically translates into representative government and feels confused when the actions of their elected officials appears to be self-serving.

    In the absence of a system of recall or consequences for non-representation, there is simply no motivation for MPs or MPPs to change their behaviour.

  2. Thank you for your comment.

    I agree with your assessment of the lack of democratic accountability in our electoral systems.

    I would like to see reforms that would lead to election platforms being treated more like contracts and less like advertising.

    As it is, all we have to punish an un-accountable representative is our vote.

    Part of the problem with holding MPs and MPPs accountable is that you can't separate a vote for a candidate from a vote for party's platform. We only get to make one all-or-nothing decision when we vote.

    If you're dissatisfied with the local candidate but support the party's platform, you have to either put up with a candidate you didn't want, or compromise on your choice of party platform.

    I think many peoples' disappointment with the political process stems from the difference between their expectation, which is that we have a democratic government, and reality, which is that we have a democratically-elected government.

    I don't see why, with the technology we have to collect and disseminate information across the nation within a matter of seconds, that we can't have direct citizen participation in government decision making.

    In the future, I hope that politicians are not representatives, but advocates who make suggestions to the people, who then make the decisions themselves.