Sana Hassainia, you ask, what the heck is that?
Actually it’s a who: Sana Hassainia is the independent (but formerly New Democrat) MP for the Quebec riding of Verchères-Les-Patriotes, and according to the CBC she is the MP with the poorest attendance and voting record. Today, she’s announced that she won’t be running for re-election:
In a statement posted to her parliamentary website, Sana Hassainia said that she would continue to represent the citizens of Verchères-Les-Patriotes to the best of her ability as a “maman-députée.”
Okay, yes, Ms. Hassainia was one of the “Orange Crush” MPs who probably never expected to be elected. Her riding used to be held by the Bloc Québécois’ Luc Malo, which is one of the reasons why you’ve probably never heard of it (Bloc MPs usually don’t get coverage outside Quebec). What’s worrisome about this news story, though, is its description of how Ms. Hassainia saw her duties as an MP:
She also points out that it was the NDP caucus leadership that chose not to assign her to a House committee, and didn’t put her in the regular rotation for question period.
“I wasn’t among the star MPs who deserved to ask questions,” she said.
In an interview with CBC News last week, Hassainia said that she missed the votes because she didn’t feel that her vote as an opposition MP mattered with a majority government.
“So I allowed myself to do this, because it’s not my little voice that makes a difference,” she told CBC News in French.
I’m sorry, but even as a partisan Tory I’d be ticked off at that kind of attitude from any MP. Even granting her status as a mother of newborns (with which she excuses her poor attendance record), to carry the attitude that “my vote doesn’t matter because it makes no difference” does a disservice to the people who voted her into office. Even if she voted straight down the NDP party line, she can at least say that her vote is her own exercise of judgement on behalf of the people of Verchères-Les-Patriotes, expressing their concerns and will on the legislation and business before the House.
(Mind you, it’s not quite true that she didn’t have any committee work. According to the Parliamentary website, she was a full member of two committees: Status of Women and Scrutiny of Regulations. So, she’s not really a total slacker. Even so, her attitude is still a bit worrisome.)
It’s worrisome because, come the next election, we’re going to get a lot more MPs into the House. And, no matter what side they’re sitting on, the odds that some MPs will show the same attitude as Ms. Hassainia are going to be pretty good, whether they’re freshly-minted government backbenchers or Opposition newbies staring in despair at their numbers.
Were Ms Hassainia a small business owner whose paycheque depended on her presence at the shop, would she be so cavalier about her attendance there? Perhaps the HoC needs to introduce an attendance policy. And no mat leave, either; there’s no way to effectively ‘sub’ in the local MP.