Greens Join with Liberials & NDP to Oppose Omnibus Bill

Local Liberal, Green Party and NDP officials have joined forces to call on Conservative MP Larry Miller to speak out against his own government’s omnibus budget implementation bill.
Kimberley Love of the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound federal Liberal association, Scott Maxted of the local Greens and Karen Gventer of the local NDP have co-authored a letter to Miller that refers to the 400-page Bill C-45 as an “abuse of power” and a tactic to prevent “the democratic scrutiny” of multiple changes to non-budgetary rules and regulations.
“This is a way of pressing through with a single bill, a whole bunch of things that really have nothing to do with the budget. I think that in principle is wrong,” Love said in an interview.
“I think that you are steamrolling democracy when you conduct yourself in this way.”
Bill C-45 has already cleared third reading and is en route to the Senate. Opposition parties tried to make amendments to the bill, but none were successful.
Miller said Wednesday the bill implements provisions set out in the federal government’s March 29 budget.
Changes in the bill, which he said are each related to the economy, were promised by the Conservative party at election time, he said.
“This is about them disagreeing with what we said we were going to do. And that’s OK, I respect that. They don’t like it. When we were in opposition, governments were able to do things that we didn’t like too. But they got elected to do it and the people will be the judge in three years,” Miller said.
In the one-page letter to Miller, the local politicians say Bill C-45 furthers the “negative impacts” of omnibus budget Bill C-38 by “deregulating key environmental laws.”
But most of the criticism in the letter is aimed at the government’s “omnibus-bill strategy” — the use of a single bill to make multiple changes to federal legislation.
“By incorporating so many changes into a single bill, the government makes it impossible for Parliament to effectively examine and review the proposed legislation. That, of course, is the intent,” the letter says.

Read more at http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2012/12/13/local-opposition-reps-decry-omnibus-bill 

Originally posted  Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elizabeth May: Parliamentarian of the Year.

This week MPs, senators and the media gathered in the Adam Room of the The Fairmont Château Laurier for the 6th annual Parliamentarians of the Year awards ceremony. Green Leader Elizabeth May was named Parliamentarian of the Year.
In an interview with Aaron Wherry for an article in Macleans she spoke about the state of our Parliamentary Democracy, below is a small extract..

“I love parliamentary democracy. I am fascinated by procedure. I’m beside myself with the way things are slipping.” What follows then is a 524-word dissertation—stretching from the slightest breach of decorum to the profound questions of power at the heart of our system—on the state of parliamentary democracy in Ottawa.
“I know it sounds small, but you’re not supposed to have members of Parliament standing and waiting their turn because they know when they’re going to be called and they have their speech ready and they’ve got the little podium and they’ve got a written speech in front of them and they’re standing while someone else is speaking. No one is supposed to stand except the person that’s been recognized by the Speaker and until you’re recognized by the Speaker you’re not supposed to stand. I know these may seem like small points, but it’s indicative of a failure to recognize that the respect for traditions in the House of Commons may start with things like one person stands at a time and only when recognized by the Speaker. And as soon as the Speaker stands, the person who’s in full oratory flight is supposed to sit down. Those are things that when you ignore that you also can get away with having a prime minister who ignores all parliamentary tradition and prorogues—well, not all, because Sir John A. Macdonald did it once and then paid for it by losing power—but you’re not supposed to prorogue the House of Commons to avoid a political difficulty. So a failure to respect our traditions of Stephen Harper proroguing twice then launched into Dalton McGuinty proroguing. This is very unhealthy for democracy. Because we are a Westminster parliamentary democracy and tradition and if we don’t pay attention and respect Parliament, then we are allowing the Prime Minister’s Office, which doesn’t exist as an entity in our constitution, it’s not like the executive branch and the White House in the U.S. constitution—the notion of a Prime Minister’s Office as an entity in the machinery of government is simply an invention, but it’s like a cancerous growth. And as the Prime Minister’s Office grows, and this is a trend we started with Pierre Trudeau in a much more innocuous way, it’s not reached its apex, but if we don’t do anything to stop it, what else will the next prime minister do? And as the PMO grows into being the all-powerful decision-maker, leaving cabinet ministers, basically their job appears to be the primary public relations spokesperson for an area of policy they had nothing to do with developing, it’s dangerous to health of democracy. So respect for Parliament, to me, is synonymous with respect for democracy. And I respect Parliament and that’s where the work is happening. I respect … there’s very few ministers who actually, actually I can only think of one, who sit though parliamentary debate on their own bills. And that’s, and should I say for credit where credit’s due, Jason Kenney. When his bills are being debated and when I rise to criticize his legislation, he actually knows what I’m talking about and will make a reasoned defence of his own legislation. But for the most part, it’s like a ritualized form of theatre. And that’s dangerous. It’s not just a relic, sort of an anachronism, that we still have parliamentary democracy. That’s the system. And the problem is PMO, not Parliament.”
Read more of this article

Originally posted Thursday, November 22, 2012