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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Pro-Omnibus, Anti-Abortion?

Two things that caught my attention today:
1) The Conservative Government is looking to pass another omnibus budget bill.  The last one didn't just deal with the budget - it included far-reaching changes that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page is still fighting to get details about.  While the bill was widely derided by Opposition and the media, the average Canadian didn't really much seem to care. 
2) Jason Kenney favours Bill M-312 - ostensibly about mandating a Parliamentary Committee (on which the Tories would have a majority and their committee-disruption manual at hand) to decide when human life begins but, come on - it's really about declaring abortion as murder.  Kenney is far from the only Member in the Harper Caucus that is anti-abortion; many of their base is, too.
Kenney is a Senior Pitbull in the Harper team.  He's not beyond using creative means to realize his own personal agenda.  He probably gets to have some say-so on the contents of far-reaching omnibus budget bills, too.
We have a Harper government that, now entrenched with a majority, is testing just how little the Canadian public cares about the functioning of our parliamentary democracy.  They're enacting massive budget bills that cynically include all kinds of things that relate to their partisan agenda and then aren't telling us what those things are.  We have a Tory Caucus, including senior Cabinet Members, who are advocating for policy changes unpalatable to the majority of Canadian voters.
Would Stephen Harper include anti-abortion provisions in an omnibus bill and then bury the details so that the public can't find them?  If I can think of this, you can bet the Stephen Woodworths of the world have as well.  Someone, somewhere, has surely whispered this message in a political ear: come on, the public doesn't care.  The Opposition can't do anything to stop us.  You know it's the right thing to do.  We have the chance, now, we can't afford to lose it.  Put a clause in the the budget bill.  You'll regret it if you don't.
Sound dramatic?  It's also entirely possible, if the Canadian public doesn't start to actively care about how Stephen Harper is abusing our system of democracy.  There will certainly be things in the upcoming omnibus budget bill that don't belong there, but support the CPC's partisan agenda.  If Canadians don't make a fuss about it, we are reinforcing the message that omnibus bills are a great tool for skirting the process and implementing partisan agendas without scrutiny or transparency.  The people with unpalatable notions will seize on that and apply internal pressure to get what they want, whether it's in Canada's best collective interests or not.
This is why we have to start caring.  To paraphrase Burke, all that is necessary for the triumph of small-minded and harmful policy is for the average Canadian to not pay attention.

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