The Commons: Of health care promises and marijuana dreams

After a discussion of healthcare pledges of yesteryear, Bob Rae tried to talk drugs–amidst Conservative chuckles

The Scene. Thomas Mulcair wished to pick up where Jack Layton had once left off.

Last June, he reminded, Mr. Layton had stood in this place and asked the Prime Minister to identify the government services that would soon be cut. The Prime Minister, Mr. Mulcair recounted, had then stood in this place and said the government had been “very clear” that it would not cut pensions or transfers to the provinces for programs such as health care.

“Our question is also clear,” Mr. Mulcair finished. “Tomorrow, will the Prime Minister meet or betray his word in this House?”

Though returned to the country, the Prime Minister was not returned to the House. Today’s stand-in was John Baird, who proceeded to chop his hand and jab his finger and speak very assuredly of all that is good and unsullied about his government.

“Mr. Speaker, this government, every year since taking office, has increased support for the provinces for health care, which is a huge priority for middle-class families,” he declared.

“Every single time we have stood in this House to raise funding for health care, the NDP has voted against it,” he lamented.

“We are not doing what the previous Liberal government did. We are increasing support for health care,” he clarified.

Mr. Mulcair returned to June. ”Mr. Speaker, the very next day, June 8, 2011, Jack Layton asked this question of the Conservative Prime Minister, ‘Will the Prime Minister commit today not to cut services that are key to Canadian families?’ The Prime Minister’s answer was again categorical, ‘Mr. Speaker, of course we will not cut such services,’  ” the opposition leader recounted. “Would the government tell us whether or not the Prime Minister’s word will be respected tomorrow, yes or no?”

Mr. Baird stood and managed to use the phrase “middle-class families” no less than four times in the space of five sentences.

Mr. Mulcair now wished to lecture. “Mr. Speaker, the whole pyramid of public administration exists to do one thing: deliver services to the public. That is the last thing that should be touched, especially when people need help as of now,” he explained. “These cuts will hurt Canadians by denying them the services they need. They will hurt the economy, especially in regions where public servants have a huge impact on the local economy. Does the Conservative government not understand? Or is that it just does not care?”

Mr. Baird had apparently done his homework and was now eager to show off for the class. “Mr. Speaker, this is the member of this House of Commons who, when he was minister of the environment of Quebec, cut spending, slashed spending by more than 15 per cent,” the Foreign Affairs Minister reported. “Now he is going to lecture this government.”

So, apparently, the government’s argument will be that Mr. Mulcair was once more fiscally conservative than it is. But if it is the past we must now argue about, the NDP seems eager to insist that the government should be doing what the government once said it would do.

“The Prime Minister made a single health care promise in the last election: to protect federal transfers. Yet, it took him just eight months to break that promise,” Libby Davies explained once again for the House’s benefit. “Why should Canadians trust a Prime Minister who cannot even keep such a basic promise? Why is he turning his back on Canada’s most cherished institution? Why is he abandoning medicare?”

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq first retreated to her adjectives: Long-term! Stable! Historic! Then to a simplified reading of yesteryear. “Let me just list a few things that the NDP voted against in the last budget,” Ms. Aglukkaq offered, “significant funding to assist the homeless; mental health program funding that would increase health infrastructure for first nations; funding to help treat and prevent those with drug addictions—”

Her time expired, the Speaker cut her off there.

Ms. Davies repeated her concern (“The Conservative plan shortchanges provinces by a whopping $31 billion”). Ms. Aglukkaq returned to her list (“Significant funding to assist homeless people and mental health programs; funding for the Rick Hansen Foundation…”).

It was at this point, of course, that Bob Rae attempted to engage the government in a discussion of 21st century drug policy. The House went quiet as he proceeded through his concerns and the recent findings of various experts.

John Baird duly stood and lamented the Liberal party’s  new desire to legalize marijuana. Mr. Rae protested. “Mr. Speaker, let us have an honest conversation on this issue,” he begged.

There were chuckles on the government side.

The Stats. The budget, 11 questions. Ethics, six questions. Health care, five questions. Military procurement, three questions. Employment, seniors and immigration, two questions each. The environment, natural resources, fisheries, Canada Post and Omar Khadr, one question each.

John Baird, six answers. Ted Menzies and Christian Paradis, five answers each. Denis Lebel, four answers. Leona Aglukkaq, Kellie Leitch and Julian Fantino, three answers each. Jason Kenney, two answers. Dean Del Mastro, Peter MacKay, Peter Kent, Joe Oliver, James Moore, Keith Ashfield, Steven Fletcher and Vic Toews, one answer each.

The Commons: Of health care promises and marijuana dreams

  1. Steven Harper needs to get out of office, he’s hiding from his own government, and hiding everything he does from us, the citizens. This greasy bastard has been sliming around in Parlaiment for far to long. I pray that Bob Rae wins this election. I’m not a marijuanna user but i support legalizing it, the government makes countless amounts of money off of cigarettes and alcohol, with marijuanna in the mix it would just be more money for them and more companies to sue for billions of dollars, like our conservative government loves to do to tobacco companies.
    Steven Harper only won again because he fixed 57 ridings across canada anyway, lets just kick him out. Instead of letting him fix another election let’s just get him out.

    •  ”he fixed 57 ridings across canada”
       
      So how come the Council of Canadians is only contesting the result in 7 ridings?

      Or did the COC make a typo in their court filings and press releases and accidentally type in 7 when they really meant 57?

      • right…..it sounds MUCH better when it’s only 7 ridings he cheated in

        • Whether the Council of Canadians ( a left wing group on the public teat) says the figure is 7 ridings or 257 ridings, it means nothing.

      • Now there’s a damning defence if I ever heard one.  They didn’t cheat as much as Nolan said…

  2. Societies are actually controlled by the people who are the best at being dishonest, and backing that up with violence, in order to serve the organized systems of fraud and robbery that benefit those who were the best at lying about what they were doing.

    Democracy is already almost dead, as is clearly revealed if one follows the money to the source. We have entered into the phase where the magnitude of the lies are becoming sufficiently disconnected from reality that the entire system indicates the decline and fall of our civilization.  Always, the established systems of huge lies, backed up with violence, do very well in the short term, then worse and worse in the longer term.

    We are reaching the tipping points globally, and are approaching those tipping points in Canada, were the triumph of huge lies will destroy our civilization.  The paradox is failure from too much “success” at controlling society with enforced lies.  There is no reasonable hope for the foreseeable future.

  3. The Conservative agenda to build more prisons is not about crime reduction – that project stands discredited by all the evidence and they know it.  But there remains the deeper motivation to do more to punish those who cheat, to do more to punish those who defy the law.  Right wing governments have always relished the opportunity to punish those who are not conservative enough to even obey the law.  It’s a deeply satisfying thing for them to punish, to get revenge and that motivation alone will be enough will to drive their agenda.  Millions of Canadians complain that Canadian sentencing is too lenient, well, the Conservatives will do something about that – even if it doesn’t reduce crime.  Revenge calls them more loudly than human well-being.

    Again right wing governments have always played the purity card whether by promoting racial purity through ethnic cleansing (Nazis and Slavs), religious purity (Iran) or cultural purity (Quebec Separatists and the “pure wool” movement).  The Conservatives believe (with most Canadians) that drugs pollute minds, that drugs corrupt a pure mind.  Those who buy this line are not interested in discussing ways of diminishing drug use except by actions which will demonize those with impure minds.  That’s why the evidence against the war on drugs has no traction with them. And Conservatives reach for this purity, as elsewhere, by harsh ceremonies of purification, through death, imprisonment and humiliation.  Never mind that such drug policies fail – in failure they still produce the need for more purification and that’s always very, very satisfying.  They really don’t want the war on drugs to end.

    • So Quebec separatists are Conservatives, and the PQ party and governments are right wing?  I learn such amazing stuff on these comment boards.

  4. Avoiding a comprehensive discussion of 21st century drug policy is a slap in the face of every man, woman and child in Canada. Such avoidance merely adds insult to the injury of substance abuse issues and the criminalization thereof (those issues). To find anything amusing about it merely demonstrates the unwarranted hubris of those “elected” officials implementing this particular brand of social engineering. It is a candid portrayal of not only the dysfunction inherent in a national anti-drug strategy but also the lengths they, who compel it, will continue to go to in order to retain it. As the dangers inherent in this (Canada’s) national anti-drug strategy, however, become amplified with the implementation of the Safe Streets and Communities Act, it will be increasingly difficult, if not outright impossible, to avoid such a discussion.

    Though Baird’s lament clearly indicates a disconnect from rational discourse into sensible drug policy, especially that pertaining to cannabis, it comes as no surprise. Baird, like most Conservatives, after all, feel it is more than appropriate to punish those who grow and sell cannabis more harshly than paedophiles. Given the Conservatives track record, this too, comes as no surprise, especially in light of the behavioural patterns that have emerged.

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