Because they can: Federal government rushed legislation
Good or bad? Does it really matter anymore? This is a question that weighs on the minds of many Canadians. Government legislation (bills) which would normally be put through the proper course of debate in the House of Commons has been miraculously deemed “what all Canadians want” and pushed through the system by using Time Allocation without any regard for the democratic process.
The Conservatives have used time allocation to prematurely stop debate on legislation that could impact Canadians for years to come. Ironically, the Conservatives bitterly complained during the Liberal regime when, on occasion, Jean Chretien used this very same mechanism. At the rate they are going, they will soon exceed any who have governed before them when employing this heavy-handed tactic.
This government has used time allocation 9 times since the last election. The omnibus crime bill and the bill to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board are prime examples of this hurry-up approach. Both are pieces of legislation that will bring about sweeping changes and each, under time allocation, were rushed and rammed through.
The devil-may-care approach on the omnibus crime bill is particularly irresponsible, given that this bill will have huge consequences for the provinces that are constitutionally charged with administering justice. So far three provinces have stirred the pot by indicating they won’t go along with the bill citing the substantial cost associated with the measures as the primary reason.
But despite their protests, the provinces will have to enforce the Criminal Code, which the Prime Minister pointed out when responding to their concerns. We have to ask ourselves if this is the best a parliamentary democracy has to offer when these kind of discussions are not taking place in a committee room studying a bill? That is the biggest problem with rushing legislation through. Debate would certainly have raged outside of Parliament as well, but the federal government gives the provinces more ammunition when it curtails debate in the name of expediency.
We can only speculate what the rush is all about. The only reason I can think of is the ideologically driven agenda of the Conservative government. Democracy is fragile at the best of times. With a Prime Minister using almost “dictatorial” powers it becomes even more untenable.
For Canadians, only time will tell what effects this will have. We can only hope that regret does not become the one thing that unifies us all during this fast-paced Parliament and severely-out-of-touch Conservative government.
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.