It takes courage to do this. If MPs were courageous, then ego, hubris and narcissism might give way to honesty. Which would be nice. After all, what else did Canadians elect these men and women to do but to courageously represent their interests? And courage, as far as I know, is not something that immediately adheres to the directions of Upper Management. Rather, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.
Don't blame the politicians, they're just a symptom. Instead blame the voters. That dwindling percentage of the population that bothers to show up and vote did not elect members to "courageous represent their interests." They elected trained seals to bark at their leaders command. Ask even fairly knowledgeable friends and family, the sort who could spot Martha Hall Findlay in a police lineup, who their local MP is? MPP? Local councillor? The majority will not know or care.
I know who my local MP is. I'd have to look up who my local MPP is. No idea who the local councillor is. And I'm a political junkie. I could probably tell you more about Stephen Harper's hairstyles than about who directly represents me in Parliament. I feel not the slightest shame in admitting this. I don't care who my local politicians are. They don't matter. With a few brave exceptions they are trained seals and I'm not fond of tossing rotting fish.
Problem here isn't the politicians, it's an electorate too disengaged to care. Not just disengaged in politics but in civic life in general. Participating in local politics was once just one aspect of participating in the life of the community. You'd volunteer to coach the pee-wee hockey team, raise money for aging veterans at the Legion Hall and help nail in signs during a campaign. You had a rough idea of who your neighbours were and what were the major issues that impacted your slice of the world.
That was before. Long before post-war urban planning created the anonymous suburbs. Before government became mother, father and rich uncle to a nation of 34 million rather self-indulgent Canadians. Before we assumed some obscure paper pusher would take care of us. We took care of us. Individuals of themselves, families of one another and neighbourhoods of their residents. A complex social network that made sure that few went hungry and everyone who could worked. A whole system reinforced by a philosophy of individual liberty and local self-government.
The bravest politician cannot change the world back. If a backbencher speaks his mind and fights for the truth as he sees it, who will support him? There are certainly a few independent MPs whose constituents saw past part labels and recognized someone who would fight for them. These independent MPs, those who last more than a parliament, are often in rural areas where those old traditions of self government and civic engagement still survive. Most MPs don't represent ridings like that.
Most politicians are blanks representing an increasingly blank-like electorate. To the ordinary Canadian the government is not something they have hand, however small, in helping to administer for the general benefit, it is an autonomous force there to deliver free stuff. Generations of educational propaganda have taught Canadians that they have rights. Not the traditional rights of Englishmen (to be left alone by the state and by criminals) but the pseudo-rights to health care and education. Sure the quality of these services is rather mediocre, but the voters / consumers know little better. It is all they or their parents or grandparents have ever known.
Our system of government has adapted to the electorate. A Parliament of semi-independent MPs who could and would vote against their leadership was the product of an engaged electorate. A passive people will easily accept a placid backbench. What does it matter if Question Period is a juvenile farce? So long as my check clears. The instinct for rent seeking has never been too far below the surface of voters in any country at any time. Once Canadians at least felt ashamed enough to hide their greed and apathy. In our age of ATM government such hang-ups are as out of place as taboos on pre-marital sex.
We need a brave electorate before we can ever hope to have brave politicians.