The House is unanimous about Venezuela

Rodrigo Abd/AP

Rodrigo Abd/AP

From time to time, the House of Commons comes to unanimous agreement. Behind the scenes, the parties hash out wording amenable to all involved and nobody raises a stink when the motion comes to the chamber. Parliamentarians spent some of the week adopting a unanimous response to the Venezuelan unrest that’s led to protests in the streets and even civilian deaths.

The parties eventually got there, but it was a bumpy ride.

Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis obviously felt an urge to condemn the Venezuelan government. He didn’t want to wait for his colleagues, and presented a motion in the House on Wednesday.

That the House condemn the brutal, repressive government measures toward peaceful civilian protesters in Venezuela and call on the government to inform President Nicolas Maduro that the people of Canada stand with Venezuelans in their right to peaceful protest; that the Maduro government release all those detained during the protests; and that all government interference with the peaceful protesters should cease immediately; that those people who perpetrated the violence should be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law; and that in the event the government of Venezuela continues to suppress peaceful protest, the Government of Canada should examine further measures to express its displeasure with these actions.

Karygiannis received no unanimous consent on the motion. Neither NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen nor Government House Leader Peter Van Loan was impressed. They insisted that negotiations continued, and the House would soon hear a polished motion.

Oddly, seconds later, NDP MP Helene Laverdière pitched her own wording, which was also denied unanimous consent.

That the House express its deep concern at the escalation of violence in Venezuela; convey its condolences to the families of those killed or injured during the ongoing public protests; ask the Government of Canada to urge Venezuelan authorities to proactively de-escalate the conflict, protect the human rights and democratic freedoms of Venezuelan citizens, release all those detained during the protests, immediately cease all government interference with peaceful protesters, and ensure that those people who perpetrated the violence be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law; encourage the Government of Canada to play a leading role in supporting a political dialogue in Venezuela that respects legitimate grievances and differences of opinion; and call for an end to divisive rhetoric and actions that only delay and jeopardize the inclusive political solution that the Venezuelan people deserve.

On Thursday, Karygiannis was back on his feet. He’d modified Laverdière’s motion, apparently, and read it aloud in the chamber. The text was almost the same, save for occasional re-phrasing, and the explicit inclusion of the “Maduro government” in a clause.

That the House express its deep concern at the escalation of violence in Venezuela; convey its condolences to the families of those killed or injured during the ongoing public protests; ask the Government of Canada to urge Venezuelan authorities to proactively de-escalate the conflict and protect the human rights and democratic freedoms of Venezuelan citizens; that the Maduro government release all those detained during the protests, that all government interference with the peaceful protesters should cease immediately and that those people who have perpetrated the violence should be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law; encourage the Government of Canada to play a leading role in supporting a political dialogue in Venezuela that respects legitimate grievances and differences of opinion; and to call for an end to divisive rhetoric and actions that only delay and jeopardize the inclusive political solution that the Venezuelan people deserve.

Again, Karygiannis was denied consent. Again, Cullen and Van Loan replied that acceptable wording was on the way. Cullen accused his Liberal colleague of grandstanding. “I hope that it is not in some effort to be denied so that he can issue a press release,” he said.

Finally, today, after Question Period came to a conclusion, NDP MP Paul Dewar stood in the House. Dewar, the party’s foreign affairs critic, wondered if the House might accept the following words—which, it’s worth noting, are basically identical to Laverdière’s motion.

That the House express its deep concern at the escalation of violence in Venezuela; convey its condolences to the families of those killed or injured during the ongoing public protests; ask the Government of Canada to urge Venezuelan authorities to proactively de-escalate the conflict, protect the human rights and democratic freedoms of Venezuelan citizens, release all those detained during the protests, immediately cease all government interference with peaceful protesters, and ensure that those people who perpetrated the violence be brought to justice and bear the full weight of the law; encourage the Government of Canada to play a leading role in supporting a political dialogue in Venezuela that respects legitimate grievances and differences of opinion; and call for an end to divisive rhetoric and actions that only delay and jeopardize the inclusive political solution that the Venezuelan people deserve.

And the House provided unanimous consent, proving that, if they work really hard at it, they can speak with one voice about foreign crises—unless they’re talking about Ukraine.




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The House is unanimous about Venezuela

  1. Well, the USA has to impose order by thrashing the Caribbean again.
    Grenada’s been done … Turks and Caicos, anyone ? Medals will be
    awarded.

  2. Pingback: Jim Karygiannis resigns

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