Sunday, May 13, 2012

Parliament in Review - April 4, 2012

After the Cons refused to listen to the opposition parties' proposed amendments, Wednesday, April 4 saw a day of debate on the main budget motion in the second-last day before a Parliamentary break.

The Big Issue

Nycole Turmel rightly labeled the budget as being based entirely on (gratuitous) austerity, while Peggy Nash described the NDP's proposed alternative to the Cons' ill-advised choices. Andre Bellavance pointed out how cuts to both agriculture programs and food safety could create serious issues for Canada's food supply. Dennis Bevington lamented the lack of investment in renewable energy, then wondered what happened to the Stephen Harper who said just an election campaign ago that he would stop the export of raw bitumen rather than devoting his every waking moment to facilitating it. Charmaine Borg noted that the sudden elimination of Katimavik will be particularly harmful for young Canadians interested enough to have planned to participate this year who may find it too late to apply for alternatives. And Linda Duncan nicely summarized how the budget figures to harm Alberta.

In budget-related questions, Scott Simms questioned how budget cuts would affect the CBC, while Helene Laverdiere again wondered why the Cons had chosen to destroy Rights and Democracy. Kirsty Duncan followed up on her previous challenge to Peter Kent as to which groups were supposed to take the place of the slashed National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy; (particularly in light of other groups the Cons had cut); he once again couldn't name a single one. And Elizabeth May wondered why a Prime Minister who once decried federal interference in Alberta was prepared to impose pipeline approvals on an unwilling B.C. public.

Finally, Pierre Poilievre offered up a noteworthy bit of Republican-influenced revisionism, parroting the thoroughly-discredited claim that the 2008 collapse was entirely the result of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rather than having anything at all to do with the type of financial-sector deregulation his party tried to push in Canada.

This Success Must Be Stopped

When Hoang Mai asked why the Cons were cutting the CRA's budget for tax investigation, Gail Shea helpfully responded by acknowledging that the CRA "gets a good return on investment" from the money it does put into enforcement. Which presumably means that the Cons were glad to cut investment precisely because it was succeeding in bringing in revenue which might call into question their desire to slash the federal government.

In Brief

Laurin Liu highlighted the fact that her motion for a committee investigation into public sector employees being used as PR flacks for the tar sands was rejected by the Cons in favour of further cheerleading for oil lobbyists. Francoise Boivin pointed out the complete lack of gender impact assessment behind the Con's budget and noted that women stand to be disproportionately targeted by several questionable decisions.  Don Davies introduced a bill to establish appeals for immigrants denied permanent residency based on disability or health status. And Patricia Davidson's private member's bill on non-corrective contact lessons (as amended by agreement in committee) again received all-party support.

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