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House of irrelevance


 

Amy Minsky looks at the state of the House.

Now, Canadians are left with a House of Commons where a vast majority of the members have been emasculated, eroded to the point where they often feel they can’t vote with their conscience, Cameron said. “Of course, parliamentarians do more work than sit in Question Period, or stand to vote, but that work is done in committees and caucus meetings, which is less visible to the public,” he said. “So we’ve weakened Parliament, and with it, a pillar of accountability in the system.” 

As a consequence, a certain degree of disengagement, disenchantment and disillusionment with politics has spread among the public. 


 

House of irrelevance

  1. and yet we are annoyed few people cast a ballet?

  2. Terrific – we are getting thousands of articles from Lib msm about how Parliament is irrelevant now that Libs are third party and few care what Bob Rae thinks.  

    Participation in democracy has been declining since 1960s when Canada decided bureaucracies and technocrats were all wise and regular people were dullards not to be trusted. 

    MPs have never been able to vote their conscience – governments hang together or hang separately in Westminster – but the new wrinkle for past few decades is that our MPs are controlled by spin doctors who demand MPs claim that black is white, and white is black. MPs aren’t considered truthful or trustworthy because they aren’t, they lie and cheat for a living.

  3. On the same subject, Manon Cornellier in Le Devoir today :

    …Parmi les projets de loi qui ont traversé l’étape du comité, seulement deux ont été légèrement amendés (à l’initiative du gouvernement), soit le projet de loi omnibus en matière de justice et celui mettant fin au monopole de la Commission canadienne du blé….

    On serait porté à croire que telle est la vie sous un gouvernement majoritaire. Mais non. La tradition jusqu’en 2005 était de tenir compte de ce qui se disait en comités. Un examen attentif des bilans législatifs des trois derniers gouvernements majoritaires libéraux le démontre.Si l’on fait abstraction des projets de loi portant octroi de crédits qui sont une formalité et si l’on ne tient compte que des projets de loi, adoptés ou non, qui ont franchi l’étape de l’étude en comité, on constate que 50 % d’entre eux en sont sortis amendés lors de la première session du premier gouvernement Chrétien. Il s’agit du plus bas taux observé durant le règne libéral. Durant les sessions suivantes, entre 65 et 75 % des projets de loi ont été amendés en comité ou à l’étape du rapport.Les libéraux voudront s’en vanter, mais c’était aussi la règle sous les conservateurs de Brian Mulroney et d’autres gouvernements avant eux. En fait, ce devrait être la norme en système parlementaire britannique. Sous Stephen Harper, par contre, il s’agit de l’exception. Pour l’instant, faut-il espérer.Cette façon de faire est préoccupante, car elle décourage les citoyens et les groupes qui ont des doutes au sujet d’un projet de loi de se présenter en comité. À quoi bon faire de la recherche, rédiger un mémoire, se déplacer si c’est pour parler à un mur? S’il fallait en arriver là, ce serait dramatique, car le gouvernement pourrait alors se vanter d’avoir l’appui de la majorité des témoins et être encore plus sourd aux opinions divergentes.

  4. For those who don’t read French, learn it, but a synopsis…

     Among the bills that have passed the committee, only two were slightly amended, at the request of the government…. One might think that thus is the case for majority governments.  If you remove bills on procurement, you find that 50% of bills were amended during the first session of the first Chrétien government.  This is the lowest rate observed during the liberal tenure.  During the following session, between 65 and 75% of bills were amended in committee.  Liberals may wish to brag about this but it was also the rule under the Brial Mulroney government and other governments before them…

    Under STephen Harper amendments are an exception.  For now, we hope.  This way of doing things is worrisome as it discourages citizens et groups who have concern on a bill to come forward to the committees.  What’s the point of doing research, write a memo, and travel if it is to address a wall?  If we were to get there, it would be dramatic, as the government could then pretend to have the support of the majority of witnesses and become even more deaf to the sound of dissenting opinions.

    • Thanks for the synopsis. I wish my French was at the level where I wouldn’t need it :)

      I think it’s part of Harper’s storyline to make government more irrelevant to the majority of people. 

      • Which eventually paves the way for what Aaron covers in his next post “On the Nortel file, the documents show DND officials were worried last year about how the renovation costs would be perceived. “Media, parliamentarians and Canadians will be focused on the cost to taxpayers for the acquisition of the Campus and the subsequent retro-fit costs,” noted a DND strategy document.”

        When parliament becomes more irrelevant, government becomess less accountable.

  5. ..as intended.

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