Friday, November 18, 2011

Ivison gives the opposition a lesson...

In how parliament works. Apparently the dippers and the grits have not adjusted to having a strong stable Conservative Majority government.

Judging by the response, you'd think they had suspended habeas corpus. "A stunning assault on democracy," frothed Green leader Elizabeth May. "A hijacking of democracy," said Liberal Irwin Cotler.

Mr. Cotler, who should know better, was in full flow. "If we pass these nine bills in their present form - we will have the exact opposite of what we seek: more crime, less justice and more cost," he told the committee.

That may very well be the case - and there are certainly many shortcomings in the crime bill. But his opinion on its worth should not be confused with the government's right to pass legislation on which it was elected. It's not as if the various component bills that make up the Safe Streets and Communities Act have not been debated in Parliament. The bill as it stands has had four days of debate, comprising 16 hours and 53 speeches, not to mention nine days at committee. But much of its content has been hanging around Parliament since the Conservatives were elected in 2006. In total, including review in the Senate, the component bills have had 53 days of debate, made up of 95 hours and 261 speeches, since they were first introduced, according to the House leader's office. Not quite the trampling of democracy the opposition parties suggest.

In fact, most of the legislation in front of the House has been thoroughly aired - bills to modernize copyright, kill the long-gun registry, open up the wheat board, and create more seats in the House of Commons have all appeared in one form or another in previous parliaments.

Almost by definition, the opposition parties don't agree with them - nor should they. But the Conservatives won the right to push through their agenda at the last election, after years of seeing half their bills killed by elections, prorogation and opposition tactics.

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