The House of Commons rose for Summer Recess one week ago today. As I reflect back on the past six months, I have a couple of interesting observations.
The first is how low key my role was during this Spring Session. Not that I ever have a particularly conspicuous profile, but when the Justice Committee was vetting C-10, the comprehensive “Safe Streets and Communities Act” or when the Public Safety Committee was examining “An Act to End the Long Gun Registry”, I seemed to be at least peripherally involved in important pieces of legislation making their way through Parliament. But with both pieces of legislation through the House by mid-February, my normally high profile committee assignments suddenly became less so.
I did speak in the House on Brian Storseth’s Private Members’ Bill to abolish Section 13 of the Human Rights Code and on the “Budget Implementation Act” but with no high profile Crime Bills on the Order Paper, very little else.
Ironically, I received infinitely more media attention in the last 72 hours than I did in the last 6 months. Admittedly, this was quite unexpected. Normally, my musings on this little blog attract a very limited audience. Although, I stand by my comments, I think they received more attention than was warranted. I suppose it is newsworthy when a government backbencher is seen to be critical of the Ministry. However, it should be axiomatic that government treat taxpayers’ money respectfully. This is so especially in times of fiscal restraint; pointing out the obvious shouldn’t be newsworthy at all!!
Although this spring Parliament passed revised copyright legislation and is revamping our Refugee and Immigration systems, most of the Session was dominated by the Budget and the “Budget Implementation Act”. There has been much criticism of the so called omnibus Budget Bill. In fact there were two small protests outside of our constituency office, events usually unheard of in suburban St. Albert.
I do not share the concerns I have heard regarding C-38; although I have heard them. The arguments that the Bill was too broad and should have been broken up can be made anytime a piece of legislation amends more than one statute. Moreover, the argument that not enough time was allocated to examining the Bill is a nebulous argument. How much time is enough time?? The question is ultimately rhetorical and your answer will depend on your position regarding the legislation. If you support the legislation, you will be anxious to see it proclaimed into law. However, if you are opposed to the proposal, obviously the longer it can be debated, allows for a delayed implementation. We saw many, many, delay tactics in the debate and certainly in the voting before C-38 was ultimately passed. I remain unconvinced that the Opposition was seriously interested in vetting C-38, as opposed to derailing it.
The reality is that all parts of the “Budget Implementation Act” deal with economic stewardship; the so-called disparate clauses and statutes affected are, in fact, related. Moreover, it is an infrequent criticism of Parliament that it moves too quickly!! Good legislation regularly languishes on the Order Paper for months and years and may never be debated much less passed.
Accordingly, when Parliament does move comparatively quickly to take steps to steward a fragile economy, it should be congratulated. My constituents want government to get things done not debate things ad infinitem. However, passing comprehensive legislation requiring marathon voting sessions can be exhausting! I am ready for summer!!