Saturday, October 20, 2007

Speeches, Crime and Corruption

So with it being Saturday, I thought I’d give a little week in review.

So first of all there was the Liberal reaction to the throne speech. I’m glad to see we’re not going to the polls as I had advocated. I still think the Liberals should have done a coordinated voting down of the speech (with sufficient numbers absent to ensure it passed), but I’m satisfied with the Liberal response. We definitely need to pick our own time to go.

The reaction of the Harper Conservatives to the Dion’s response to the Speech was shameful though. When Harper’s party abstained on the budget in 2005, did the Liberals hoot and holler like children and mock them for it? When the Parti Quebecois voted for Charest’s budget in Quebec earlier this year, did he mock them for it? No in both cases they were commended for helping to make Parliament work and doing the job they were sent there to do. But Harper’s been about the worst Prime Minister in history in terms of civility now hasn’t he?

Then there was the crime bill. When I heard the throne speech I was afraid Harper would actually include the original crime bills in his omnibus bill (many of them were quite draconian and heavily amended by the opposition). Thankfully, he has not done so with at least four of the original bills they've been brought back with all the opposition amendments. So the Liberals should have no problems with the bulk of this crime package as they supported it before once their amendments were accepted. However, there is the dangerous offenders clause in there that could easily be seen as unconstitutional. I think the Liberals should just let this crime bill pass and amend the dangerous offenders clause in committee with a middle ground proposal (the Liberals have already suggested that rather than reversing the onus of proof, have a dangerous offenders hearing be automatic and increase the powers available to prosecutors).

Harper’s actions on this bill show he’s actually not gearing for an election. If he was he would have just brought back all his crime bills in their original form and said no amendments allowed. Instead, he’s actually given Parliament something that’s been largely supported by the opposition in the past. It's a bit of shame that the media don't report this fact though (instead supposedly Harper is "humiliating the opposition" with this crime package). I think in reality, the opposition can push back a little once this bill goes to committee on just the dangerous offenders clause. Harper won’t really want to have an election over a minor dispute over how someone gets classified as a dangerous offender. If he does put up a fuss then he’s the one that would come off looking petty to the Canadian people. So I think cooler heads will prevail on this one and Parliament will carry on.

Our issue to bring down the government will come, but it shouldn’t be this one.

Finally, good to see the Liberals are still keeping the heat on the Conservatives over their election fraud scheme. Also good to see that at least for once it seems the media covered it. Pretty rich of the Conservatives to call themselves “clean” in the Throne Speech, when they’ve got three serious ongoing investigations that have implicated members of their party.

I do think that with Parliament back in session the heat can be kept squarely on the Tories after Harper’s been given a free ride by the media all summer. The Liberals just have to keep up the heat, while drawing attention to our own ideas and then this session will be a success.

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