I spoke to Libby Davies after Question Period today about how things are going in the House right now.
Q: How are things going this session so far? We’ve just come back from March Break.
A: Well tomorrow night we have the interim supply – this vote on the $3 billion so-called ‘blank cheque’ – so we’ll have eight confidence votes tomorrow night, so that’ll be a fairly intense moment in the House, in terms of the budget and the interim supply that’s being voted. I think the Conservatives had a really bad week last week – their ministers were goofing and mucking up all over the place, and so I think they’ve had that to contend with. For the NDP, we’ve announced two task groups of MPs that are going out and doing outreach. What I’ve found over the years is that this place in many ways is a completely artificial bubble zone. We live in this world, it’s very intense, and a lot goes on, but when you go out, and especially if you’re from the west, not much of it filters down. So for us, we feel very positive about the idea of going out and talking to people about the recession, the impacts of the recession, and beyond that – building for a new economy. Basically our financial systems have collapsed, and there’s been unbelievable mayhem, both because of decisions made by people with an enormous amount of power, but because the whole structure itself is failing, so I really feel as the NDP, we have to go out and not only challenge ourselves, but challenge all of us about what does the new economy look like, how do we bring together a green economy, and also an economy that’s based on equal opportunity and equity and not leaving people behind? How do we create a society where there isn’t a growing gap between haves and have-nots? So that’s some of the work that we’re going to be doing in the coming weeks, which I’m personally very excited about.
Q: Friday on Politics, you were talking about the two justice bills. You were saying that they wanted to just pass—
A: The Liberals actually had a proposal originally to fast-track both of them with no debate, not going through committee, and doing it all in one motion for both bills, which was actually unheard of. It wasn’t agreed to. I find it—I was going to say laughable, but it isn’t because it’s serious—but I find it just so curious that anytime we want to debate something, we’re accused of “holding it up” or delaying. Many of the bills are going through at record speed, and some of the bills we have been debating very seriously, like the one before us right now, C-2 on the European free-trade agreement. But the crime bills – they are very substantial bills, and I’ve been following the media very closely, and there is substantive comment in the mainstream media about what these bills are really about, and do they mean anything, will they actually improve people’s safety? One of them is on the mandatory minimum of drugs, the other is on gangs. We’ll be supporting the first bill, we won’t be the second bill, but even the first bill, there are lots of perspectives out there on what’s going on out there with gangs, what is this gun violence all about, what creates it, what should we be doing? And the idea that just tougher laws are somehow going to solve the problem, I think that more and more people are beginning to realise that this is just political optics, and it’s the Conservatives who just push these buttons. So I think we do need to debate it, we need to hear from witnesses – what are the impacts of these changes, what else should we be doing? So I feel very strongly that we’re not just let these bills be rushed though with no debate. They need to have debate, and we need to hear from people.