Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2016 Contents Mendes Liberal Party, headed by PM Justin
Trudeau, won 184 of the 338 seats in the
country s House of Commons in the last
election held on October 19, 2015, unseating
the Conservative party under former prime
minister Stephen Harper who headed two
consecutive minority governments between
2006 and 2011.
Another issue of concern to the Canadian
MPs that would resonate with Caribbean
politicians is public financing for parties.
"We used to have public subsidy for
votes...which was a very democratic way of
allowing parties to develop communication
tools with the electorate and to be able to
have some stability in the way they work,"
Up to 2015, political parties contesting
elections in which they received at least two
per cent of votes cast in the preceding election
or five per cent or more of the votes in the
various districts received a subsidy based on
each vote received. This was abolished under
the Harper administration.
Mendes said the requirement for parties
to take up the full expense of campaigns was
accompanied by "very big individual limits"
and that only individuals can contribute. "No
Super Pacs in Canadian politics at all.
CAD$1,500 per voter per year...that s it," she
said. Though the AFC had attempted while
in opposition to promote campaign finance
regulations, the two-party alliance of which
it is now a part has not made the issue a
priority and no such initiative was ever pushed
through parliament by the PPP which ran
the country for 23 years.
A process for the development of campaign
finance legislation in T&T by the Keith Rowley
administration has been promised and ought
to have already begun.
With T&T due to become a part of the
Canadian parliamentary "twinning" exercise,
it is likely all concerned will have their share
of listening, looking and learning. Such a
process was well in train in Georgetown last
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, February 22, 2016
What began as a twinning mission involving Cana-
dian parliamentarians and their Guyanese counter-
parts, who at the time were caught up in a vigorous
budget debate a week ago, ended in a learning exercise
for a group of politicians now exposed to the vagaries
of politics in a country that has had its fair share
A reception at the home of Canada s High Com-
missioner for Guyana and Suriname, Pierre Giroux,
brought out everyone s best behaviour with applause
for Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo s observation
that the occasion had brought a temporary truce to
parliamentary warfare witnessed first-hand only the
day before. Speaking with T&T Guardian, Liberal MP,
Alexandra Mendes saw in Guyana s system of pro-
the potential for
tion. Her Conservative
colleague, Todd Doherty,
supported the point by
saying the constituency
system makes members
of parliament more
directly responsible to
"They are our first
said in an interview at
the Canadian High
Commission in George-
town. The two MPs
agreed that Canada s
in which conscience
voting is a part, meant
that MPs were able to
represent their electors
without the persistent
yoke of the party line.
"I so love our system
because it makes us so
accountable to our constituents," Mendes said.
"We are directed by our constituents directly and
it is our duty to be accountable to them."
"So, I may very well stand up in parliament and
vote against my party as long as my constituency is
behind me," said the MP for Brossard/Saint Lambert
in Quebec: "I am doing my job...that s what my con-
stituency expects of me."
"But let s not be naïve here," Mendes added, "there s
always party lines but we always have the capacity to
choose the moments we can vote with our conscience."
Doherty chimed in: "I think in terms of moral issues
we re able to vote with our conscience...and that s
Mendes cited the highly-contentious long-gun reg-
istry (LGR) of Canada in which all rifles and shotguns
had to be individually registered.
"That definitely is something that has caused some
interesting and intense debates within the parties
themselves...and divisions among members."
Neither MP however agrees with the use of a right
of recall in the event a parliamentarian runs out of
favour with the electorate. "They can fire us at the
next election...that s it...that s enough," Mendes said.
"The right of recall has a huge disadvantage because
you d be campaigning all the time...you d be in cam-
paign mode all the time."
"Every four years we go through a job evaluation,"
Doherty said, while however adding that "my next
campaign started the day after my last campaign. We
are doing everything that we can every day to make
sure that we are representing our riding
(constituency)...so that we are elected the next time."
"Doing our job is the best way to convince con-
stituents that we are the best people for the job,"
Mendes said. "But being in constant campaign
mode...it s enough that we have minority governments
that we have to be thinking about that all the time."
Of politics and unlikely twins
Canadian MP Todd Doherty
PHOTOS: WESLEY GIBBINGS
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