Trudeau wants to empower backbenchers his dad once dubbed 'nobodies'

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau wants to reverse his father's famous assessment of backbenchers as "just nobodies."

The Liberal leadership front-runner is proposing a series of democratic reforms aimed at turning MPs into somebodies — more independent, more powerful and more in tune with the constituents who elected them.

Should he become prime minister, Trudeau says he'd relax party discipline in Parliament, giving government backbenchers the freedom to vote as they see fit on all but three categories of bills.

They would be required to support the government only on budget or money bills, legislation to implement the Liberal election platform and bills involving fundamental charter rights.

Trudeau says he would also appoint backbenchers to cabinet committees and give Commons committees more resources to conduct independent, expert analysis of proposed legislation.

While he'd empower MPs once they get to Parliament Hill, he'd force them to fight contested nominations for the right to carry the Liberal banner in elections — no more protection of incumbents or appointment of candidates.