Over this past weekend a local newspaper ran an editorial that ultimately questioned the use of tax dollars for partisan purposes, more specifically for “ten-percenters” allegedly being used for partisan political “attacks”. Ultimately the editorial succeeded in generating a number of questions and comments from a cross section of citizens. I view this as a positive indicator when local citizens express interest on a particular subject and as a result would like to provide more information on this topic as part of my weekly MP report. For those of you unfamiliar with a “ten percenter” it is a mail out resource provided to Members of Parliament to communicate issues of importance from the MP to the public. As these mail outs may not exceed 10% of the total number of households in an MP’s riding, they are called “ten-percenters”. Although MP’s are not restricted by how many “ten percenters” they can send out, they are limited to households within the riding represented by the MP in question. The costs of a ten per center come out of a Member of Parliaments office budget and are disclosed annually in the Board of Internal Economy “Individual Members Expenditure Reports”. It should also be noted that Member of Parliament office budgets are subject to annual spending limits that cannot be exceeded and are also disclosed in the same “Individual Members Expenditure Report”.
As for the content of a “ten-percenter” Members of Parliament are free to communicate any issue or concern they deem of importance to local citizens. As was pointed out in the recent editorial, at times Members of Parliament from all parties have used these mail outs in a manner that many would agree is politically themed. However what was not pointed out in the editorial is that many Members of Parliament do not participate or engage in using aggressive, politically themed ten-percenters. Due to the interest in this kind of MP mail out, it is timely to discuss the approach I have taken as the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla. Any mail out from my office I authorize personally with an approach that the mail out must provide information or helps to get feedback from constituents, often both. I believe it is important to make sure my priorities are in line with constituents and that concerns are being heard. As a rule I typically avoid personal attacks or strongly themed politically partisan messaging. One observation that I have come to appreciate from our now retired MLA and former Speaker of the House Bill Barisoff, is that most citizens prefer aggressive partisan attacks are left out of the debate and discussion. Although I will not be using these particular ten percenters that have raised the ire of some, I do support the right of Members of Parliament from all sides of the House to communicate on issues they believe are important without restrictions on the content. As Members of Parliament we are accountable to you– if our comments are offensive or disagreeable we deserve to be held to account for them if not in person at a meeting or through a phone call, then at the ballot box. If you have any further questions or concerns about ten percenters please feel free to share them with me.
Parliament Hill will be a busy one this week as the formal budget implementation bill will be introduced as well as important changes to the temporary foreign workers program will be announced. In addition debate will continue on the following Government Bills– C-15 “Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act” Bill C-54 “Not Criminally Responsible Criminal Reform Act”. This will also be a busy week for Private Members Business as Bill C-476 “Parliament Budget Officer Act” Bill C-394 “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, Bill C-460 “Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada Act” along with the following motions M-428 “Electronic Petitions” M-430 “Persons with Disabilities”.
If you would like further information on these bills or any matter before the House please contact me at your convenience. I can be reached via email at [email protected] and toll free via phone at 1-800-665-8711
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.