Roundup: No, a motion is not a bill

There are days when I despair for the state of politics in this country, and yesterday was certainly one of them. The hysterical outrage by mostly Conservative MPs over M-103 – an innocuous, non-binding private member’s motion that looks to condemn Islamophobia and have the Heritage committee study systemic racism and religious intolerance in this country – was over the top. Apparently said non-binding motion was a backdoor government bill to curtail free speech, bring in blasphemy laws and Sharia Law into Canada, which is news to absolutely anyone who has a clue about how things work in parliament. That MPs were pushing this nonsense means that they either didn’t read the motion, don’t know the difference between a private member’s motion and a government bill, or can’t read, any of which would give one pause as to their fitness for being an MP. The more sinister explanation, that they know full well that it’s a fairly benign motion and they’re using it to blow on dogwhistles in order to further leadership ambitions, is also fully plausible, but perhaps we’ll be generous about deploying it.

And yes, the Liberal MP behind the motion has been subject to all manner of hate since it was tabled, and it’s likely going to get worse between last night’s debate and the second hour, sometime in April. Meanwhile, leadership candidates are fundraising off of it, Kellie Leitch in particular using a post where a photoshopped stock photo was superimposed over a faded photo of the Parliament Hill shooting to signal her opposition to the motion – because dogwhistles gonna dogwhistle. Other Conservatives insist that the motion would be fine if it just dropped the reference to Islamophobia, as though the context of the Quebec City shootings mean nothing and are literally “all lives mattering” to a community that has some well-founded anxieties as populist demagoguery is on the rise. The Conservative caucus is using their Supply Day today to debate a neutered motion that adds other religions, as though that is addressing the problem that was actually being highlighted.

Andrew Coyne, meanwhile, astutely chronicles the kind of populist virtue-signalling that now exists in ostensibly conservative circles that acts more as a dare to others rather than behave in ways that are actually politically conservative and not harmful to our democratic system. Sadly, as this leadership race is proving, principled voices are few and marginalized as Ezra Levant and his coterie get more powerful, while leadership hopefuls now line up to kiss his ring. And yes, that fills me with despair.

Good reads:

  • The European Parliament voted to ratify CETA just before Justin Trudeau arrived in France to address them.
  • The government made another attempt to gut the genetic discrimination bill, and the sponsors (and justice committee) want MPs to vote down their amendments.
  • John Manley’s Canadian Business Council thinks the government should streamline approvals for projects (because that worked so well) and lower corporate taxes.
  • Senator Harder is signalling his impatience with Conservative stalling on the trans rights bill, and this could mean he’ll bring down a closure motion.
  • There are questions about the government putting a Coast Guard up for bid at $25K when they spent over $6 million overhauling it eight years ago.
  • Here’s a conversation with a gay Iranian whose refugee application to Canada was dropped in favour of resettling Syrians.
  • The NDP want Elections Canada to probe Liberal donations for events where ticketed prices legally are above donation limits.
  • Murray Edwards’ aerospace company has issued a “correction” to their lobbying report to corroborate Rona Ambrose’s version of their past interactions.
  • Despite Kevin O’Leary saying he doesn’t support Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his supporters that were polled largely do.
  • Anne Kingston dissects that Instagram photo with Ivanka Trump at the Oval Office desk with Trudeau and her father.
  • Terry Glavin digs further into that Edelman Trust Barometer survey and finds reasons to be optimistic in what it says.

Odds and ends:

Retired senator James Cowan is joining the board of Dying with Dignity Canada.

The PMO’s director of appointments is planning to run in the Markham–Thornhill by-election to replace John McCallum.

Tristin Hopper reminds us that pension plans are less sound these days because people stopped drinking and smoking so much.