Sunday, June 10, 2012

Opposition Budget Tactics probably will be frustrated


Kudos to all the non-Tory MPs in the House for fighting to preserve our democratic traditions, by tabling amendments to the draconian Budget bill.

The Harper government clearly does not really believe in the correct functioning of our Parliamentary committees and the House itself, as we have seen in many cases. Their bundling together of seventy different laws, many of which have anything to do with the budget, in order to fast track their program is yet the latest example of the contempt the Conservatives have for the messiness that a real democracy has.

However, the chances are better than even that the Speaker will order steps taken which will substantially reduce the marathon hearings and allow the government to pass the Budge within days. And the power that he will use is one the Liberal government gave to the Speaker:

To what extent the amendments will bog down the Commons is in the hands of Speaker Andrew Scheer.

Scheer, a Tory MP, has at his disposal a power granted in 2001.

That year, the governing Liberals invested the Speaker with the authority to refuse to allow votes on motions he deemed of a "repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings."

The introduction of that rule followed a series of contentious debates in the Commons that saw Opposition parties introduce thousands of amendments to legislation like the Young Offenders Act and the Nisga'a land claims treaty.

That piece of legislation was stalled by the precursor to today's Conservatives, the Reform Party, which introduced hundreds of amendments, some as simple as requesting changes to punctuation.

So Scheer now has the ability to merely toss some or all of the amendments out. He could also bundle them together for votes.

The ruling on the amendments will set the stage for the week ahead.
However, the damage done to our democracy will linger on, and Harper will face even more concern on the part of our media, which finally seems to have woken up to the real nature of this government.

1 comment :

  1. I find it to be a rich irony that the Liberals introduced the changes that will now let the speaker ignore their desire to stop a government that is out of control.

    In a few years we will see the Conservative moaning and crying over something that a future government does (like proroguing parliament or introducing an omnibus bill) and then the irony will be on the other foot so to speak.

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