Sunday, May 20, 2012

Parliament in Review - April 25, 2012

Wednesday, April 25 saw one of the more noteworthy economic debates we've seen in the current session of Parliament, as a former-PC-turned-Liberal raised the issue of income inequality to a noteworthy response from the Harper Cons.

The Big Issue

Scott Brison presented what should have been a relatively non-controversial motion - calling not even for immediate action to address income inequality, but merely for study of the issue with a focus on "welfare walls" rather than substantive redistribution. But Dany Morin recognized that the Cons are doing everything in their power to reduce public knowledge of the issue - and sure enough, Brison's motion was met with admonitions from Shelly Glover and Cathy McLeod that their party doesn't believe the issue deserves any discussion.

Meanwhile, Peggy Nash nicely summed up what we already know about the corrosive effects of inequality. And Hoang Mai lamented the Cons' refusal to recognize reality. But the Cons made it abundantly clear that they don't see inequality as a problem worth addressing - meaning that we can expect at least three more years of matters getting worse.

First Principles

Another day of debate on the citizen's arrest bill led to plenty of discussion about the parties' general philosophies about criminal justice. Mike Sullivan noted that the Cons' anti-refugee bill treats newly-arrived individuals as offenders, then made the point that few if any potential offenders will look into the possible sentences before deciding to engage in criminal activity.  Raymond Cote questioned how the Cons can favour judicial discretion when it comes to the reasonableness of a citizen's arrest but not when it comes to sentencing, and suggested that we take an epidemiological point of view in evaluating our criminal justice policy. Charlie Angus commented that dealing with crime has to be a community effort rather than relying unduly on individual action. And Craig Scott pointed out that the committee process had been highly effective in addressing C-26 - again raising questions as to why the Cons are so eager to shut it down most of the time.

In Brief

Nycole Turmel criticized the Cons for slashing support to co-operatives in the budget. Charlie Angus pointed out that Bev Oda was a repeat offender when it came to frivolous spending of public money which went unaccounted for until opposition parties raised the issues. Romeo Saganash compared the cost of Oda's limo rides and five-star hotel rooms to the much smaller price of saving children through programs which the Cons are cutting, while Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet noted that the Cons had sunk to a new low in refusing to fund programs covered by a homelessness partnering strategy. Fin Donnelly contrasted the Cons' rhetoric about merely wanting to change fisheries regulation to avoid regulating ditches against their admission that part of the goal was to grease the skids for massive pipeline projects. Maria Mourani presented a private member's bill to review the extraterritorial activities of Canadian businesses. And in adjournment proceedings, Linda Duncan questioned the Cons about their choice to limit consultation with First Nations on resource projects which affect their land and livelihood.

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