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"What happens when Parliament fails to hold the government to account? What happens when the very institution that is supposed to represent us becomes dysfunctional?" These are the central questions posed in A Call to Account, a compilation of interviews conducted between November 2000 and July 2001 for a series of Stornoway Productions television documentaries on Canadian government. The interviews contain the reflections, observations, and analyses of those most familiar with the inner workings of Canada's political system - from government and opposition backbench MPs, to Cabinet ministers and party insiders, to civil servants, academics, historians and the media.
The picture of Parliament that ultimately emerges is one of an impotent, stagnant institution that no longer plays a significant role in holding the government to account or in influencing public policy. Debate in the House of Commons has degenerated to the level of farce, rather than a forum for intelligent discussion. The majority of MPs have little or no ability to affect or scrutinize government action. Instead, decisions are made by an elite few, namely the prime minister and the members of Cabinet, in the backrooms of Parliament Hill - a situation that undermines the very system of government upon which our Constitution was based. A Call to Account leaves no doubt that the need for parliamentary reform is urgent; it is up to all Canadians - politicians and ordinary citizens alike - to stand up and demand that their voices be heard.