Sunday, September 25, 2011

Parliament In Review: September 23, 2011

Friday's session in the House of Commons saw a few themes discussed which figure to be hot topics of discussion for the next little while - with the continued focus on the Cons' anti-refugee bill partially giving way to economic and foreign-policy issues.

Focus on the Economy

While the Cons' legislative agenda of course has nothing to do with the economic issues at the top of mind for Canadians, the NDP's question period focussed nicely on what the Cons' economic choices actually mean. Thomas Mulcair pointed out that no private-sector actor would wilfully pass up low-cost investment opportunities like the possibility of putting money into infrastructure at rock-bottom interest rates, leading to this exchange with Shelly Glover:
Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP):
Will the Conservatives stop making excuses and start investing in the projects that will restore falling infrastructure while putting Canadians back to work and strengthening our economy?

Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what this country cannot afford to do.
Meanwhile, Laurin Liu pointed out the economic and environmental costs of pushing ahead with a plan to extract and export as much raw material as possible from the tar sands. And Mathieu Ravignat highlighted the absurdity of paying premium private-sector prices to do what can be done publicly.

No Refuge

John Rafferty offered up what may be the best summary yet of what the Cons' anti-refugee bill will do, while Irene Mathyssen and Peggy Nash catalogued some of the groups who would be caught by the Cons' desire to target refugees. Alexandrine Latendresse challenged whether the bill would have any hope of being found to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And Kevin Lamoureux and Matthew Kellway were able to agree that the bill needlessly targets the most vulnerable immigrants to Canada.

But perhaps the most noteworthy contribution was this from Helene Laverdiere:
We know that people who fish have developed nets with which they can catch tuna and let dolphins go free. In this bill, we get the impression that if the smugglers are the dolphins and the refugees are the tuna in this analogy, then the government is casting a large net to catch refugees and let the smugglers go free.
War vs. Peace

Two foreign policy issues also found their way into the discussion - with the results of one nicely serving to frame the other.

In question period, Paul Dewar pointed out that the Cons' assurances that Canada's troops in Afghanistan wouldn't be involved in combat had predictably proven to be false. And that typical gap between promise and reality looks like an important part of the backdrop for the discussion of Libya which is set to take place tomorrow.

Instructions from On High

In principle, there shouldn't have been much basis for Yvon Godin's question about the Cons' handling of committee motions to be dealt with in question period. But given that the Cons responded in substance rather than pointing out any difference between government instructions and MPs' actions, it would seem that questions about what the Cons do in committee are fair game.

In Brief

Helene Laverdiere questioned why the Cons are preventing Tunisian nationals now resident in Canada from having a voice in that country's elections. Irene Mathyssen introduced a bill to ensure that benefits under the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security are indexed to a senior consumer price index. And Deepak Obhrai apparently believes that the Auditor General's G8 report - which was of course not officially released until after May's election - has been officially superseded by the campaign where the Cons consistently declared it to have been off limits for discussion.

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