Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Tim Harper slams the Cons for yet another omnibus abuse of parliamentary democracy:
Stephen Harper didn’t invent prorogation and omnibus legislation, but he has made two arcane polysyllabic political terms part of our everyday lexicon, improving our vocabulary but diminishing our democracy.
His shut-it-down and take-it-or-leave-it approach to procedure and legislation has gone viral, with the Ontario legislature now sitting dark, prorogued by Dalton McGuinty.
This is the second chapter of a very cynical story by the Harper government, NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said, but it’s not clear whether the opposition response will be different in chapter two.
The last omnibus budget bill began the process of gutting environmental regulations and this one takes the process another step further.
Whether these changes are good or bad isn’t the point. The point is that they cannot be properly scrutinized by the people sent to this place to hold a government to account.
New Democrats, with their opposition partners, went as far as they could in opposition last spring, given the reality of a majority government.
The Conservatives have clearly determined that a lost night’s sleep in the Commons is an easy price to pay for passing legislation their way, and the opposition may have to look for another way to engage Canadians this time around.
 - Meanwhile, plenty of journalists are rightly testing Jim Flaherty's nonsensical claim that brand-new attacks on environmental laws were somehow included in a March budget that mentioned nothing of the sort.

- Lest there be any doubt, there's every reason to criticize the McGuinty Libs for treating the Harper Cons' anti-democratic cynicism as the new normal. And both Thomas Walkom and Andrew Coyne duly blast McGuinty and the general degradation of parliamentary democracy as a result.

- No, we shouldn't be the least bit surprised that the Cons' strategy of treating everything as an opportunity for partisan gain includes foreign election monitoring.

- Finally, Josh Mandryk criticizes the Cons' attacks on unions and workers - and points out the privacy implications of the Cons' attempt to silence political countermovements:
Far from atypical, (C-377) is but the latest instance in a well-documented pattern of the Conservative government lashing out against groups seen as standing in its way.

Worse than the character assassination of former Opposition leaders St├ęphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff has been the systematic attack on its opponents in civil society. From slashing funding to women’s groups, to suppressing dissenters in the federal bureaucracy, to attacking environmental charities as “foreign-funded radicals,” this government has shown an unprecedented willingness to come down on groups who either actively or passively oppose its agenda.

And now they’ve come for the trade unionists.
Two examples help illustrate just how invasive the bill is.

First, suppose you pass away while an active union member and your spouse receives a death benefit from your union’s pension plan. Bill C-377 would require your spouse’s name and address to be posted online, along with an explanation that he/she has received a sizeable payment as a result of your passing.

Or suppose you have a disability or require medication for a serious illness not covered by your province’s health-care plan. If you receive more than $5,000 in benefits from your union’s plan, your name and address, along with an explanation of why you’ve received that money, would be published online for your family, friends and employer to see.
By demanding carte blanche financial disclosure with little justification, Hiebert appears to be swinging aimlessly in hopes of finding dirt on the labour movement.

Unfortunately, he and the rest of the world will have to dig through personal information about millions of Canadians before they find it.

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