Monday, February 12, 2007

What about democracy?

I encourage you all to read this article. As I mentioned in my ridiculously large summary of Friday's legislative proceedings, "I am a little miffed about this as the Liberals often complained during the past sittings of the House that the Tories always adjourned the debate on their bills preventing them from having to vote and take a stand on the issue. I would hope that the Liberals would have the decency to at least vote. I'll give them some grace as maybe it is their intention to bring these bills back for debate as opposed to leave them in limbo as the Tories used to do."

It appears from the article that the grace period is over. Deputy Government House Leader Kelly Lamrock says "[i]t happened more than 100 times with Liberal bills when we were in opposition and that's fair". No, it is not fair. Just because the Tories did it doesn't make it right. Two wrongs do not make a right.

The CBC reports Lamrock's argument as "the opposition had its chance to present the bills, and when it became apparent that none would pass, there was no sense in wasting more time on them." That is a relatively fair point. However, I think that the Tories deserve a vote on these bills, just as I thought the Liberals deserved a vote on their bills when they were in opposition.

This is what happens when bills are adjourned as happened on Friday. A member of the government moves "that the debate be now adjourned". They vote and it passes, as a result the debate will not resume until the person who moved it adjourned stands and resumes it. However, the bill is not passed or defeated, it is just placed in limbo.

It would take just as much time for a member of the government to move "that the question be now put", which would result in a vote and, if that passed, a immediate subsequent vote on the bill. The Liberals would still be able to expediently move through the agenda of the House but instead of locking the Tory bills in suspended animation, they would vote against them and defeat them.

The policy, began by the Tories, and now continued by the Liberals, is a sad combination of a) being too chicken to take a stand on hard issues being brought forward by the opposition; b) shutting down democracy.

Not cool.

PS - The Tories nominated Chad Peters for the Moncton East by-election and the NDP is set to nominate former party president Hélène Lapointe on Saturday.


r551n said...

Perhaps the best solution is a clean sweep of the legislature. Each party is real good at talking about "The People want a change", "It's time for a change", and "Charters for change". In reality, we're just voting in the same old crowd that was always there, with a small turnover. When the election is over, everyone in the Legislature switches chairs, and the game resumes.

If the old MLAs aren't re-elected, they get jobs with the party, and inevitably turn up when their party returns to power. What's the incumbency rate in the NB Legislature, by the way?

Until someone has the stones to take one for the province and reverse the tit-for-tat game, this is how partisan politics will continue to work. Once the Liberals are voted out in four, seven, or ten years, it will most likely be the same story when the Tories take over. Same old grudges, same old results, just everyone plays musical chairs.

nbpolitico said...

What you describe is usually what happens when the party in power changes.

The current House is unusual in that we have a new government with 45/55 (82%) incumbents returned. In 1999 when the Tories took office, only 18/55 (33%) incumbents were returned.

nuna d. above said...

The Liberals aren't doing in government what they said they'd do in opposition? Quick, get my heart pills!