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, April 5, 2015

Sorry, Your Partisan Slip is Showing

We know that the House public safety committee has been 'studying' the government's anti-terror bill and that despite the long list of influential and knowledgeable people wishing to speak to the dangers of this bill to our freedoms and privacy the list of those permitted to participate was severely restricted. We also know that throughout the process the Conservative members routinely defended the bill as written and showed no interest in amendments proposed by various presenters. They even deliberately blocked the Leader of the Green Party, who later was permitted to present but not speak to, multiple amendments from presenting her views on the bill.

While Ms. May was a regular attendee of committee hearings during its study of Bill C-51, Conservative MPs blocked her every attempt to ask a single question. Although any MP has a right to sit at committee, participation is at the discretion of the Chair. During these hearings, the Chair chose to put Ms. May’s requests to the floor for unanimous consent, which was summarily denied by her Conservative colleagues.
The process by which Green MPs submit amendments to committee is one created by PMO to deprive Green MPs from‎ presenting amendments to the House of Commons at Report Stage. Ms. May used this right effectively in opposing Bill C-38 in spring 2012. Since the fall of 2013, due to identical motions passed by Conservatives in every committee, Green amendments are deemed to have been moved at committee. Ms. May and Mr. Hyer will be given time to present each amendment but are not allowed to vote.

However now with intense pressure from both the public, forem Supreme Court Judges, Academic and even former Prime Ministers and word coming down from above it seems it is suddenly OK to make some of the changes proposed by those that did get to speak.

At no point during the 18 or so hours of testimony on the bill did even one of them publicly voice concerns over any of the provisions that they will now propose be tweaked in response to witness concerns.
In fact, in at least one case — removing the word "lawful" — multiple witnesses, including those who were largely supportive of the bill, had recommended exactly such a change.
Several of those witnesses pointed out that, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Liberal government of the day had initially included a similar provision in its anti-terror package, but struck it from the text after the expert witnesses of the day expressed concerns over potential overreach...............
Witnesses who raised red flags over the implications for privacy — another criticism expected to be addressed via amendment today — were greeted with similar skepticism.
Indeed, the federal privacy commissioner didn't even make the witness list.
The Tory committee members had been unwavering in their confidence that not even a comma in the bill needed changing.

But now it seems that having been 'approved' from above a few minor changes are now to be included. How many of the dozens of other amendments proposed by non Conservative MPs will be even considered let alone adopted at the senate hearings (having been rejected in committee) remains to be seen but one thing is for sure unless approved from above it simply wont happen.

At the moment, it's not clear whether the Conservative contingent will also be advised to throw their majority support behind additional, opposition-backed amendments or vote to reject certain clauses entirely, which would also result in changes being made to the bill.

A similar parliamentary plot twist occurred last spring, when after weeks of doggedly defending every aspect of Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre's controversial bid to revamp Canada's election laws, Conservative committee members found themselves introducing amendments to address precisely the concerns they had dismissed as unfounded.
One must ask the question do ANY of these Conservative MPs have a functioning brain or are they just a satellite mouthpiece of the PMO?

The biggest threat to Canadians and Canadian Democracy is not “terrorists” but Stephen Harper and his Conservative Regimes unthinking support of his desire for absolute unlimited power and control.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

Mannequins can be made to stand or sit on cue, Rural. Their only purpose is to serve as window dressing.

Lorne said...

The Conservatives are right to fear Elizabeth May, Rural. As I noted the other day on Owen's blog, she is the only party leader who is not afraid to speak the truth, and truth is something the Harperites fear more than anything. That's not to say she isn't viewed with the same fear by Mulcair and Trudeau, since they are also opposing her inclusion in the future leadership debates.

Unknown said...

Rural what a sham these various discussions are about bill C-51 being credible or not. The essence of it is, that it is another unconstitutional piece of legislation put forth to suppress or violate Canadians privacy and control their freedoms.The Harper and companies unconstitutional legislations purpose is to gain and further entrench their power.To ask for amendments for this type of legislation is to concede that its purpose of pursuing power is not really questioned.The question needs to be asked why this dictatorial legislation is even created at all and what is behind it. The opposition and MSM need to ask over and over again what does Harper and his regime gain by continually creating , in a democracy , legislation that suppresses and/or violates Canadians rights and freedoms.Acknowledging that the legislation does this and wanting it amended is right, but it does not go far enough. They need to ask the tough questions and by doing this Canadians will get a glimpse of what Harper and his minions are really after, power.

Rural said...

It is as Pamela says, all about power, absolute unlimited power! If they can make parliamentary process a meaningless charade and bring it into disrepute in the public view, silence those who speak out about that decline and generally make us all believe that the PM is all that matters then he has succeeded. As Lorne says Ms May is equally feared by the other parties even as they admire her work in the HoC.