Thinking Critically About Casework: A View from an Ontario Constituency Office

Article 6 / 8 , Vol 45 No 2 (Summer)

Thinking Critically About Casework: A View from an Ontario Constituency Office

Constituency casework has become an integral component of how many parliamentarians understand their roles and responsibilities as democratically elected representatives of their communities. Yet the concept has not often been distinguished from other constituency responsibilities in academic literature. In this article, the author draws on his own experience as a former constituency assistant in an Ontario provincial legislative office, and on an analysis of relevant documents, to argue that the current model of constituency casework presents a number of ethical tensions for federal and provincial parliamentarians. He begins by isolating the concept of casework, proposing a working definition, and asking some basic questions about its nature and its purpose. He argues that casework is an almost entirely informal field with no explicit mandate in law or parliamentary procedure. The absence of a rule book translates into day-to-day dilemmas and quandaries for staff and members. He also observes that a vaguely understood apolitical service-provision function in the constituency office has been conventionalized over the years, and he discusses the tension between this service-provision function and the necessarily political character of a constituency office. Finally, he argues that the volume of appeals to politicians to resolve personal problems can be linked to specific problems of public policy. He concludes by calling for greater formalization and standardization of the casework mandate for both federal and provincial legislators.

Bruce McKenna

Bruce McKenna is a doctoral student in Political Science at Université du Québec à Montréal. He worked as an Ontario legislature constituency assistant from 2018 to 2020.

Politicians, political staff, and many members of the public view constituency work as one of the basic duties of elected officials. Some Members of Parliament have indicated in exit surveys that helping constituents with their personal issues was among the most rewarding parts of their time in office. Other MPs have praised the work of constituency assistants as an essential, if often overlooked, support. 1 Most scholarly analyses frame constituency work in terms of the representative function of MPs, viewing “constituency service” as encompassing a broad range of activities that take place in the riding, including attending events and filling other networking roles.2 For the authors of the recent study Representation in Action, forging “service connections” is one way among many in which politicians go about the work of “representation.”3

Few published analyses in Canada have paused to think critically about casework as a distinct concept. C.E.S. Franks observed that federal MP offices circa 2007 dealt predominantly with cases related to “the programmes of such departments as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Health Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, and the Canada Revenue Agency,” often related to “entitlements and the whereabouts of cheques.”4 The authors of Representation in Action allude to an “ombudsman role” which MPs often delegate to staff, who in turn have occasionally reported viewing their position as “a liaison between the departments and the citizens.”5 Louise Cockram describes constituency service in Nova Scotia as consisting of an “ombudsperson” role in relation to the provincial government, as well as a “direct service provision role” that can consist of almost anything. Cockram argues that this role “goes beyond representation” and has an unclear relationship to the role of MLAs in the legislature.6

While personal casework of this kind has been widely observed to account for a very large proportion of local staff time, evidence from the Samara Centre’s research indicates that there is some ambivalence among MPs around the demands of casework. Interviewees make the intuitive point that the primary responsibility of elected officials should be to contribute to policymaking and system-level solutions, rather than simply helping individuals access government services. Political offices are also by their nature ill-suited for equitable service-provision. Their mandate is informal, and constituent case files do not carry over between successive occupants of a seat.7 Some observers, including Peter Macleod and the Samara Centre, have proposed a variety of institutional reforms to formalize and streamline the service provision function of constituency offices. Ideas include making constituency staff into non-partisan public servants, and incorporating constituency offices into permanent “hubs” of civic life which would include offices of elected representatives of all levels.8

My goal in this article is to articulate some of the fundamental issues surrounding the specific concept of “casework”, as distinct from other constituency responsibilities. Drawing on my own experience as a former constituency assistant in an Ontario provincial legislative office, and on an analysis of relevant documents, I will argue that the current model of constituency casework presents a number of ethical tensions that federal and provincial parliamentarians need to grapple with. I begin by isolating the concept of casework, proposing a working definition, and asking some basic questions about its nature and its purpose. I argue that casework is an almost entirely informal field with no explicit mandate in law or parliamentary procedure. The absence of a rule book translates into day-to-day dilemmas and quandaries for staff and members. I also observe that a vaguely understood apolitical service-provision function in the constituency office has been conventionalized over the years, and discuss the tension between this service-provision function and the necessarily political character of a constituency office. Finally, I argue that the volume of appeals to politicians to resolve personal problems can be linked to specific problems of public policy. The abundance of service work to be done—particularly in urban ridings—is nothing to celebrate. I conclude by calling for greater formalization and standardization of the casework mandate for both federal and provincial legislators.

What is casework?

The language of “casework” sometimes appears in academic writing on the role of elected officials in North America. Drawing on an established US literature, a 2016 article by political scientist Royce Koop discusses casework as a subset of “service responsiveness”, and associates the concept of “casework” with two fields of activity: “intervening between constituents and the civil service” and “advocating for… constituents to the civil service and government.” Classic US academic sources similarly frame casework as a go-between function associated with the member’s access to the government and the civil service.9

These descriptions of casework do not fully capture the day-to-day reality as it is experienced by many constituency staff. Most importantly, the de facto casework mandate extends well beyond relations with the civil service. I would like to propose a working definition of casework for applied purposes—in other words, for understanding the prevailing division of labour in political offices in contemporary Canada, without formulating a rigorous intervention in academic debates over representation theory.

On the ground, we can understand casework as work done by an elected official or their staff in response to requests from individual constituents, seeking help to address problems of a personal nature. The action taken can involve providing information about government programs, community organizations, or any type of resource that might be of use to the person. The action can also involve contacting some entity—possibly a government department, but often not—in an effort to advocate for the constituent. Casework requests only occasionally overlap with policy concerns from the constituent. In a casework scenario, the constituent’s overwhelming concern is with their own personal circumstances. Only sometimes does a constituent get in touch about a matter squarely related to government bureaucracy. Other times, it may be a landlord-tenant dispute, a complex personal legal matter, a process involving an administrative tribunal, a complaint about a health care provider, a complaint about businesses or individuals in the community, or allegations of criminal behaviour.

The common thread is that casework starts and ends with the personal problems of the constituent. It is a function of the constituency office that stands basically apart from the member’s legislative work. Of course, individual constituent grievances may occasionally lead to a public escalation by a politician. This could mean a question to a minister in Question Period, a Private Members’ motion or bill, a reference in a speech or committee question, or a tweet. Particularly for opposition members, politicizing individual constituent problems is good politics. It is a politician’s responsibility to link individual problems to system-level issues. Casework is not a hermetically sealed sphere.

Casework does, however, tend to become something of a silo. In cases where the member is a Minister or even a member of the government caucus, the incentive to politicize constituent grievances is greatly diminished. It is worth remembering here that government-side members typically occupy the majority of constituency offices at any point in time. We can suppose that individual grievances are escalated through caucus and ministerial channels where appropriate. Members may not ignore the case files coming through their offices, and they may actively solicit casework from constituents while knocking on doors, as documented by recent studies.10 But it is hard to deny that much of the time, casework becomes a purely local responsibility, hived off from the member’s legislative role, and done almost entirely by staff. This also happens in opposition offices.

The division of labour in many constituency offices reflects this same point. Political staff widely take as a given that there is a distinction between casework and general constituency responsibilities. Although practices vary, constituency offices often designate one staff person as the “caseworker.” Hiring someone with a background in social work is often considered a best practice. In an office with two full-time constituency staff, one might be responsible primarily for casework, while the other looks after “outreach” responsibilities. These might include producing promotional materials, writing and sending electronic newsletters, planning events, and meeting with community groups. Casework also requires a different body of knowledge than correspondence about issues before the legislature, or even local political issues. Peter Macleod observes that many constituency staffers often report little interest in talking politics.11

Most constituent requests have practically nothing to do with the member’s actual constitutional role vis-à-vis the government and the legislature. At best the connection is strained and informal. What are the actual casework responsibilities of an MP or provincial legislator? In a manner typical of the Westminster tradition, these are largely a matter of convention. At the federal level, the Parliament of Canada Act, the Elections Act, and the Standing Orders of the House of Commons lay out the legal and procedural framework for the activities of MPs and candidates. The Standing Orders do codify the procedures by which MPs go about their parliamentary functions, and the Members By-Law defines parliamentary functions to include “activities undertaken in representing his or her constituency”.12 However, none of these documents gives anything like a detailed “job description”. By the letter of the law, there seems to be no formal mandate for MPs to deal with constituents in any particular way at all. It is worth recalling here that constituency offices, and even MP budgets large enough to hire staff, did not exist in Canada before the 1960s.13

Nevertheless, some sort of responsibility to constituents is sufficiently widely acknowledged that it is cited in court decisions. In Dixon v. Attorney General (British Columbia), Justice McLachlan refers in passing to “the elected representative’s ‘ombudsman’ function which requires the representative and his or her staff to deal with individual problems and complaints of constituents”. This function is distinct from the “legislative function” which consists of responsibilities in the Commons.14 To whom does the member act as an ombudsman on behalf of the constituent? Presumably the government.

We could perhaps formulate an implicit constitutional logic underlying constituency casework along the following lines: just as the member can raise issues with Ministers on the floor of the House, or interrogate bureaucrats in committee, so the member or their staff may contact public servants and attempt to hold them to account on specific case files.

This logic for casework, grounded in a particular interpretation of parliamentary convention, is not really codified anywhere, and does not reflect absolute consensus in practice. For instance, government departments may be subject to different norms around outside communication. In many cases, constituency staff will be directed through the Minister’s office. Currently in Ontario, Ministers designate individual political staff people as “MPP Liaisons” who sometimes act as go-betweens with bureaucrats on individual case files.15 In other cases, constituency staff converse freely with government employees at the regional and local levels. This is the informal system that C.E.S. Franks alludes to in matters of “entitlements and the whereabouts of cheques.”16

In this world, the line between political work and social work becomes blurred. This is why politicians hire caseworkers with social work training. For example, a large proportion of provincial casework in Ontario involves welfare recipients, who receive either Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits. Constituency staff attempt to mediate disputes over eligibility for particular payments, or simply catch the attention of a caseworker or manager. In OW cases, the welfare program caseworkers are not even provincial employees, since OW is run by municipalities, with provincial funding.

MPPs may of course attempt to politicize system-level problems encountered in welfare casework. But by and large, this is an apolitical sphere that simply involves trying to achieve a desired outcome for the constituent in question. This observation can probably be generalized across many areas of casework, including federal programs such as immigration, Employment Insurance (EI), and the like.

Everyday ambiguities of casework

The fact that there is no rule book for casework is not without consequences. The standard of “service” likely varies significantly from office to office, and possibly from caucus to caucus. Constituency offices receive phone calls, e-mails, and messages on social media reflecting a very wide range of personal concerns.

For many of these issues, there is no clear constitutional or legal rationale for the elected member’s involvement. Indeed, there is no formal legal mandate for casework of any kind. Nevertheless, constituency staff are faced with people in need. What should they do? They have little choice but to use their discretion, in consultation with the member. Much of the time, they may act as a kind of referral clinic to appropriate services, such as legal clinics and other community organizations mandated to help specific populations. Anecdotally, constituency assistants have been known to fill a very broad social work function. This can mean helping people fill out forms, drafting documents on their behalf, and playing a quasi-legal role in helping constituents navigate administrative processes, such as complaints under federal or provincial human rights acts. It is common for MP and MPP offices to organize tax clinics. A Nova Scotia MLA interviewed by Louise Cockram described the work of his office as “legal aid for stuff you can’t get legal aid for.” Cockram also documents a wide variety of “direct service provision” anecdotes from MLAs and staff, many of which apparently amount to miscellaneous personal favours, such as helping to heat a budgie cage.17

In a context where convention places no clear limits on the casework responsibilities of constituency staff, it is hard to know where to draw lines. In practice, it is simply up to members and staff to decide on an ongoing basis how they choose to allocate time. In ridings with large populations of poor and marginalized people, staff could easily spend all their time on casework. Some intuitive boundaries are widely observed, though not universally. For instance, provincial constituency offices tend to refer matters to their federal counterparts if they fall squarely in their wheelhouse, such as immigration cases with no health care dimension.Constituency staff also stop short of acting like lawyers, although their involvement—always nominally on behalf of the member—with entities like the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, human rights processes, and other such files is certainly a grey area in Ontario.

What of the politician’s “ombudsperson function”? What are its limits? The broad character of the conventional casework mandate seems to indulge the notion that the member can be a general-purpose ombudsperson between individuals and any institution with which they are dealing. Do MPs or MPPs call up landlords and intimidate them? Do their staff leave messages at doctors’ offices? To what extent do elected officials behave like local potentates, throwing the symbolic weight of their office around in response to requests from constituents? Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is up to the member, and casework often takes a form that is at odds with theoretical understandings of the limits of an elected official’s accepted influence. Cockram explicitly observes the divergence of practice from theory in popular understandings of the role of MLAs in Nova Scotia.18

Moreover, the ability of MPs and MPPs to actually achieve desired outcomes in individual case files is unclear, even in government contexts. Certainly, casework can be rewarding in some situations. In certain departments, established processes exist for political staff seeking to fast-track specific requests from members of the public. But in other situations, the impact of the constituency office’s involvement is far from clear. Constituency offices at the federal level often deal with very high volumes of immigration-related requests. It is hard to know whether their interventions actually have any impact.

How much of constituency casework amounts to simply attempting to be seen as trying to help the constituent? Much of the time, the hard truth of the matter is that the efficacy of casework is constrained by material and legal factors. A constituency assistant cannot change the rules governing welfare entitlements, or eliminate the backlog at Immigration Canada. Far too often, phone calls and e-mails are little more than “last-ditch” efforts by constituents facing dire circumstances, who don’t know where else to turn. This is especially true in situations like evictions, custody battles, child support disputes, deportation proceedings, and the like. If anything, what the person needs is the assistance of an actual lawyer.

No politics in the politician’s office?

Although there seems to be no codified mandate for casework anywhere, there are a number of quasi-legal documents that acknowledge its existence and importance as a sphere independent of any of the member’s other functions. The Members By-Law of the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) provides for “services to constituents provided through the former Member’s Parliamentary office or constituency office” to carry on even if there is no MP, with the Whip or Speaker stepping in to manage staff.19 Many people in the parliamentary world talk about casework as if it is an apolitical service offered to the public.

In Ontario, the Integrity Commissioner has gone a step further and declared that the apolitical character of the constituency office is part of “Ontario parliamentary convention”. In 2005, Commissioner Coulter Osborne articulated this convention for the purposes of Ontario’s Members’ Integrity Act:

A constituency office represents all constituents in the riding and the expenses of that office are paid by the Legislative Assembly. It is imperative that the office remain non-partisan at all times and in that respect, it is inappropriate to permit any partisan political activities in the office. MPPs are entitled to participate in initiatives which are political in nature, however, such participation must be outside the constituency office, after hours, and must not interfere with their responsibilities as MPPs.20

The prohibition on partisan organizational activities is intuitive enough, and is consistent with provisions in federal rules. However, the injunction that the office “remain non-partisan at all times” is not self-evident, nor is the notion that the member “represents all constituents in the riding”. Opposition members routinely incorporate constituent grievances into their public criticism of the government, which takes place in a squarely partisan context. The choice to “represent” a constituent in any given context is up to the member’s political judgement, since a wide range of views and interests exist in the riding. Members are elected on the basis of a political platform, and their advocacy choices are influenced by a range of factors. The idea of representing “all constituents” is difficult to interpret.

Perhaps another way of expressing the Integrity Commissioner’s point would be to say that members should not discriminate between constituents when exercising what we could more accurately call their service-provision function. The real parliamentary convention here is that constituency offices are expected to act as apolitical service centres, available to “all constituents.”

The Integrity Commissioner’s injunctions are based on an interpretation of prevailing practice. However, I would argue that the service-provision function of constituency offices poses some ethical contradictions in itself. At a superficial level, we need look no further than the Members Integrity Act in Ontario, which states that an MPP “shall not use his or her office to seek to influence a decision made or to be made by another person so as… improperly to further another person’s private interest.” The very next line makes an exception for “the activities in which members of the Assembly normally engage on behalf of constituents”—however, these activities are not defined in the Act.21

A person’s ability to access government services or be treated fairly in an administrative process should not be impacted by their relationship with their local politician. While political insiders and some members of the public hold strongly to the view that the constituency office has a politically neutral service-provision mandate, this perspective is hardly common sense to many. MPs interviewed by the Samara Centre freely admitted their anxiety about the fact that many constituents would not think to contact them about personal case files.22 Moreover, even if casework is approached with integrity, constituency offices simply are not apolitical spaces. Both the Conservative and Liberal parties run partisan internship programs to fill staff positions in Ottawa and beyond. In the political world, there is often a revolving door between campaign offices and parliamentary offices. If members of the public are not intimately familiar with these dynamics, they certainly intuit them. Politicians’ offices are political offices.

There is a long history of political clientelism in North America. C.E.S. Franks explains this fairly directly in reference to Canada:

Members of Parliament came from the elite of the community and knew most if not all of the electors. Patronage, guided by members of the governing party, was the glue that bound people to politics, party and country. The historical roots for the constituency service of MPs lie in these patron – client relationships of yesteryears, when the main function of the member was to obtain grants, contracts, local projects, employment in government, perhaps as postmaster, and other such benefits for constituents and, more particularly, supporters.23

We would be naïve to suppose that contemporary politicians operate entirely free from the incentives of patronage and clientelism. Integrity and ethics rules place limits on members’ activities, but the incentive to win re-election remains.

In fact, many scholarly analyses straightforwardly conceptualize “constituency service” as part of the overall electoral hustle, without discussing casework separately. Political scientists have compared Canada to other countries, and tried to identify the reasons for which MPs devote time and office resources to the constituency as opposed to the capital.24 In one sense, there is nothing scandalous about elected officials trying to do a good job by being attentive to requests from constituents. Indeed, the ethical imperative for a parliamentarian in Canada today is probably to have the best possible casework operation, since their role in service provision has been widely conventionalized. But there is also an imperative to think critically about this system.

Real needs in the community

A newly elected parliamentarian in Canada today is best advised to hire at least one constituency assistant with social work training or a related background. They should make sure that constituent requests are handled promptly, and that the office is as generous with its time and efforts as possible. This is more or less a direct imperative of the system of service provision and constituent support that has become normalized in political offices.

However, governments could do any number of things to respond to the scale of today’s reliance on constituency offices as service and advocacy centres. An intuitive step would be to increase resources to the public-facing parts of key departments and programs. If members of the public could easily reach frontline officials—or perhaps even caseworkers—in Immigration or Revenue, this would change the game to some degree. I am not the first observer to make this suggestion. At the provincial level in Ontario, more resources are needed to reduce individual workers’ caseloads in the welfare system, and allow them to spend more time helping people improve their lives. Offices such as the Ontario Ombudsman and the Patient Advocate, which offer truly non-partisan support to citizens with grievances, could be strengthened and advertised. Legal aid clinics could receive funding to provide a greater variety of assistance to a wider income bracket.

The problems of public policy here do not simply concern the accessibility of services. The scale of today’s reliance on constituency offices as service centres and advocacy hubs often reflects the severity of the social problems in the communities they represent. In urban centres, constituency offices serve the very poor. When a monthly cheque from Ontario Works comes out to less than the cost of rent, the number of desperate people quarrelling with the welfare office will be large. When the provincial government is in the business of collecting aggressively on huge student loans, it produces another category of people who will contact their MPP in vain. When vacancy rates are low, and rents are rising at unprecedented rates, more and more housing-insecure people will start contacting politicians as they stare down the possibility of homelessness. And the homeless people will drop into the constituency office, to testify to the many problems in the shelter system, and the years-long wait list for subsidized housing.

Sadly, a typical constituency assistant can only respond that they are well aware of these problems. If it is an opposition office, they can say the member is taking the government to task on the issue every day. If it is a government-side office, they can say that the government is working hard to address it. In the meantime, the phone continues to ring. MPs have spoken in interviews about how constituency service is one of the most rewarding parts of their work. But there is nothing rewarding about continually informing people that there is little you can do. Existing accounts of constituency service tend to miss this point. Often, it may be because they are based on interviews and brief periods of observation, rather than on in-depth knowledge of the types of cases dealt with. There is also probably significant regional variation in the needs of communities. Maritime constituency offices do not get foot traffic from large municipal shelter systems of the kind that exist in major Canadian cities. It is possible to imagine that “direct service provision”—the allocation of staff time to miscellaneous personal favours for constituents—is basically a harmless neighbourly custom in parts of the country where needs are less severe.

We should not let the ostensibly rewarding character of casework—or its value as a set of “service connections” in the representation process—distract from the tangible issues of economics and public policy that drive people to contact MPs and MPPs.

Conclusion

My goal in this article has been to focus the conversation around constituency service on the specific issue of casework, and to articulate ethical issues in the prevailing model as I came to understand them in my time as a constituency assistant in an urban riding in Ontario. The lack of a formal mandate for casework means that members and their staff simply decide what they are willing to do on an ongoing basis, which creates inconsistencies in service provision. Such inconsistencies would be acceptable if we were prepared to view casework as straightforward political clientelism. But when integrity commissioners and boards of internal economy attempt to define constituency offices as strictly apolitical spaces that offer services to the public, even when the seat is vacant, then we must acknowledge the contradiction between these two understandings of casework.

This contradiction could be partly resolved by limiting the scope of casework to files that deal directly with government operations, and referring other requests to relevant services in the community. Political staff should not be in the business of doing people’s taxes. A shift to this sort of model is difficult to envisage, however, as long as community supports remain inadequate. Furthermore, the need to win re-election can be a very strong incentive toward clientelistic behaviour, even if the issues in question are not matters of life and death. In a very real sense, MPs and MPPs are under pressure to simply please as many people as possible in the riding. If it helps to have a staffer attend to someone’s clogged toilet—a real example cited by Cockram—then there is not much disincentive from embracing “direct service provision.” But some kind of publication—perhaps just guidelines published by boards of internal economy—could at least sketch out a theoretical mandate for constituency casework, and establish recommended boundaries around appropriate use of staff time. This conversation is also relevant at a time when parliamentary human resource matters are increasingly open to public discussion and regulation by boards of internal economy. Moreover, a formalization of the casework mandate could resolve ambiguities around the appropriate extent of the member’s involvement in any number of administrative processes or matters involving institutions in the public realm. This would be a measure of progress toward standardizing the service-provision function, and could also discourage members from taking an arbitrary or excessively narrow approach to casework.

Casework is a distinct function of constituency offices, and its importance in practice means that it should not be viewed through the same informal lens as the myriad other activities associated with holding elected office.

Notes

1 Terhas Ghebretecle, Michael Morden, Jane Hilderman, and Kendall Anderson, Beyond the Barbecue: Reimagining constituency work for local democratic engagement (Toronto: Samara Centre for Democracy, 2018); Alex Marland, Whipped: Party Discipline in Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2020), 62; David C. Docherty, Mr. Smith Goes to Ottawa: Life in the House of Commons (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997), 187.

2 Royce Koop, Heather Bastedo, and Kelly Blidook, Representation in Action: Canadian MPs in the Constituencies (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018); Docherty, Mr. Smith Goes to Ottawa, Chapter 7; Munroe Eagles, ‘The Political Ecology of Representation in English Canada: M.P.’s and Their Constituencies’, American Review of Canadian Studies 28, no. 1–2 (1 June 1998), 53–79.

3 Koop, Bastedo, and Blidook, Representation in Action, 19.

4 C. E. S. Franks, ‘Members and Constituency Roles in the Canadian Federal System’, Regional and Federal Studies (27 April 2007), 32. Koop, Bastedo, and Blidook make similar observations.

5 Ibid, 61.

6 Louise Cockram, ‘“Legal Aid for Stuff You Can’t Get Legal Aid For’: Constituency Role Orientations among MLAs in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Parliamentary Review- La Revue Parlementaire Canadienne 41, no. 3 (Autumn 2018).

7 Ghebretecle et al, Beyond the Barbecue; Louise Cockram, “Legal Aid for Stuff You Can’t Get Legal Aid For”

8 Ghebretecle et al, Beyond the Barbecue; Peter Macleod, The Low Road to Democratic Reform: Constituency Offices, Public Service Provision, and Citizen Engagement, report to the Democratic Reform Secretariat of the Privy Council Office of Canada (The Planning Desk, 2005).

9 Koop, “Institutional- and Individual-Level Influences”, 812; Eulau and Karps, “The Puzzle of Representation”, 243.

10 Koop, Bastedo, and Blidook, Representation in Action, 81.

11 Macleod, The Low Road, 14.

12 House of Commons, Members By-Law (March 25 2021), section 1.

13 Macleod, The Low Road, 9. The absence of a “job description” has also come up in exit interviews in the Samara Centre’s research, and is observed in Louise Cockram, “Legal Aid For Stuff You Can’t Get Legal Aid For.” See also Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan, Tragedy in the Commons: Former Members of Parliament Speak Out About Canada’s Failing Democracy (Toronto: Random House Canada, 2014), Chapter 4.

14 Dixon v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 1989 CanLII 248 (BC SC, 18 April 1989).

15 Job titles in Ministers’ offices are visible to the public in the provincial government’s online directory, INFO-GO.

16 Franks, ‘Members and Constituency Roles’, 32.

17 Cockram, ‘Legal Aid for Stuff You Can’t Get Legal Aid For’

18 Ibid.

19 House of Commons, Members By-Law, section 108.

20 Quoted in Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Office of the Integrity Commissioner, Report of Lynn Morrison, Integrity Commissioner Re: Jagmeet Singh, Member for Bramalea—Gore—Malton, Toronto ON, June 26 2015.

21 Members’ Integrity Act, 1994, S.O. 1994, c. 38, ss. 4-5.

22 Ghebretecle et al, Beyond the Barbecue.

23 Franks, ‘Members and Constituency Roles’, 30.

24 See Eagles, ‘The Political Ecology of Representation’ which argues for the importance of regional factors.

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