Thursday, December 09, 2010

Rocking and trampling the House

Rocking the House by night, trampling Parliament by day, high times for the PM, hey?

The latest anti-democratic move is upon us once again. For the second time in a three week period, we are hearing that the Conservatives are going to use their Senate majority to once again defy the will of the elected House of Commons: "Tories axing requirement that all Supreme Court judges be fluently bilingual." Following on the heels of the killing of C-311, the climate change legislation that also had passed the House of Commons, they're back for more. Slightly different tactic this time.
The Conservative government is using its control of the Senate to delay passage of the private-member’s bill, in essence by talking it to death. In doing so, a minority government is employing a constitutionally controversial practice of using the Senate to veto legislation passed by the House of Commons.
This time they will talk it to death, since last time they got a bit too much heat for not even letting the talking begin. Same effect, undemocratic. Their actions are the issue here, make no mistake about it. They will talk about the substance of the bill as justification for squashing it, they will push Senate reform and anything else in an effort to change the channel. Because change it, they must:
In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters: “We don't believe an unelected body should in anyway be blocking an elected body.”
That's the issue and that alone.

Stephen Harper really should be having a Nick Clegg moment of his own. Clegg is the U.K. Liberal Democratic leader whose party poll numbers have caved in the wake of his tuition fee promise reversal. Harper is doing practically the same thing here, totally reneging on his words above.

Last word on this topic to columnist Jim Coyle today with this thought:
The only good to be drawn from the serial assaults on democratic process and procedure — and the contempt shown for institutions and the citizens to whom they are supposed to give voice — is that perhaps a critical mass of disgust is within sight.