COMMENTARY · 24th October 2012
Senator James Cowan
The Conservatives does not respect our democracy – they do not respect the views of Canadians. They have no interest in hearing from Canadians. They have decided that they know what is best - and they are going to impose their will upon Canadians.
Parliament, they have decided, needs to be sidelined – ignored. It used to be a place where serious issues were debated, where the nation’s business was taken care of. No longer.
Yet again, the Harper government has tabled an omnibus budget bill – this time 443 pages that amend everything from the Navigable Waters Protection Act to the Canada Labour Code. By combining completely unrelated measures in a single massive bill, the Harper government is hoping that many of the provisions will not be noticed, or that Canadians’ outrage will be buried – today’s news story, forgotten tomorrow.
What is the government afraid of? What are they afraid Parliamentarians – and Canadians – will discover if the bill is given the proper scrutiny its provisions deserve?
While in opposition, Stephen Harper complained about a 21-page omnibus bill, saying “the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles…it will be very difficult to give due consideration to all relevant opinion.”
In opposition, a 21-page bill was offensive. Now he tells Canadians a 443-page bill is just right.
Other countries limit legislation to a single topic or subject. In the United States, 42 of the 50 state constitutions have articles prohibiting excessive omnibus legislation.
Recently the Liberal opposition in the House of Commons proposed a motion to place reasonable limits on omnibus bills. The Conservatives refused and voted that motion down.
Canadians expect Parliamentarians to do their job – to scrutinize legislation, to listen to Canadians, to seriously debate proposals, and to make changes where changes are necessary. That is how the best laws are made. The Harper government knows that it is very difficult for Parliamentarians to do their jobs properly when presented with omnibus bills, and that is why it has become addicted to them.
This isn’t how Canadians expect their government to work. We all deserve better.
It is time to deliver a message to the Conservative government: respect our democracy, and respect Canadians. No more abusive omnibus bills.
Senator James Cowan
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
When I was young.
Comment by John Taylor on 26th October 2012
"We all know." By Terry, is an excellent comment.
When I was young in the early '50s to be a good citizen was hugely important. To lead by example was expected. To obey our laws and to do our duty was expected. To work hard and contribute to our country's well being was expected.
We were taught these things by our parents (or guardians), our teachers, and especially by our political leaders. We had respect! We had a future.
And now; We are fracked! There IS nothing we can do! The country that we built (to this point) has been usurped by a political mafia.
We citizens have become mere pawns, to be sacrificed to make way for the knights and the bishops and the rooks to move in support of the queen (who is often sacrificed herself) and ultimately The King.
Anarchy has a cruel ring to its sound. But in the game, sacrifice has a place.
We all know
Comment by Terry on 24th October 2012
How about our last election ? Was it not stolen ? We can all see our democracy being destroyed . What can we do ? Where are all the Canadians on parliament hill? Criminals get medals for invading womens clinics . Convicted foreign criminals get special treatment by our immigration minister. Conrad black is a criminal with free reign to further damage our country and our diminishing reputation thanks to a rouge government that does not represent Canadians . What can we do ? How many Canadians are there in the senate ? From where we sit not very many . There seem to be fewer Canadians in the Harper government . Oh Canada . We can't even trust the food we eat . Ottawa has as much if not more rotten meat in it than excel foods in Alberta . Rotten from the head down .
And no more secret trade deals.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 24th October 2012
Such as FIPA which you can read about in an article entitled "China Investment Treaty: Expert Sounds Alarms in Letter to Harper". written by Gus Van Harten, Osgood Law Professor " The link is here: