Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stephen Harper's Ingenious Plan to Help Pulp and Paper Mills

Yes, apparently prorogue is the word of the week in Ottawa. This means there are a whole lot of dead government bills out there (James Bowie's got the comprehensive list). This also means that there will be a lot of paper required to print new bills and there you have my post title. I don't really care that Harper's decided the house needs an additional six weeks off and a new throne speech. Unlike Andrew Coyne, I don't see the need for a revolution. The Afghan detainee question is by all accounts a historical question dating back to the period between the first reports of torture (whenever those were) and the changing of the guidelines which seems to be a period between 2006 and 2007. There's nothing that is going to change between now and March on the question of the events of 2006 and 2007. If Harper's proroguing to avoid that question, he's not half as politically shrewd as he looks. Otherwise, proroguing is basically the government taking a blow torch to their own legislative agenda. So, with that in mind, I do want to highlight some bills you probably never knew existed that will now be dead.

First, C-40 was an attempt to increase voter participation. The last day of advance would have all the poll locations of election day. I can't say whether or not this would help turnout. In my experience, advance polls are mostly filled with people who would vote on election day anyway with a couple of regular voters who find themselves unavailable on election day. I suppose having a polling station around the corner on an extra day might help turnout, but I wouldn't expect huge numbers. I would expect the cost of the election to go up considerably this gets reintroduced and passed.

C-61 is a very peculiar bill to kill seeing as it is back-to-work legislation for CN workers. I would have thought they would have rammed this through. There's a joke about trains and timeliness in here somewhere. Who knew Stephen Harper was a union man?

The killing of C-63 I believe delays the plans of the Squamish First Nation out in BC to develop reserve land. As is too often the case in First Nations issues, one step forward, two steps back.

Any plans to sue Al Qaeda in this country will have to be put on hold after C-35 bites the dust. The interesting part of this bill is an amendment to make it possible to sue states who sponsor terrorism in Canadian courts. How you would get them to pay up is another question.

C-23 and C-57 are trade deals with Colombia and Jordan that will now be postponed.

Finally, stop the presses: Stephen Harper kills senate reform! Okay, not really. Just C-30 which would have merged the Senate's ethics overseer with the House's. He is also supposed to be taking the time to complete the tiring task of appointing senators. This apparently requires his undivided attention.


CanadianSense said...

I have read a few posts that JC introduced changes that would not require Bill to take very long and re-introduced from a prorogue.

Are you aware of any changes by JC led government?

Aaron Ginsberg said...

I have no clue. A lot of these bills are just past first reading, so it wouldn't make a huge difference in timing if you could revive it quickly or not. If parliament's coming back early March, you've get to get through a throne speech, you're probably not getting anything passed until the middle of the month. That's two and a half months from now which is a significant delay irrespective of any procedural tricks.

CanadianSense said...

Do you think the PM overplayed his hand in gaining control of the Senate committee who were delaying and gutting the legislation adopted by the house?

Do you think the opposition parties will hold the PM to account for delaying the opening by 28 sitting days?

Happy News Years Day!

Will you be available on the Rossi for mayor campaign? *Curious about Lib blogs in Toronto on Rossi.

Thanks again for your insight from your blog.

Aaron Ginsberg said...

Not really. If it were any other Prime Minister stacking the senate, we probably wouldn't blink. It's only because Harper's supposed to be a senate reformer that he catches flack. The public doesn't care whether or not the house sits in February. The opposition would be foolish to drag him down over it.

As for Toronto, I'm between Rossi and Smitherman right now. I expect that there are a number of Liberals with divided loyalties right now. I'd like to see some ideas. I will say that I'm not thrilled to see Rossi talking about selling assets (Toronto Hydro) to balance the budget. As Ontarians learned under Harris, it's not a long term fix.

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