A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

First Week Back.

With parliament resuming its been an interesting week both in the House and elsewhere, our new Prime Minister continued with his almost unrelenting schedule of travelling around actually talking to people (something the previous PM avoided at all costs) and with everybody from Mayors to Provincial leaders asking him to do the impossible and reverse the decade of reduced federal support overnight. (Where is that instigator of democratic destruction anyway, I thought a sitting MP was supposed to actual show up when the House was sitting?)

The Auditor General revealed what many of us long suspected in that that magical disappearing surplus was found at least partially on the backs of the needy by withholding funds already committed for various programs and initiatives.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson's latest report lays bare massive delays processing Canada Pension Plan disability payments that have left some of the most vulnerable Canadians waiting years for benefits. 

In his annual fall report released Tuesday, the auditor general uncovered an average processing delay of 884 days that has left Canadians with severe and prolonged disabilities — such as nervous and circulatory diseases, cancers and mental illness, among others — waiting for a crucial source of income.

The membership of various committees and when they will be formed is being discussed, the most important of these perhaps being the ones to recommend persons for the Senate and the one to recommend changes to our electoral system. In regards to the latter the NDP has suggested that the governing Liberals surrender majority control over the committee and that it be formed to more closely reflect the popular vote during the election. That would mean five Liberal MPs, three Conservatives, two New Democrats, one Bloc Quebecois and one Green party member. This would reduce the implications of self interest if certain systems which some say would flavor the Liberals were to be recommended. Although I do not subscribe to the view that any particular system flavors any particular Party I find the idea of a more balanced committee membership a very good idea, all appearance of partisan interference with this decision must be eliminated if it is to be accepted by the general public.

And finally we have the bizarre sight of a Conservative standing up in question period and accusing the Liberals of being unethical for trying get some of the many persons unethically pre-appointed or reappointed to various tribunals (by their former leader) to voluntary step down and submit to a parliamentary process.

"Talking about ethical guidelines, when we are talking about a previous government's decision, at five minutes to midnight, to appoint a series of individuals to jobs to take effect after it lost the election, with no ability for this House to scrutinize those appointments, from our perspective, that was the abuse of process," said. Dominic LeBlanc, the government's House leader,

As always Mr Mercer put it all in perspective in a few short sentences:-

If you're like me, since New Year’s, you were waiting desperately for Monday, January the 25th to roll around. Last week it finally happened, marking the return of the 42nd Parliament. I was going to go up there in person and line up at midnight so I could actually watch it live but instead I caught it on TV.

Now, since then, there have been seven Question Periods. I’m guessing you don't watch every day because, well, you have a life. It's far more likely you’ve set the PVR so you can binge a whole bunch of them on the weekend. You know, invite over a special friend, Question Period and chill.

Now I don't want to give away too much away but spoiler alert—this season is awful.

Remember Rona Ambrose? Last season she was Minster of Health, this season she's Leader of the Opposition. And remember when she got the job she said on her watch the Tories wouldn’t heckle and act like spoiled children. Turns out she meant the opposite. They’re worse now than they ever were.

And the plot lines this season—totally unbelievable. Like the Conservatives are now mad that the Liberals haven't legalized marijuana yet. That is the most ridiculous plot twist I have ever heard. Do they think we’re stupid? Rona, we remember last season, heck, we remember the past ten seasons. Your party has always said legalizing pot would mean the end of the world. Now you're upset because you can’t get your weed at Costco?

And what's with Tony Clement? Every time he opens his mouth he’s saying that governments have to be transparent. Who are these people fooling? A couple of seasons ago Tony took fifty million dollars earmarked for border security and secretly spent it on gazebos in Ontario cottage country. I'm sorry, his character talking about transparency just doesn't ring true.

And then other main characters from last season have been totally written out. According to the credits, Stephen Harper’s still in the cast. He has yet to utter a single line. Why are they still paying this guy?

Look, it's early in the season, granted I will still keep watching Question Period. And Rona, it’s okay to oppose. You are the Leader of the Opposition. But stop pretending like the past ten years didn't happen. Despite appearances, it's a democratic institution, not a soap opera; you just can't pretend the past decade, poof, was all a dream.

Thanks Rick, I am sure there will be lots more ammunition for you next rant coming shortly!

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Lorne said...

There is nothing like the acerbic observations of Rick Mercer to set all things into their proper perspective, Rural. Sorry to say, I think he will, as this new government settles in, have plenty of fodder for years to come: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/02/06/liberals-back-csis-in-torture-lawsuit.html

Owen Gray said...

I'm just re-affirming Lorne's observation, Rural. Mr. Mercer -- coming as he does from Newfoundland -- knows a snow job when he sees one.

Unknown said...

I thought the NDP suggestion Rural about Liberals surrendering their majority on the committee for electoral reform was a good one. I hope the Liberals do it. Amid the ongoing unfounded criticism and smears by the Cons., the NDP suggestion was a breath of fresh air. These are rational suggestions that political parties in opposition are supposed to make. Watching Trudeau on the world stage was really revealing. Leaders from other countries wanted to seek him out and did so. As the Cons and the MSM are spewing their venom at Trudeau, Canadians are once again ignoring them and judging for themselves and liking what they see. It's early days,
but Trudeaus efforts to communicate with Canadians is a refreshing change and stark contrast from the secretive, silent dark days of Harper.

Rural said...

I have always been an admirer of Ricks ability to say so much with so few words Guys!

Rural said...

As you say Pamela a reasonable suggestion from an opposition party, I do hope the Libs treat it and other such ideas with respect. So far it seems they do care for democracy and dialog, time will tell if it lasts!