Sunday, February 19, 2012

Parliament in Review: December 13, 2011

Tuesday, December 13 served to confirm the range of concerns that hadn't yet been taken into account in the Cons' seat redistribution bill - even as debate came to a close and the bill was rammed through against the protests of a united opposition.

The Big Issue

In response to the start and end of third reading debate on C-20, Stephane Dion and Mike Sullivan wondered why the Cons had been unwilling once again to countenance any amendments. And Scott Reid answered the latter question with a remarkable assertion:
Mr. Speaker, I have been around here for five Parliaments now and three of those were minority Parliaments. Two of them were Conservative minority Parliaments. My experience was that it was very difficult to get any legislation through at all.

I think I am correct in saying that aside from legislation initiated by the opposition, no legislation went through unless it was being presented on the condition that should it be defeated on a bill, the government would fall and have an election.
Of course, that can be disproved simply by looking at the progress of the first substantive bill ever introduced by the Cons after they took power, not to mention dozens of other examples (as a stroll through the progress of bills in the 39th and 40th Parliaments on LegisINFO would reveal to anybody concerned about facts). But it doesn't come as much surprise that Reid and other Con MPs have been instructed to wilfully ignore what actually happened in order to portray themselves as victims of democracy.

Meanwhile, Alexandrine Latendresse pointed out the obvious flaw in the Cons' statement that the bill had to pass immediately, since on its face it includes transitional provisions to allow for different possibilities as to when it would take effect. Francoise Boivin spoke about how Ed Broadbent convinced her of the need for proportional representation. Pat Martin discussed what consultation really means and looked forward to an NDP government putting the principle into action. Martin then noted the need for specific representation for different types of communities of interest - intriguingly adding socio-economic needs to the usual list based on culture and geography. David Christopherson noted that part of the effect of the Cons' bill would be to limit the time for public input on the redrawing of riding boundaries. Peter Julian pointed out a noteworthy correlation between provinces who elected Lib MPs and those who would lose seats under the Libs' proposal. Jamie Nicholls noted that pure representation by population (absent regard for provincial and cultural concerns) was never the basis for agreement on Canada's historical development.

Selective Benefits

Alexandre Boulerice spoke on his bill to bring federal parental leave up to par with that provided under provincial jurisdiction, with Christine Moore pointing out the existing gap. Kellie Leitch confirmed that the bill would do nothing more than to bring federal standards in line with provincial ones - but nonetheless declared that the Cons have no interest in bothering. And Rodger Cuzner similarly declared his party would rather see a uniformly lower standard of benefits for employees under federal jurisdiction than try to ensure equity within each province.

Pop Quiz

Terence Young compared the Cons' seat reallocation bill to which of the following events?
A. the Arab Spring
B. the fall of the Berlin Wall
C. the French Revolution
D. the war of 1812
The answers are: A and C. Which would raise far more questions about the Cons' total lack of perspective if anybody were paying attention.

In Brief

Kennedy Stewart presented a petition for a more systematic approach to combating hate crimes, while Claude Gravelle offered one seeking improved rural access to communications technology. Elizabeth May lamented the Cons' decision to tear up the Kyoto Protocol. James Rajotte was entirely unabashed about declaring the Cons' fealty to bankers. Nycoel Turmel wondered whether the Cons would reconsider their determination to shred the data underlying the federal gun registry under threat of legal action by Quebec, while Francoise Boivin noted that the Cons' own vandalism in refusing to ensure the current registry was accurate didn't provide an excuse to do otherwise. Libby Davies challenged the Cons' unilateral plan to limit health care transfers. In a series of questions on the latest report from the Environment Commissioner Megan Leslie wondered why the Cons had no interest in enforcing the law when it came to environmental offenders, Laurin Liu asked about dangerous goods transportation only to be met with the clearest indication yet that the Cons couldn't care less about preventative measures before an accident actually happens, and Philip Toone highlighted the need for accurate data about fish stocks in order to make decisions about Canada's fisheries (then followed up in adjournment proceedings). Carolyn Bennett reminded the Cons of the "99 other Attawapiskats" which have just as much need for federal action even if they aren't in the headlines at the moment. Peter Julian contrasted the virtuous circle of investment in needed services and infrastructure against the Cons' vicious cycle of handouts to the corporate sector coupled with an eroding standard of living for most Canadians. Andrew Scheer delivered his decision letting the Cons off the hook on technical grounds for their attempt to push Irwin Cotler out of his seat. Larry Miller introduced a private members' bill to prevent the bulk export of transboundary waters - but with a noticeable lack of interest in extending the standard any other types of water. And Wayne Easter slammed the Cons' disrespect for the law in forcing through their attack on the Canadian Wheat Board.

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