Most MPs entered public life with the determination to create a different politics from that which was on offer. A majority of MPs who participated in this project felt strongly that their communities were not adequately represented in Parliament, and they sought to change that. And even while MPs were determined to bring change to the House of Commons, their feelings of awe and reverence upon first entering Parliament as an elected official reflected their understanding of the importance of the institution and the work that lay ahead of them.
But, at the same time, most Parliamentarians we interviewed arrived in Ottawa with neither a concrete understanding of what they would be doing there, or how they could go about doing it. The MPs gave a wide variety of responses to questions regarding their role in the House of Commons.
We grouped these responses into five (often overlapping) groups: the philosophers, the geographers, the partisans, the service providers and the none-of-the-abovers. Each group contained its own tensions regarding the definition of an MP’s function and role.
Furthermore, our group of MPs was given almost no orientation or training, and was forced to devise their own means of preparing for the job. Their prior experience was seldom considered when it came to their legislative and committee appointments.