Little Fish in a Giant pond

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who's dangerous now?

Does anybody remember the pseudo-vote of confidence that was held during the last few months of Paul Martin's time as PM? The Bloc and the Conservatives ganged up and voted on a motion that stipulated that one of the house committees (I forget which) should change the recommendation of its report to recommend that the government resign because the house had lost confidence in it. The motion was intended to be a de facto Vote of non-confidence in Paul Martin's government, and of course the Liberals did not win the vote, even though it had the support of the NDP. There was absolutely no question that under Canada's constitution, this was not an official vote of no confidence however, it was argued that there was a strong moral obligation for Prime Minister Martin to ask the Governor General to dissolve parliament and declare a general election. It was for this reason, that when Prime Minister Martin refused to do so, our then leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper, announced to the entire nation that the PM had proven himself to be "dangerous". Our soon-to-be Prime Minister then reassured us all that he would not allow the Liberals to hijack democracy (this is not a quote, but I'm sure you get the gist of it).

Now it appears that the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. Bill C-288, which was proposed by liberal MP Pablo Rodriguez, sets a limit of 60 days for the government to draft legislation that brings our nation in line with the Kyoto protocol, has just passed the House of Commons and is awaiting senate approval. According to Alexander Panetta of the Canadian Press, the government is hinting strongly that it will simply ignore the legislation if it is made law.

See: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/kyoto_battle

There is also the matter of Bill C-292, which was proposed by the right honourable Paul Martin, who still holds his seat in the riding of Lasalle-Emard. This bill has already passed its second reading in the house and currently sits at the committee stage. The effect of this bill is to force the government to implement the Kelowna Accord, which is meant to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal-Canadians nation-wide. While I am unaware of what the Harper government plans to do if this act is passed, I'd say they are already setting a dangerous precedent with Kyoto. The Harper government has already declared that they have no intention of implementing the Kelowna Accord, so frankly I am not optimistic.

The extent to which Prime Minister Harper is willing to be hypocritical defies one's imagination. Unlike the non-binding vote that was intended to bring down the Martin government, the two bills mentioned above would actually have the effect of creating a legal obligation for the Harper government. And yet despite his big words as leader of the official opposition, our Prime Minister seems set on ignoring the will of our duly-elected representatives. A pretty bold move for someone whose party claims to "obey the law" (a phrase they frequently employ when justifying their decision to cut the court challenges program).

As alarming as the degree to which the PM is willing to reverse his stance is, it is not nearly as alarming as the speed that he is willing to do it in. First there was the Emerson appointment, then his failure to allow parliamentary committees to appoint their own chairs (in contradiction to promises he had made), and the list goes on.

According to the above-mentioned report from the Canadian Press, a high-ranking government official (who requested anonymity) actually dared the opposition to propose a vote of confidence over the matter. To do so now, would be playing into the Tories hands, as the law has not yet passed and they have not actually gone so far as to announce that they will ignore it. If I were one of the opposition party leaders, I would be waiting for the government to either come out and say they intended to ignore parliament or until AT LEAST one of its laws had been violated. It seems to me that the Prime Minister would have a very difficult time convincing Canadians that he is not dangerous by his own definition.

10 Comments:

  • Hey if you don't like it, go to Russia.

    I don't like the fact that the government would ignore a law either, it sends the wrong message. But on the other hand, this " bill" is nothing more than political showmanship: it has no money attached to it, and the idea of meeting the 2012 targets in less than 2 YEARS is unbelievably dangerous ( unless you see the collapse of the economy as a good thing). The sole purpose of this bill is to embarass the government. If it was for a real policy debate, it should have been done when the Liberals had a majority, or even in the last parliament when they could have worked it out with the Bloc and NDP. So for that reason, I b elieve the Tories, must ignore it, because this bill is not intended to improve public policy.

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 12:59 PM  

  • Actually my old friend, if you don't like it, I think it is you and your party who may be better suited by a change of address.

    Whether you agree with the Kyoto accord or not, if that Bill passes it will become the law of Canada. I'm sure President Bush would be happy to grant you refugee status!

    By Blogger Fish, at 1:19 PM  

  • So you don't think that particular Bill will impose economically cripling sanctions... and guess who would suffer the consequences for this...you guess it, ordinary workers, and of course politically the Tories would be wipped out, but that i'm sure is not what the Liberals want right? Even John Ibbitson of the G&M admits as such
    Opposition playing with fire

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 2:35 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 2:40 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Fish, at 6:03 PM  

  • If he speaks the truth, Prime Minister Harper has just regained some of my respect. Please see the article below:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/kyoto_battle

    MA, we could debate the validity of Kyoto if you like, but two of the most important principles in Canadian democracy are "the rule of law" and "the supremacy of parliament". I would say that as important as it is to protect the economy, democracy is better served. By the looks of the above article, your own party leader agrees with me.

    If the PM believes that he cannot run the country effectively with this legislation as law, he must ask the GG to declare an election, so that he can win a majority government and repeal the legislation (but of course, to do so is to roll the dice).

    By Blogger Fish, at 6:05 PM  

  • What would be better, I think, is to see a plan, from both the liberals and the government. We could then debate the validity of both plans and let the voters decide which one is the best.

    The problem we have is partisanship over the environment problem. Liberals call for more action, conservatives whine about the previous lack of action, can we just agree that something needs to be done now and get over it? We can play tip of the hat and wag of the finger for years, but Canadians will have a lesser opinion of politicians in general if we fail to seriously challenge the environmental problem.

    I do agree, in principle, that Harper should follow the law that was passed, and I do think his comments are respectable. But I will certainly define my opinion on the ACTUAL actions taken.

    No need to move to Russia or the USA guys.

    By Blogger Léo Bourdon, at 6:00 AM  

  • Brian, I'll be the first to admit that I hated when the Liberals did that in minority ( and even majority) parliaments, so it would be hypocritical if I defended what the government did. I don't like it either, but unfortunately, I strongly feel if the government did accept this bill and eventually law, it would really be harmful ( this is not Cons propaganda, but even some non-conservatives are saying the short deadline are now unachievable) to the economy. This to me really looks more like a game of chicken then a need for public policy. Partisanship aside, I'm not sure this bill would improve Canada's environmental record anyway.

    I really understand the worry here, that it would look bad ( the opposition is probably aware of this) for the government, and democracy. Had Pablo Rodriguez established clear plan and a long term solution ( not 2050 obviously, but something closer to 2015 instead of 2008) so the impact on the economy wouldn't be drastically affected.

    I can't help but wonder that if this bill is such a god-send, why couldn't the Liberals pass it earlier when they had the power, with the help of either their majority, or the NDP and the Bloc ?

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 6:09 AM  

  • I just wanted to point out a VERY GOOD article by Toronto Star columnist ( not exactly a Tory cheerleader) Chantal Hébert today ( 16/02/06)
    Dion stripped of his environmental edge

    By Blogger Marc-André Mongeon, at 8:41 AM  

  • hummm, moral of the story: "les anglais c'est des hypocrites" ? =P

    Ok, history has shown that Canadians are a "Liberal" nation and only like the Conservatives when the Liberals have screwed up, so don't worry too much Brian, they'll be back sometime soon in the future.

    As for the environment, something has to be done... wether its by the liberals, the conservatives, or both... doesn't matter, something positive that will promote changes in the industry and even policies to ensure that canadians change their habits concerning the environment. There's a LOT of damage already done, just in Ottawa, a good example is the loss of all the land that used to be used for the agriculture, condos, strip malls and big big houses are being built on it. Once that land is taken, it will be very hard to reclaim. People say that selling that land is very profitable... the question is more, what are we gonna eat...

    By Anonymous Walleye, at 6:53 AM  

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