A Vigil for Our Budget
Tonight, today, right now, MPs are in parliament for an unprecedented marathon of voting on proposed changes and deletions to the omnibus budget bill C-38. If you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past couple weeks or just don’t find Canadian politics that riveting…then I don’t understand you, but that doesn’t matter just get a coffee, sit down and read this great summary of what C-38 bill is about and why you should be upset about it by Lawrence Martin.
In a majority parliament the opposition is left with few options for stopping legislation that the government is adamant to pass, so sometimes they need to resort to procedural tactics to slow down the process in the hopes that the government will relent. At the very least, the hope is citizens will notice that they their representatives have done what they can, within a flawed system, to look out for their interests.
That the government is adamant is clear:
“The bill is the economic policy of the government. It’s the big plan for the government for the next decade. It’s a generational plan. So it’s not about bits and pieces. It’s about the big picture and that’s why it’s important that we move forward, particularly with what’s going on in the world.”
— Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
That many Canadians disagree is also clear, just take a look at the amazing actions being taken by LeadNow and citizens all across the country. A vigil is being held online and across the country in support of the MPs staying up all night to do something against this fauxmnibus budget bill. Twitter is alive tonight with people staying up, watching CPAC, counting the votes and arguing about what has gone wrong, as well as what will come next. Search for #ourbudget, #13heroes, #C38, or #splititup to see what I mean.
Of course, you might say most Canadians are sleeping tonight, they don’t care. Well maybe they don’t, but don’t mistake that for this not being important. That is the kind of logic the Conservative party uses and wants everyone to accept, something like:
If people don’t care then I don’t need to worry about it.
If the media isn’t covering it, then it’s not important.
If a budget opposition falls in parliament and only a few tens of thousands of people see it and think we lost of bit of our democracy, then nothing is really lost.
Sometimes the most important things look like drips falling on a crack. The crack is growing ever wider and you can’t pick a point when the crack is big enough to be dangerous but each drip makes it worse. It takes courage and strength to stand up and say this dripping has to stop, that the crack will one day ruin this country and we won’t even realize it has happened. Looking back this bill will be one of the major series of drips that explains the gaping cracks in our democracy.
Precedent has already been set, Elizabeth May’s point of order to the Speaker that the omnibus bill was improper fell on flat ears. This implies that future governments have almost no limit on the ridiculous size and breadth that a budget omnibus bill can take. Perhaps a government could literally put all of their proposed bills into one and pass it in a week and then shut parliament. Surely some would argue this would save a lot of money — analysis and debate are expenses we can no longer afford in these troubled times apparently, you know “particularly with what is going on in the world”. I can only assume he means the crisis in Syria?
Time will only tell how much this “generational plan” changes the Canada we all know and love, the one that is so often touted as one of the greatest places to live, one of the most equal, the most reasonable nations on Earth. But those studies all look to our past. What does our future hold? I don’t know, Stephen Harper doesn’t know, LeadNow doesn’t know, even Elizabeth May doesn’t know. Maybe Bob Rae knows since he’s the one bowing out of trying to take on the top job…does he know something we all don’t?
Whatever Canada’s future holds it isn’t served well by limited dissenting voices, reducing government oversight of industry and the environment, reneging on our international obligations and reiterating our nation’s heavy focus on a resource first economy. What facing the future requires is education, knowledge, adaptability and vision. The only people showing vision right now are the opposition inside and outside parliament who are daring to stand up and call a dripping erosion of our democracy for what it really is whether the country and the media want to hear it or not.