Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Neutering Parliament


If you want to know how irrelevant Parliament has become, Scott Clark and Peter Devries write, consider what has happened to the budget consultation process:

In the past, pre-budget consultations took place outside the Finance Committee and the minister’s “public” pre-budget consultations. They were run by the Department of Finance as part of a normal process of policy development leading up to delivering recommendations to the minister.

Under the previous government — the first one to ask the Finance Committee to seek the views of Canadians on the upcoming budget — the minister of Finance would appear before the committee in person, present updated economic and fiscal projections and lay out potential challenges for budget planning. The last time a minister presented such an update to the committee was … 2006.

This year, the Harper government announced a surplus and then announced it had been spent on tax cuts -- primarily income splitting. Under Magna Charta, the chief function of Parliament was defined as reviewing and approving public expenditures. The Harper government has, quite simply, neutered Parliament. As Clark and Devries observe:

It’s just another front in the Harper government’s campaign to turn Parliament into a machine for voting money — obediently, silently and blindly. After all, what’s the point of consulting on how to spend money you’ve already spent?


Rural said...

Indeed Owen, there is no longer even a pretence of consulting or listening to those who have been elected to represent our interests, even those who were elected under the Conservative banner simply do as they are told by the inner circle. Looks an awful lot like a oligarchy bordering on a dictatorship to me......

mogs moglio said...

"The Harper government has, quite simply, neutered Parliament."

Owen I would be embarrassed to be a con MP I would have crossed the floor to be in opposition like Brent Rathgeber long ago I do not like one man shows unless they are comedians or game show hosts.

Owen Gray said...

Michael Harris said in a recent speech that, when Bill Casey accused Harper of unilaterally changing the Atlantic Accord, Harper told him, "The words mean what I say they mean."

That statement captures who the man is, Rural, and what his government stands for.

Owen Gray said...

Harper would be a failure in either of those professions, Mogs. But, to date, he's been able to keep his day job.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Another example Owen of the consequences of a tyranny in the making. I really like your Vaclav Havel quote today.

Owen Gray said...

It should be pretty clear by now, Pam, that we're dealing with a tyrant.

greg said...

Just wondering. Off topic. I want to donate to an environmental organization. Is there one in particular you like. I understand that one has just been shut down by Harper. Maybe I should do that one. Thanks. Oh, and Harper sucks. Almost forgot

Owen Gray said...

I can't make specific recommendations, greg. But I'm sure there are any number of organizations -- the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Pembina Institute -- who would eagerly take a donation.

mogs moglio said...

Magna Carta 800 years Owen and Harper has taken it away in 4 years.

Clearly he is a "Tyrant" yet he gets away with it. How so big bro? Unrelenting secrecy apathy and the blind support of MP's who should be taken behind the barn and taught a lesson.

Go figure.


Owen Gray said...

As Clark and Devries write, Mogs, it's a case of the blind leading the deaf.

mogs moglio said...

Actually Owen I think it is a case of I won't disparage dear leader cause I wont to hang in long enough to collect my overwhelming pension.

Que si or que no?

Que si...

Owen Gray said...

His pension will be a bit better than yours, Mogs. As a Reformer, he used to rail about politicians' pensions.

Dana said...


Especially -"Magna Carta - why so revolutionary? Presented by David Starkey - BBC Two

We take our liberties for granted. They seem absolute and untouchable. But they are the result of a series of violent struggles fought over 800 years that, at times, have threatened to tear our society apart. On the frontline was a document originally inked on animal skin – Magna Carta. Distinguished constitutional historian David Starkey looks at the origins of the Great Charter in 1215 to check the abuses of King John - and how it nearly died at birth. He explores its subsequent deployment, its contribution to making everyone – even the monarch – subject to the rule of law, and how this quintessentially English document migrated to the North American colonies and eventually became the foundation of the US constitution. Magna Carta has become a universal symbol of individual freedom against the tyranny of the state, but with ever-tightening government control on our lives, is it time to resurrect it?

Oxford Film and Television - 1 x 60"

Surely we all know how to watch Brit programming by now.

Owen Gray said...

The BBC is still a stellar institution, Dana. Unfortunately, lots of everyday folks never make use of its resources.

The Magna Charta? What's that?

mogs moglio said...

Dana my dear friend the "Great American Constitution" was not just the result of the "Magna Carta" but mostly based on the are you ready?

"The Six Nations: Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth".

The Americans literally copied and pasted the six nations constitution with of course a few changes however small. Link:


And to understand this history you must follow the links on that page to see how much influence "The peaceful People" [six nations] had on North America's history and why Canada got divided from the USA. It is not what you speculate or not what you were taught because it is not taught in history. Yet it is real. Ben Franklin was highly impressed by the six nations novel Constitution and pushed to have it in the US Constitution.

We should never forget The Fist Nations wisdom "The Six Nations" confederacy and constitution was created to put an end to tribal war fare. It has succeeded to this day. 800 years of peace until Ottawa acted out and sicked RCMP dogs on them? Huh? There is no knowledge in that just unforgiving anger.

Cheers my friend cheers,

Owen since you were a literature teacher how is my grammar? Go ahead and grade me.

Cheers Owen I love your blog,

Owen Gray said...

It's quite true that we have failed to acknowledge the contribution of the First Nations to our democratic, structures, Mogs.

It's a major theme in Johan Ralston Saul's two most recent books, A Fair Country and The Great Comeback.

mogs moglio said...

And Owen I don't think it is a mere coincidence that the Magna Carta was being penned at the same moment "The Peaceful People" The Six Nations started participatory democracy to end warfare.

Harper needs to go to a Six Nations camp for awhile so can learn that brand of wisdom peace and democracy hear me please Steve...

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Mogs, Harper's relationship with Canada's First Nations is almost non-existent.