Mr. Harper would have Canadians believe we were voting for change when we elected (and I use the term “we” very loosely) his Party. And it is his Harper’s party, not Canada’s party. His actions and his Party’s actions speak much louder than his words. Twelve years ago he was condemning the government of the day on every issue he could get his teeth into from business to healthcare. His stance on how he felt the previous government handled business development:
“We have in this country a federal government that increasingly is engaged in trying to determine which business, which regions, which industries will succeed, which will not through a whole range of economic development, regional development corporate subsidization programs. I believe that in the next election we got to propose a radical departure from this.” (Stephen Harper, Global News, February 24, 2002)
Nine years later in 2011 Larry Smith tells the Montreal riding he hopes to win, “If you look across the country, where the Conservatives have had strong representation, a lot of projects have taken place. But it’s normal that you are going to focus on the areas with the people that do support you. That’s part of political life,”. What has changed between Mr. Harper’s comment and Mr. Smith’s? A change of government, nothing else. Regional discrepancies and disparities still go on except the Harper government is more upfront about it as per Mr. Smith’s comment. So if you want to start a business or benefit from federal programs you better be living in a Conservative riding. Welcome to the new democracy!
In 1994 a much younger politician made the following statement regarding omnibus bills as recorded in the Hansard:
“…Second, in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns? We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.” (Hansard, March 25, 1994) And that politician was…Stephen Harper!
Well surprise, surprise another omnibus budget implementation bill to implement a “stay the course” budget. At least that was what Mr. Flaherty had referred to the new budget prior to his departure as Finance Minister. I fail to see how a stay the course budget should need 359 pages. After all a dozen pages could implement a stay the course budget.
What has changed? Easy Mr. Harper has figured out that to stay in power he needs to run roughshod over democracy and the only way to do that is to rewrite rules as he goes along. The other 347 pages of this bill, like the first two omnibus budget implementation bills change or amend almost 40 pieces of other legislation with very few having anything to do with the budget. This bill has been duped the “Harper Government Creating Jobs & Growth While Returning to Balanced Budgets With Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1”. The bill includes issues involving food safety, rail safety, judges, even military ranks — that have nothing to do with the budget. If you want to be self informed read Bill C-31 here.
Many of these are important issues and need to be looked at but why hide them in an omnibus bill? The only reason I can see is a desire to suppress democracy. By hiding these important issues in this trojan horse bill the government will later be able to attack any opposition by saying “well you didn’t support the bill”. It’s not the bill that opposition parties are against, they have already indicated a genuine interest in tackling some of these issues.
However by embedding them with a multitude of other, less palpable issues it is almost impossible to support. By hiding these issues in this trojan horse act the government is actually eroding democracy. What makes this even harder to accept is that this same democracy is being used by Prime Minister Harper on his trip to Europe to create photo ops. Prime Minister Harper is busy using European trip to condemn Putin’s actions regarding the Ukraine as an attack on the democratic process while his government is busy suppressing democracy in Canada. Canadian democracy is under attack by our own government and very few Canadians are paying attention!
What’s changed? Our democracy!
Just one man’s opinion!