Saturday, April 28, 2012

Parliament in Review - March 28, 2012

Wednesday, March 28 saw a final short day of debate on the Cons' minimal bank regulation bill.

The Big Issue

Peter Julian questioned the Cons' competence in rushing to force through a bill when the review period has been known for years. Hoang Mai lamented the lack of a serious look at Canada's financial system, while Robert Chisholm again noted that plenty of consumer protection options were omitted from the bill. Dany Morin followed up on the issue of consumer debt which has skyrocketed since the Cons took power.

Meanwhile, the big issue also included a massive diversion of attention as the opposition parties worked on allocating credit for the fact that Canada's banking system didn't end up the incomprehensible and unregulated mess that caused so much damage in the U.S. While the Cons' laughable claim to credit based on their demanding exactly what we avoided was easily dismissed, there was plenty of back-and-forth between Robert Chisholm, Don Davies, Wayne Easter, Elizabeth May and Geoff Regan as to the Libs' role - with the former two pointing out that it was Lib cabinet ministers who opened the door to discussion of deregulation only to be shouted down by citizen resistance, while the latter three tried to edit out that bit of history and give the Libs sole credit for the end result.


Helene Laverdiere raised a point of privilege as to the Cons' refusal to actually answer her written questions - where very specific and targeted questions about the Office of Religious Freedom were met with boilerplate talking points which had nothing to do with the precise questions asked. And Peter Van Loan replied with the remarkable assertion that if his party saw fit to make a mockery of the written question process, her only recourse re-submit the same question through the same process which the Cons had already sabotaged.

In Brief

I've pointed out before the seeming absurdity involved when the House of Commons holds standing votes on issues where there isn't a single dissenting MP to justify that procedure which is intended to reflect "division". And this day saw two such votes: the first on S-5, the second from Guy Lauzon including accountability of offenders as a purpose of the federal correctional system. Meanwhile, a more interesting vote took place on the Cons' flag-waving jingoism bill, with the Libs offering their support while the NDP and Bloc provided actual opposition.

Rejean Genest moved a motion on the right to housing and the need for investment to combat homelessness. Remarkably enough, the motion actually attracted the Cons' support, even as Jean Crowder highlighted their intention to utterly ignore the intent of the motion in the years to come. Meanwhile, it was the Libs who were ambivalent about their intentions.

David Christopherson delivered the line of the day on the Cons' bad-faith dealings with Elections Canada and unwillingness to allow Marc Mayrand testify before committee at any time other than during the budget lockup:
Talk about the Prime Minister's dream democracy: an electoral process the Conservatives can manipulate, our Chief Electoral Officer with no powers and all the journalists locked up.  
Thomas Mulcair reiterated the Cons' past commitments not to cut public services in advance of a budget that broke those promises. Peter Julian noted that the Cons had already said they had all the tools available needed to protect jobs at Aveos, then asked why they apparently couldn't be bothered to use them. Even before the Cons' budget legislation was presented, Megan Leslie raised the since-confirmed fear that vital environmental legislation would be gutted through an omnibus bill. Francis Scarpaleggia commented on the need for improved public transit for Montreal's West Island. Rathika Sitsabaiesan asked adjournment questions about post-secondary education. And Jonathan Genest-Jourdain left no doubt that the NDP hasn't forgotten the mess the Cons have made of Attawapiskat and so many other First Nations in believing their only job is to cheerlead for resource development.

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