Sunday, May 20, 2012

Parliament in Review - April 24, 2012

Tuesday, April 24 saw a day of debate focused on a relatively non-contentious piece of legislation: a citizen's arrest bill which largely reflected Olivia Chow's work after charges were laid against David Chen of the Lucky Moose.

The Big Issue

When it came to the substance of the bill, there was little disagreement among the three parties in Parliament. Leading off the discussion was Con MP Robert Goguen, who recognized that by working with the opposition parties in committee the government had managed to improve the initial wording of the legislation - raising an obvious question as to why they aren't interested in doing the same more often. Jinny Sims carefully distinguished between the limited expansion of citizen's arrest provisions and any danger of vigilantism, while Linda Duncan and Charlie Angus highlighted the Trayvon Martin case as an example as to why we should be careful about encouraging anything along those lines.

The one dissenting voice was that of Elizabeth May, who not only questioned the inclusion of a single provision allowing for an arrest after a reasonable time, but indicated her intention to vote against the entire bill as a result. And Jack Harris recognized May's sincere concerns, while suggesting that an associated proliferation of private security firms might need to be addressed by the provinces.

The Wrong Prescription

Full credit goes to Con MP Terence Young for questioning the overuse of statins to reduce cholesterol. But Young's party-approved remedy looks like a bizarre way to counter the undue influence of big pharma in pushing its choice of profit drivers:
Most patients can lower their cholesterol with diet change and exercise without the risk of serious adverse effects from statin drugs. Since doctors generally ignore safety warnings from regulators, patients should get the best available evidence on statins from their pharmacists and by doing their own research.
In Brief

Ruth Ellen Brosseau offered a statement on Montreal's massive Earth Day rally, while Megan Leslie slammed the Cons for restricting media access to environmental scientists. Chow questioned the erosion of Canada's rail capacity under Lib and Con governments alike. Ted Hsu's question on the actual net impact of closing prisons was met with the remarkable response from Vic Toews that it would cost not a single penny to house the same prisoners elsewhere. The Cons pushed through their ways and means motion on the budget. Hedy Fry spoke to a private member's bill on cyberbullying, while Dany Morin asked whether more should be done to prevent rather than punish such harm and Goguen noted that the list of offences included in Fry's bill might be incomplete. And in adjournment proceedings Jamie Nicholls sought answers about a long list of Con patronage appointments, while Randall Garrison followed up on the Cons' air travel regulations which discriminate against transgendered travellers.

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