Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A "lost year" in Ottawa

The read of the day given the end of session and that Governor General's bill signing ceremony taking place later today, Helene Buzzetti of Le Devoir breaks down the impact of last year's prorogation on this year's legislative accomplishments. The analysis refers to 2010 as essentially a "lost year" in terms of having to re-do a lot of the work that had been done legislatively in 2009, particularly on the Conservatives' much vaunted crime agenda. They keep hurling accusations at others for holding up that set of laws in particular, yet when you look at the numbers, those accusations seem laughable.

The government introduced 61 bills this year, 33 of which had to be re-introduced since they were lost due to prorogation. Of those 33, only 3 have received Royal Assent. Of the 28 new bills, 5 have received Royal Assent.

There's a bit of a cataloguing done in the report, bill by bill, to show how much delay the Conservatives added into the mix themselves, beyond prorogation. 8 months delay, for example, on re-introducing those bills on enhanced police powers over internet eavesdropping, which has meant little accomplished on those. There are 11 measures, Buzzetti notes, which Conservatives claim as being key pieces of their law and order agenda but which have just made it back to their pre-prorogation stage now. Included among these would be C-16 on ending house arrest for violent criminals, and C-39 limiting the early release of offenders. It's actually bordering on high farce that they're able to get away with all this made-for-TV tough on crime pandering.

All to be kept in mind as a few bills are granted Royal Assent today. The numbers and analysis are excellent reminders but we have a strong sense about all this in any event. Harper is into executive power, not legislative power. And advertising much more than legislating.