I had a bit of a funny pass through my Facebook News Feed today.
It was a cartoon of a bunch of people in a room, and the caption was something like… Quick, Canadians are all watching the Olympics, let’s talk about election reform.
I snickered not just because it was funny, and I thought it was funny, but because it was true. The sad part is the joke is being played on us.
I have some qualms about some of the items in the 247 page bill that Pierre Poilievre dropped on the House just the other day, but there is some good in there as well. My biggest issue is in the way this bill was presented and the “debate” that has followed it in the House of Commons.
Some of the members in the House have said that traditionally, a bill of this importance would have been discussed by all the Parties in meetings or committees and that each Party would have the opportunity to have their input and hear the reasoning behind what the government was proposing be in there. There would probably have been invitations to people involved like the Head of Elections Canada and others who are knowledgeable about our electoral system. None of this happened.
Poilievre says that he had a meeting with Marc Mayrand, the Head of Elections Canada to which Mr. Mayrand and Elections Canada said never happened. Apparently they did meet, but that was some time ago and it sounds like that meeting was not considered a discussion of what should be in this bill, according to Mr. Mayrand, but rather a more general discussion about how elections should be run and possible changes.
Think about it.
The bill was introduced by Poilievre on February 5th at 3:30 pm and the ensuing debate lasted until about 5:30 pm.
By 1:10 pm On February 6th, the very next day, Peter Van Loan rose to move that Time Allocation be applied to the bill and by 6:15 pm on the 10th, the bill passed Second Reading and went to committee. The government wants the bill back in the House by March 1st.
It doesn’t seem very Democratic to me.
The Harper Party is telling us that Democracy is only 30 days long and happens every 4 years or so during the election period. They have it wrong.
The vote is not Democracy.
The Election is not Democracy.
The campaign is not Democracy.
These are all parts of it, but no one thing is Democracy.
The Harper Party side seems to believe that once the votes are counted, that the winning side no longer has any responsibility to act Democratically. What they don’t get is that the people that we elected are our representatives and it is their duty to ask questions that are pertinent on our behalf. The shortened timeframe made it almost impossible for any of us to digest what is in the bill and to let our Parliamentarians know our feelings and to have our input considered in the House. And heaven forbid that your MP is a Harper Party member, unless you side with him or her all you’ll get is lip service if you’re that lucky.
The way our Democracy is supposed to work is that a Prime Minister selects people who will make up his Cabinet. That group is called “the government”. Everyone else is a Private Member. The government’s job is to produce legislation and the Members debate the bills. They are supposed to hold the government accountable.
It is not supposed to be Blue Team, Orange Team, Red Team, and so on. It is supposed to be People making the government prove its case that a bill is a good one.
I almost laughed when I scanned the “debate” on the Election Reform bill and saw none other than Ted Opitz stand up to laud the actions of the government to end vouching. You may remember Ted took his case to the Supreme Court to avoid losing his seat after a court threw out a number of votes, enough votes to call the outcome of the election into question… not because there were “vouched for” votes but because the paperwork wasn’t properly filled out.
Didn’t we send Ted to the Ukraine to oversee the elections there too? *sigh*
This isn’t a case of passing legislation. It’s a Blessed railroad job.
We don’t know who thought up these proposed changes other than Poilievre brought it to the House. Most of us have no inkling of what these changes really mean, and that includes the people sitting in the House voting on it.
Most of us know that when things get rushed they tend to get messed up. That goes for baking a cake or bringing in laws.
Poilievre had 18 months to talk with the Opposition, with elections experts, with everyday people… but he chose not to. Instead he has chosen to ram who knows who’s ideas of what the reforms should be through the House using the same tools they foist on us every time (it seems) they want something passed.
If I make it sound like this is pretty much a done deal, I think it is. We’ve seen in the past when the Harper Party has rushed bills through the House. When they get to Committee any attempts at amendments are shot down without any real debate. That and the enormous amount of time these Committees spend in camera… behind closed doors.
Yes we’ve seen this, even to the point where the Harper Party realized that a proposed amendment that they killed was necessary and order the Senate to amend the bill for them. Rush jobs.
I’m reminded of a sign I saw in a computer shop. “You can have it fast. You can have it cheap. You can have it right. Choose any Two.”
Looks like the cutbacks have hit this sign too. The only thing we’re going to get is fast. Until the lawyers get hold of it, and it certainly won’t be cheap.
And guess who gets to pay the tab.
Think about it. BC