Sunday, June 13, 2010

Making Parliament Work?

Whenever the question turns to Parliament functioning, the standard line from every Conservative- we have shown a capacity to work with all parties to get things done, look at the record. You hear this argument more and more, as Conservatives highlight examples to blunt any momentum towards the idea that THEY are an impediment to making Parliament work. The reason- should the public conclude that this government is unable to pass legislation, reach compromises with certain parties here and there, it represents a danger on the "change" front. If this government looks incapable, Parliament achieving SQUAT, it provides the other parties, particularly we Liberals, with a powerful counter. If you are dissatisfied with the status quo, then its reasonable to argue that the Conservatives have failed, we need to try an alternative. I don't doubt for a second Conservatives are weary of this potential sentiment, hence the consistent talking points whenever the subject of Parliamentary failure arises.

This news item provides the opposition with a very damning indictment:
Parliament stumbling to a close with virtually nothing accomplished

One of the most unproductive sittings in Canadian legislative history is sputtering to an end...

Parliamentary expert Ned Franks says he can't recall another legislative sitting that has accomplished so little.

“There might have been (but) I have no record of it,” says the political scientist...

Clearly, Canadian parliamentarians are lagging well behind the normal pace this year. But then, as Mr. Franks observes, “This Parliament isn't functioning like a normal Parliament.”

He blames a government that “views Parliament as the enemy” and opposition parties that “oppose indiscriminately” everything the government does.

One of the most unproductive, if not THE, sessions in Parliament's history. Add on to this fact, that part of the failure is due to the prorogation, many bills starting from scratch, and the government is vulnerable. Harper has used dysfunctional Parliament before to justify, and take partisan advantage, but at some point Canadians must wonder who really deserves the blame. To coin an overused phrase, what about "the buck stops here"? The opposition is obstructionist, no question, but even that posture is still tethered to the government's behavior, approach, failings. Rather than justification for another mandate, a majority even, what the above article highlights is that good government is now impossible with this crew. It's almost laughable to suggest you deserve more power, given the record.

If the Liberals are wise, they should extrapolate the "waste" angle onto this question of taxpayers getting their money out of their representatives. All the wasted money to prorogue, now a session that produced nothing, provides an opportunity to argue for a different government, one that actually accomplishes, works together, brings a spirit we expect. Harper is the problem, and now he can no longer point to supposed bi-partisan success, there is something quite simple about a sound bite that says "least productive Parliament in history". You can quibble, but it never reflects well on the government of the day.

Canada, we have a problem. It's our job to ensure the source answers. I see a government on the defensive all day long, if played properly.


Jerry Prager said...

Harper came back from the Prorogue forced to refer to his plan to work through the March break as "lost time" Time is money. Waste and propaganda in the ActionPlanAdscam budget.

Steve V said...

That's the thing Jerry. This story can be traced back to proroguing, all the nonsense about an aggressive agenda, basically you can say Harper shut down Parliament and nothing has happened since. All parties share some blame, but the government is the easiest target and the Libs would be wise to hammer this "worst ever" narrative.

A Eliz. said...

For one thing Harper does not want to be in the current parliament..Afghan files..trouble, and the Auditor Generals in September on their spending/