Wednesday, June 10, 2020

On obstructionism

I'll give Yaroslav Baran credit for explaining in this thread how Parliament's standard procedures have been modified over the summer. But it's hard to see how that offers any justification for the Cons' contrived outrage over Parliament being "shut down".

In essence, the process boils down to two elements.

First, it's possible for the government to advance and pass legislation in special sessions - but only with all-party consent. To the extent a single party disagrees with a bill moving forward, it has the ability to withhold consent, bringing that process to a halt.

In other words, under the special order they're determined to criticize, the Cons can singlehandedly prevent the passage of any legislation which they don't believe should be approved through an adapted procedure.

And if there's a need to pass legislation which can't secure all-party agreement? That would lead toward what Baran inexplicably describes as a "loophole", being...a return to the normal Parliamentary procedure in full, with MPs being required to attend in person in order to conduct business.

Baran is right that in that event, MPs wouldn't be able to comply with social distancing rules. But that's exactly why it's been necessary to develop alternative procedures in the first place (over the Cons' consistent refusal to cooperate), rather than clinging to the assumption that Parliament has to function exactly as it has in the past. And it's nothing short of asinine to complain about the risks of meeting in person, while simultaneously bleating that anything other than that means Parliament has been forcibly "shut down". 

Of course, the Cons' utterly unconstructive response to the question of how Parliament can best operate in a pandemic mirrors their similarly obstructive position on how the federal government should respond to COVID-19 generally. And Canadians who have had to do their best to be constructive through a period of uncertainty and unfamiliarity should expect better from the official opposition than to stomp their heels and refuse to do anything of the sort.

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