Monday, December 12 saw two main topics of debate. But perhaps most striking was the introduction of the Cons' newest tactic to dictate the terms of discussion in the House of Commons.
The Big Issue
Much of the day's discussion focused on the Cons' copyright bill. And Paul Calandra started proceedings by moving that question be put in order to prevent any amendments to the legislation at the last stage where the bill could be amended in substance; naturally Scott Simms among other lamented the fact that the Cons had started using yet another means to shut down discussion of any alternatives.
Calandra also grandstanded about how our corporate overlords would never be anything less than benevolent in deciding what rights consumers should hold, only to be met with Charlie Angus' example of Sony CDs containing spyware (which the Cons want to give precedence over any consumer rights). Jean Rousseau discussed the history of fair dealing. Philip Toone noted that the Cons' scheme could only be explained as an example of trickle-down theory run amok, while Andrew Cash highlighted the Cons' propensity for listening only to corporate interests. Cash then criticized the destruction of existing revenue streams for artists and noted that blanket licenses - unlike an undue focus on digital locks - would actually allow for more income for creators. Angus commented on the value of the digital commons which the Cons are attempting to make subject to corporate interests. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet and Matthew Dube discussed the value of the course notes the Cons want to make subject to involuntary self-destruction. And with the Cons unwilling to debate or answer questions about their own bill, Kevin Lamoureux and Jose Nunez Melo could only muse as to how nice it would be to get some assurance that consumers won't find that they've bought much less than they've bargained for due to digital locks.
No Such Thing as a Free Trade Agreement
The other bill debated was legislation on a free trade agreement with Panama - with Lisa Raitt likewise moving that the question be put to prevent the opposition from being able to offer any amendments to the bill as foisted on the country. Mathieu Ravignat, Wayne Easter, Robert Chisholm and Brian Masse pointed out Panama's status as a tax haven and money-laundering centre. Masse reasonably suggested that we shouldn't be seeking trade deals that would force Canada to try to compete with child labour. Elizabeth May pointed out some of the (possibly) unintended consequences of NAFTA in limiting governmental action. John McKay pointed to the Cons' consistent pattern of proclaiming themselves "surprised and disappointed" at international events that would have been known to anybody paying the slightest bit of attention. Simms asked whether Panama was similarly eager to avoid debate on the treaty, with Raitt's answer serving only to confirm that the Cons' steps to limit debate have nothing to do with any timeline to implement the treaty. And in a question that particularly resonates this weekend, Chisholm wondered whether we should actually know what's in a treaty and its implementing legislation before ramming them through.
Choose Your Side
As an added bonus, the House of Commons voted on the Cons' seat redistribution bill and related motions. And while the Libs lined up with the Cons to provide a larger cushion than usual for the complete lack of change to the government's wording, it's noteworthy that Elizabeth May joined the Bloc in support of the NDP's motions.
Joy Smith's bill on human trafficking received all-party agreement at second reading. Pat Martin warmed the crowd up for question period by pointing to Bruce Carson's sordid history as a Con adviser and beneficiary. Nycole Turmel and Peter Julian questioned the Cons on their suppression of economic and trade data. Matthew Kellway helpfully provided Julian Fantino with his talking points on F-35s after having heard them a few dozen times already; Fantino apparently didn't have enough self-control to avoid sticking with them even after being rightly mocked in advance. Helene Laverdiere pointed out the Cons' continued secrecy about the terms of a new Afghan transfer agreement. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe questioned why the Cons have handed billions of free dollars to banks rather than helping the many Canadians living in poverty. May asked whether Parliament would at least have the chance to debate withdrawal from Kyoto that it had in acceding to the treaty in the first place. Mylene Freeman commented on a committee report on violence against aboriginal women by noting that the Cons had refused to either acknowledge the problem or take responsibility for any solutions. And in adjournment questions Irene Mathyssen followed up on the Cons' mismanagement of Service Canada which has led to the point where most callers can't even get through to a machine, while Jean Crowder asked whether the Cons will support the NDP's bill for a national anti-poverty strategy if they can't be bothered to deal with the problem of their own volition.