1 min

Suffocating debate and accountability

The contempt with which Conservatives are
treating Parliament scored another couple of hits yesterday. First of all,
they moved time allocation on the budget implementation bill. You know, the
bill that they introduced and started debate on while the finance committee and
all the finance critics were out of town doing pre-budget consultations. So
they have ensured that 650 pages of budgetary changes will get no substantive
or informed debate, even though there may be some
substantive issues with the bill, such as the fact that their small-business
hiring-tax credit won’t actually apply to most small businesses, or that their
other tax credits are non-refundable, so they won’t actually help low-income
people. But no – it gets rammed through.

Add to that, they put the public accounts
committee into a closed-door session and used their majority to kill most of
the outstanding investigations there – military helicopter overspending, the
half-million-dollar severance package (complete with nondisclosure clause) for
the former public safety integrity commissioner, or the mismanagement of
Parliament Hill renovation contracts. All killed. Because this is the party of
accountability and transparency.

The other bill they’re ramming through with
time allocation – the omnibus crime bill – has now been given a price tag of
$78.5 million over five years. Or so they claim. Oh, and those are federal
costs, not those being downloaded to the provinces with all of the
two-years-less-a-day mandatory minimum sentences that put people in provincial
jails. Small surprise that the parliamentary budget officer is calling the
two-page costing document “total obfuscation.” Accountability and transparency,

Unhappy with expert testimony that
says quadrupling the cost of getting a pardon will have a detrimental impact on the
rehabilitation of convicts, the Conservatives got a bunch of victims groups and
paraded them before consultations on the changes, to lend credence to their
model of retributive justice.

As mentioned in QP and elsewhere yesterday,
the government announced it wants to include warning labels on energy drinks,
and here is the story of that Canadian family detained in Saudi Arabia.

And Stéphane Dion is warning New Brunswick’s
premier about the dangerous constitutional implications of his decision to
support Harper’s Senate “reform” bill.

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