Just shy of fisticuffs: Politics on TV, Dec. 5 edition

Pundits and politicos talk about the near brawl in the Commons

Message of the day

“Canada needs to send a message to human smugglers.”

Hot Topics

  1. An escalated argument in the Commons
  2. Human trafficking
  3. Sex-selection abortions
  4. Double bunking

Questions not answered

  • Will the government add resources to the Stanstead border crossing?

Fisticuffs (almost) in the Commons:

An argument on the floor of the Commons between Peter Van Loan, Thomas Mulcair, Nathan Cullen and others, appears to have nearly turned into a brawl. Cullen turned up on Power Play, where he told Don Martin that it stemmed from the use of “unparliamentary language” (described here and here) by Van Loan when he came over to their side after a procedural matter that was raised because Flaherty wasn’t there for a vote moved under his name, which the Speaker ruled against the NDP on. Cullen said it did not make sense for Van Loan to be upset. He said Mulcair told Van Loan not to threaten his house leader, and that he plans to talk to the Speaker about it.

Also on Power Play, Megan Leslie said that it’s not acceptable to call it “boys being boys,” and that “it’s not cool,” while Rodger Cuzner said nobody was in the right.

On Power & Politics, Rick Dykstra intimated that Mulcair did the very same thing to Gerald Keddy three years ago, and that Mulcair’s temper is a problem. When Cullen was up on Power & Politics, he disputed the assertion that Mulcair used his own intemperate language.

On P&P’s Power Panel, Jennifer Ditchburn said it was a matter of too much testosterone, and wondered why Van Loan was so upset over a procedural complaint. Ian Capstick said we can be thankful for Paul Dewar and Peter MacKay for keeping the peace. Tim Powers said that they are frustrated with one another after several hours of voting and being cooped up in the House together the night before, while Stephen Carter said this shows that politics is a human game, where people and their feelings are involved.

Human trafficking:

Power & Politics spoke with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who explained the human smuggling ring that ran from Romania, through Mexico and the U.S. to reach Canada. Kenney said  he doesn’t believe any of the 85 people arrested were the smugglers themselves, but at least half of the adult migrants are wanted for other criminal charges. Kenney said that he doesn’t know if these smuggled migrants are Roma, and that if they are determined to be legitimate refugees, that they will be let out of detention.

Kenney was later on Power Play, where he added that many of these operations were putting the smuggled refugee claimants into criminality as a means of making money, and that if they are deemed admissible refugee claimants, they will be unable to sponsor other family members for five years, and could be sent back if conditions in their country of origin improve.

Power & Politics’ own MP panel of Rick Dykstra, Randal Garrison and Kevin Lamoureux took on the issue, where Garrison said that their MP from Stanstead has been raising this issue for a while, but the government has done nothing about it. Garrison said that Kenney’s “deterrence” measures are inadequate, and that they should be going after the smugglers and increasing border security. Lamoureux said that the new two-tier refugee system raises a number of problems, and that they shouldn’t make human smuggling victims into double victims. Dykstra kept to the party lines about how they were sending a message to smugglers.

Former Assistant Director of Intelligence at CSIS, Ray Boisvert, was on Power & Politics to explain how these kinds of human smuggling operations work. Boisvert said that these kinds of operations always prey on vulnerable groups, who become indebted – usually in perpetuity – to the smugglers. Boisvert said he worries terrorists could use these same networks.

When P&P’s Power Panel weighed in, Ditchburn said that one needs to look to Britain and some of the problems with refugee claimants in detention, and that there is an additional problem with children being detained or separated from their parents. Powers said that the new legislation is a step in the right direction, and that those immigrants who come to Canada in legitimate ways are in favour of these measures. Carter said the victims are being punished along with the perpetrators, and they need to be put through a due process. Capstick said that the police did the right thing, and that it was really a theft ring that they shut down, which Kenney inserted his refugee bill story into.

Sex selection abortions:

On Power Play’s MP panel, Kerry-Lynne Findlay reminded Martin that private members’ business is a privilege that MPs exercise even if it’s not a comfortable subject, and that the government has no intention of re-opening the debate. Megan Leslie said that you can’t be halfway pro-choice, and that doctors and medical ethicists should deal with it on their own. Rodger Cuzner noted that it’s only the Conservatives bringing this up, and that most provinces have regulations about not announcing the sex until the third trimester, when abortions usually don’t take place.

When P&P’s Power Panel gave their thoughts, Ditchburn noted that the PMO is clamping down on this as an abortion issue rather than one about discrimination against women and girls. Powers said that while there is some need for discussion on the issue of sex-selection, the opposition will nevertheless try to make partisan hay about it. Carter noted that we don’t get to choose the criteria on which people make a choice on when it comes to being pro-choice. Capstick said that he doesn’t think it’s an attempt by the government to limit abortions, but rather an attempt by the pro-life caucus to whip up fear in order to raise money.

Double bunking:

Power Play spoke with Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers about the issue of double bunking in prisons, and documents that show that Corrections is looking to make double bunking standard policy. Sapers says that the rate is as high as one-in-five across the country, and close to fifty percent in some Prairie institutions, and that there has been a subsequent increase in lock-downs, use of force, and more pressure on population management.

Worth Noting:

  • Alberta’s Intergovernmental Affairs minister Cal Dallas said that rejecting the Petronas deal would send a bad signal to the markets, and that he’s opening an office in Ottawa to ensure their message gets heard by both the government and other ambassadors.
  • Conservative MP Terrence Young said that a lot of work has to be done on the issue of drug safety in Canada, as adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in Canada, and the drug companies won’t release needed data.
  • Bob Fife said that the Senate Board of Internal Economy takes a Senator’s word for it when they claim a principle residence, even though that’s no longer acceptable in the current day and age.

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