Saturday, May 26, 2012

Parliament in Review: May 1, 2012

Tuesday, May 1 saw more debate on a couple of relatively non-contentious bills - along with a prime example of the Cons' blinkered focus on mandatory minimum sentences.

The Big Issue

In continued debate on the Lucky Moose self-defence bill, the NDP pointed out some of the ways the legislation could have been improved if the Cons had been willing to listen. Wayne Marston pointed out that some more recognition of battered spouse syndrome in particular would have been appropriate, while Guy Caron noted that in general some greater discretion in assessing the circumstances of a given event would be a plus.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth May criticized groupthink within parties - and Alex Atamanenko agreed as to the need to listen to voices outside one's own caucus. Linda Duncan highlighted the importance of not using the weight of the legal system to criminalize poverty. And Andre Bellavance confirmed the Bloc's support for the bill in advance of its passage.


Pierre Poilievre did his best to make debate on a railway safety bill into an ideological and partisan battle by using a tired trope about the "few legitimate roles of government" amidst a paean to the minister giving him orders about the bill - earning some well-deserved criticism from Pat Martin. But Olivia Chow and Mike Sullivan expressed support for the bill despite noting that it falls far short of dealing with the need for improved rail service - while Philip Toone highlighted the latter point.

Meanwhile, Duncan raised questions about environmental cleanup and reclamation of railroad beds. And Martin called for a specific project to deal with Winnipeg's rail yards, while also pointing out that railroad cost is just as big an issue as safety for prairie farmers.

In Brief

Alexandrine Latendresse introduced a bill to require that officers of Parliament be bilingual. Thomas Mulcair made a statement for International Workers' Day, while Alexandre Boulerice questioned how they could possibly justify forcing unemployed Canadians to desperately accept "any old job". Megan Leslie slammed the Cons' cuts to Parks Canada, Helene LeBlanc followed up questioning their attacks on research and data collection, and Randall Garrison pointed out that the loss of the Canadian Emergency Management College may prove disastrous for communities who count on it to train emergency workers. Parm Gill spoke to a private member's bill imposing new mandatory minimums for gang recruitment, with Pierre Jacob and Irwin Cotler signalling a willingness to study the bill further but wondering whether it actually figures to serve any useful purpose. Anne Minh-Thu Quach asked adjournment questions about the Cons' shameful asbestos boosterism, leading to Jacques Gourde's stunning response that his own government's refusal to apply international hazardous substance standards somehow served to justify continued promotion of the industry. And Andrew Cash called out the Cons for a particularly egregious non-response from Jim Flaherty on a question about housing which was met with what appears to have been a verbatim recitation from Rob Ford's campaign material.

[Edit: fixed introduction.]

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