Monday, February 20, 2012

Parliament in Review: December 14, 2011

Wednesday, December 14 saw another day of debate devoted to free trade issues, this time addressing a proposed treaty with Jordan. But first...

The Utterly Unprecedented, Stunning Development Which Shook The Very Foundations Of Canada's System Of Government As Administered By Stephen Harper

Helene Laverdiere asked a simple question to Peter MacKay. And MacKay actually answered it.

The Big Issue

Gerald Keddy started debate on C-23 with a fairly helpful summary of the goods currently traded between Canada and Jordan. But as the opposition parties noted, there's much more to the picture than mere dollars: Brian Masse pointed out Jordan's abuses of migrant workers, while Wayne Easter highlighted its political instability. Wayne Marston noted that the main difference in philosophy between the NDP and the Cons is that the former considers human rights to be a top priority in foreign relations, while the latter somehow believes that deals aimed solely at shiny dollar figures will take care of all other issues. Masse questioned how Canadian industry can be expected to compete against sweatshop labour, and tore into the Cons over their utter negligence in dealing with the United States on border issues. Linda Duncan noted that the Cons' versions of free trade agreements were omitting even the lip service that was once paid to labour and environmental standards in NAFTA and other previous deals. Chris Warkentin, apparently concerned about any such talk, invoked the Cons' amendment-barring tactic to make sure that omission wouldn't be fixed within the bill. And Raymond Cote noted that Parliamentary scrutiny should be a crucial means of preventing Canada from signing onto bad deals - rather than the nuisance the Cons find in any critical analysis of every bill they present.

In Brief

Alex Atamanenko expressed disbelief that the Cons would approve of GMO contamination of Canada's food supply, while Libby Davies made a statement criticized their efforts to undermine the long-term viability of a publicly-funded health care system. Nycole Turmel responded to Stephen Harper's description of the Kyoto Protocol as "stupid" by pointing out some genuinely stupid political decisions. Marc Garneau raised the Cons' newly-announced intention to move all committee proceedings behind closed doors. Kennedy Stewart wondered why the Cons are rushing to force through approval for new pipelines when we already lack the resources to monitor the pipelines which currently exist in Canada. Peter Julian noted that the Harper government's spirit of giving was limited to further freebies for rich corporations - to which Jim Flaherty responded by offering the public a lecture about credit. Brad Trost, apparently concerned that we're not selling off our natural resources fast enough, introduced a bill to facilitate total foreign ownership of uranium mines. Ryan Cleary's bill proposing an inquiry into the cod fishery was defeated by the Cons at second reading. And Helene LeBlanc summed up the case for her infrastructure motion, while Dan Harris criticized the Cons' attempt to impose a private toll structure on any new infrastructure.

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