Roundup: Motion 6 regrets

With a tiny bit of time and distance from the ridiculous events of this week, attention is turning back to the procedural shenanigans that got us to the frayed tempers in the first place. While the Liberals promised an era of fewer procedural tactics when being sworn in, in reality it was a petty dumb promise to make because let’s face it – sometimes it’s tough for a government to get their agenda through a House of Commons that doesn’t like some of their plans, and the opposition isn’t going to go along with them. It’s not their job to, and our system is built to be adversarial in order to keep the government accountable. On the other hand, there is so much hyperbole being applied to what Motion 6 was, and what the Liberals attempted to do with it, that we need to apply a little bit of perspective sauce. For starters, while Peter Julian rants and rails about how “draconian” the motion was, those in the know on the Hill know that he is very difficult to work with as a House Leader. In fact, the word “impossible” has been thrown around if you ask the right people. And sometimes that means using a heavier hand to work around. Rona Ambrose complained that Motion 6 took away “every ability” for the opposition to hold the government to account, but I’m not sure that dilatory motions are actual accountability. They’re protests, certainly, but that’s not necessarily accountability, so points for hyperbole there. And yes, this is a problem of the Liberals’ own making, promising infinite debate on an infinite number of bills, until they ran into a bunch of deadlines that made infinite debate a problem. And we need to remember that time allocation can be a perfectly appropriate tool when used appropriately. Did the Conservatives over-use it? Yes, because Peter Van Loan was an inept House manager, and the NDP refused to let any debate collapse, which made it a regular tool. And every debate does not need to go on forever. There is no genuine reason that there needed to be 84 speakers at second reading for the assisted dying bill. None. Particularly when virtually every one of those interventions was reading a script that said 1) This is a deeply personal issue; 2) What about palliative care?; and 3) Conscience rights, conscience rights, conscience rights. That does not need to be repeated 84 times at the stage of debate where you deciding on the merits of the bill. It’s noble that the Liberals were as accommodating as they were, but in this case, the opposition demands that everyone be heard – and not during extended hours – is actually unreasonable. Likewise, when LeBlanc started the time allocation motions, it was to head off NDP procedural trickery around Bill C-10, which they are perfectly justified in doing. And now that the government has backed off from Motion 6 (which I maintain was likely the nuclear option they were presenting to try and force the opposition parties back to the negotiation table for timetables around bills, and I doubt their tales that they were cooperative given the personalities involved), we’re going to see an increased hue and cry any time a future time allocation motion is brought forward. The Liberals, by combination of a dumb promise of infinite debate combined with their tactical ham-fistedness, have hampered their own future attempts to get bills passed in a timely manner. This will make things even more difficult going forward, as more planks of their ambitious agenda get unveiled.

Good reads:

  • People have been hurling abuse at Ruth Ellen Brosseau following The Elbowing, even though it was her caucus colleagues and not her engaging in histrionics.
  • Vancouver’s mayor is vowing opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline, which received provisional approval from the NEB.
  • Charges against retired Senator Mac Harb have been withdrawn. The only senator still facing charges remains Patrick Brazeau.
  • What’s that? More allegations of bullying and harassment in the RCMP, this time in its witness protection division? You don’t say!
  • Dean Del Mastro’s cousin was acquitted on election financing charges.
  • Here’s a look at the chair of Bill Morneau’s economic advisory council.
  • Jonathan Kay praises Canada’s superiority in part because we are avoiding the turn to nativism that is plaguing so many other countries.
  • Robyn Urback is unimpressed with the logic that Maryam Monsef applies to her arguments against a referendum on electoral reform.
  • More reaction to the opposition overreaction to The Elbowing from Scott Reid, Scott Gilmore, and Andrew Coyne.

Odds and ends:

Apparently a special protocol was developed in the event that Harper needed to be taken to a hospital from his summer residence at Harrington Lake.

I once again compiled this week’s The Gargoyle column for the Citizen, and talked Senate QP, cameras, and of course, The Elbowing.