What would happen if MPs had to produce an annual report for their constituents? (Graphic by Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority)

What would happen if MPs had to produce an annual report for their constituents? (Graphic by Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority)

• Last week, I argued representation should not only be done but should be seen to be done. Tory backbencher Michael Chong’s reform bill may not help on either score. But a recommendation from the United Kingdom’s Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, if implemented in this country, might help on the later one.

The authority, which oversees and regulates MPs business costs and expenses, has recommended all elected officials should produce an annual report. If such a report included metrics on MP voting behaviour and public engagement — including how often they toe the party line — it could help show constituents how much representation is being seen to be done on their behalf. And if that representation isn’t being seen to be done, those reports could pressure MPs to publicly express their views and those of their constituents.

• During my nine years as a legislative reporter, it seemed to me that public officials and institutions in British Columbia became increasingly willing to ignore requests for comment from the news media. I would hazard journalists in other provinces have experienced similar problems. But NPR’s On The Media has come up with a novel solution.

After the program was unable to get answers from the Department of Homeland Security about policies related to the treatment of American citizens at airports and borders, it setup an online tool so listeners could ask those same questions of their elected representatives. But I wonder what resorting to that strategy means for the press’s position relative to the powerful in North American society.

• “Bloomberg News has an an unusual practice of paying some of its reporters explicitly for publishing “market-moving” stories,” reports Business Insider Australia. A spokesperson for the wire service acknowledge that practice — which has raised eyebrows in some quarters — saying, “We strive to be first to report surprises in markets that change behaviour and we put a premium on reporting that reveals the biggest changes in relative value across all assets.” But I wonder what would happen if general interest news outlets adopted a similar practice, paying reporters explicitly for enterprise journalism that make a societal or political difference?

• University of Manitoba political science professor Royce Koop and his University of Regina colleague Jim Farney will be soon be once again weighing in on place and status of constituency associations in our democracy. Over the summer, Koop and Farney presented a paper on that subject at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association. And now Koop announced, in a twitter posting, that he and Farney will be updating that democratic audit.

• The workings of our lobbyist registry and how it compares to those in the United States were among the subjects discussed at the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws‘s annual conference. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Guy Giorno, a partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, was there and tweeted some of the proceedings:

You can find more of Giorno’s commentary on the conference here.

Have a news tip about about the state of democracy, openness and accountability in Canada? You can email me at this address.

One thought on “THE WEEK THAT WAS — DECEMBER 14, 2013

  1. Pingback: SECRETS REMAIN UNDER “OPEN GOVERNMENT” PLAN | Sean Holman's Unknowable Country

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