Journal Staff Writer
MP Roger Gallaway thinks it's time to wrestle law-making power from bureaucrats and return it to elected officials.
He plans to drive that point home with his colleagues next month at the Liberal caucus meeting in Edmonton.
Gallaway, an Ontario MP, is again criticizing the Justice Minister Anne McLellan and her department for what he calls undemocratic and unnecessary public hearings conducted by bureaucrats on the issue of child custody and access.
"I didn't get elected so some bureaucrat can tell me what the public thinks," said Gallaway, who chaired a joint Senate-Commons committee which conducted hearings on the same topic and submitted recommendations to the minister three years ago.
He attended one of the department's hearings in Toronto and was initially barred entry at the door.
"I went and saw a bureaucrat and he said I could go in," said Gallaway.
He had to submit an access to information request to find out when future hearings would be held but by the time he got the schedule, the hearings were already over.
"I don't know what my exact words will be (to caucus) but I'm going to object in the strongest terms," he said.
"It's not about divorce or access to information. It's about the institution of Parliament. Is it relevant or is it a rubber stamp of what the bureaucracy wants this to be?"
Gallaway made news last year for criticizing the Justice Department for launching a series of focus groups to study child custody and access.
Fellow Liberal MP John Bryden felt so strongly about being excluded from policy making, he struck an all-party committee on his own to review the Access to Information Act, a law currently being reviewed by another task force of Justice bureaucrats.
He invited McLellan to participate and to release experts to appear before his committee, but he has yet to hear from her.
Bryden, a three-term MP, unsuccessfully tabled a private member's bill last year to reform the Access to Information Act and has made it his goal to give Canada a new law to govern what cabinet has a right to keep secret and what should be made public.
"Policy is being generated by bureaucracy instead of MPs," Bryden said."We're seeing a situation where legislation is getting through the House that never should. There is a growing sense that change must come."