Elizabeth May on Bill C-38

I didn’t “Go Black” today for two reasons:

1: most days on this blog, I am pretty quiet, so a break from my regular irregular blogging wouldn’t really be noticed, even by my Mom.

2: The technical challenge of “going black” seems daunting for an internet putz like me.

I cannot add anything to the discussion of Bill C-38 that hasn’t already been said. When you have Andrew Coyne and David Suzuki on the same side of an argument, you can be pretty clear something special is going on. So allow me to engage in a bit of hyperbole.

I’m not currently a member of the Green Party, and I did not vote for the Green Party last election. There are times the Green Party has pissed me off, there are other times I thought they were an important voice that needed to be heard. I still think they have the most rational economic plan of any Canadian political party, but never before did I actually think the Green Party could save Canada. Until today.

Elizabeth May stood up in the House of Commons today on a Point of Order. Her speech is nothing short of spectacular. A model for parliamentary behavior, delivered from the very back corner of the house, up in the cheap seats. Our New Westminster MPs have been outspoken and effective in this debate, and We should be proud of them, but it is Elizabeth May who looks to be shifting the conversation.

Everyone who cares about the Environment, who cares about Democracy or the future of the Country needs to read this speech, in its entirety. It is long, but so is our parliamentary tradition. Regardless of what you feel about Elizabeth May or the Green Party; you need to read this. It is a perfectly crafted, well referenced, and clear argument for just how far off the rails this Parliament currently is.

Here is a link to the speech in its entirety: Take the 10 minutes it will take to read it though. It is the least you can do for Democracy. As enticement, here is my extract from her summary

I recall the words of the late journalist, a great Canadian, James Travers. We were both on CBC Sunday Edition in the spring of 2009, discussing the threats to our institutions. He commented that we really no longer have democracy in Canada. He said (and I am paraphrasing) “you can visit Ottawa and what you’ll see is a democracy theme park. The buildings are still there. You can tour Parliament, but you will no longer see democracy.”

I refuse to accept that such is the case. I acknowledge that democracy is not a permanent state of existence. It can be won, as in Arab Spring. And it can be lost. It can be lost through violence; it can be lost through neglect. It does not survive without the constant application of checks on abuse of power. It needs openness. Those things done by stealth invariably breed an unhealthy loss of respect in our democratic institutions. Sunlight is a great antiseptic. The myriad, unrelated pieces of legislation under cover of C-38, should, to respect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, be brought out of the shadows, and be tabled separately, and studied on their own merit. To allow C-38 to masquerade as a legitimate omnibus bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute.

We, as Parliamentarians, must be the bulwark against abuse of power, even in a majority government. Our only shield is our traditions, the Standing Rules, precedent and respect for the same. Our only hope is in a fair judge. I turn to you, Mr. Speaker, without fear or favour, sine timore aut favore, to rule fairly and protect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, to restore public faith in our institutions, and to order Bill C-38, a bill imperfect in form and shape, to be withdrawn pursuant to our Standing Rules.

Reading this speech, understanding what it says, what it means, looking up and reading the references provided, that is my alternative to “going black”. To me it is much more satisfying to read and learn and talk and engage. That is our duty as unelected citizens, and it is the only defense Democracy has.

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