The long-time Liberal MP for the Malpeque federal riding where I am resident is Wayne Easter. Mr. Easter was first elected to Parliament in 1993 and has run successfully in the 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections. It has been my personal experience that for the past number of years, he has done very little for the average constituent in the Malpeque riding. In 5 elections, he has not once appeared at my door when he is canvassing and when contacted about an issue of importance, he is either unresponsive or chooses not to intervene on behalf of his constituents in a meaningful manner.
Although Mr. Easter has gone well past his best before date, Liberals in this riding have little choice but to nominate him time and time again. It is standard procedure to nominate (i.e. rubber stamp) the incumbent MP at pre-election nomination meetings rather than letting democracy rule. If our sitting MPs were truly interested in democracy, they would encourage other nominees to step forward prior to the pre-election nomination meetings. By encouraging competition, we would ensure that our MPs do not become stale and that they are forced, by implicit threat of losing the nomination, to do the best job that they can while they represent us in Ottawa (or Charlottetown or other provincial capitals for that matter).
I would suggest the following:
1.) Canadian politicians should be limited to a 3 term maximum. Time and time again, I have seen that once politicians of all levels reach their third term of "public service", they lose their efficacy as a result of ambivalence, arrogance or a combination of the two. As well, if a politician hasn't achieved their goals for their constituents within their first 3 terms of service, they are unlikely to do so during additional terms. As an added benefit, by limiting the number of years of service, Canadians will also be limiting our growing MP/MLA/MPP pension liability.
2.) Pre-election nomination meetings for both provincial and federal elections should be open to candidates that are interested in running against the incumbent to ensure that the best and most motivated candidate runs for office. This will ensure that the incumbent does not become complacent, knowing that they will have to work hard on behalf of the grassroots members of their party to regain the nomination.
As an aside, I believe that many politicians need to reacquaint themselves with the "real world". The "Disneyland" on Parliament Hill does not in any way resemble the reality that 99.99% of Canadians face on a daily basis. So many of our politicians have spent the majority of their working careers either as politicians or associated with the political process. Their relatively limited real life experience skews how they deal with constituents, their leaders and how they handle policy related issues.
We need change now; the best before date for many of our Canadian politicians has long passed!