Voting lasted 22 hours while MPs organized themselves into groups to insure they always had enough voters on the floor at any given time. They were permitted nothing on the floor but water, though Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau (LPC) admitted to sneaking candy in on Twitter and there were complaints that an MP (or several) had brought in coffee.
As far as I know, none of the amendments put forward were passed and the Conservatives voted together without breaking ranks. At least, I saw earlier comments of the same, but never saw later confirmation.
The budget includes such measures as raising OAS age to 67, cutting off EI if an individual does not take a job that the the Minister of Human Resources deems “suitable”, repealing the federal fair wages and fair hours of labour act*, removes federal contractors from the protection of Employment Equity Act and on and on.
It also removes habitat protection from the Fisheries act and gives final say of pipeline project approvals to Conservative Cabinet ministers regardless of environmental impacts and dismantles many environmental protections and acts.
And on, and on.
871 amendments were put forward by both the Opposition and by Elizabeth May which slowed the bill’s passing. Nathan Cullen, Opposition House Leader said, “If we had simply allowed this government to pass this bill without any inconvenience at all, the lesson they would have taken away and Canadians would have taken away is that Parliament is less important than it really is,” and in another interview commented that this is how one responds to bullies. They push you, you push back.
A Majority Government in Canada appears to mean: If your party lost, you still get a voice, but forget the paltry idea that this voice means anything.
So, I’m a little disheartened today. One cannot expect grand sweeping changes from the Opposition parties in a Parliament like this, but one can certainly feel just a little weary to realize that all that effort results in what appears to be the same bill sent to the Senate on Monday.
Here’s to getting the Conservatives out in 2015. Here’s to changing our voting laws so 38% of the vote does not decide 100% of the laws. Here’s to a Canada where socialism isn’t a bad word and “protecting the economy” doesn’t mean giving workers less rights, and our environment less protection. Here’s to change. It’s coming.
* This law requires contractors who have been awarded federal government construction projects to pay their workers the prevailing wage in the region as well as overtime.
And to those Conservative MPs who initially spoke out against the bill but then fell in line with their party — I hope they feel ashamed of themselves for the rest of their lives.
This creates a good segue for me to say part of what I edited out of the original post. (thanks!)
That the Conservatives, by and large appeared to vote down all the amendments unanimously is deeply scary to me. It means that either: everyone has drunk the kool-aid, which is probably true in some cases (after all, they are the same party because, in theory, they share ideologies and a view), OR that they are so afraid of reprisals, they are not permitted to vote against party lines, which is likely true in some cases as well.
And I know there is an expectation that you vote with your party, and I know the Conservatives are not the only party which has policies which punish members for voting against party line, but I personally feel like MPs should be able to vote based on their opinions - after all, they’re supposed to represent their riding’s interests. Not just their party’s.
This, of course, represents Mei’s Utopia of Idealism where Democracy Works and Pigs Fly.