Thursday, February 23, 2012

Selinger's Siesta: Silence, Stealth and the 40th Manitoba legislature - Part I

Over the last four months, Manitoba's NDP government and its hapless opposition have been more than happy to cede the political stage in this province to the federal government. In stark contrast to the House of Commons in Ottawa, Manitoba's Legislative building has been operating under a consensual all-party code of silence since last November. All the plebes, politicos, and politicians toiling away within the bowels of the legislature since last fall's election have seemingly gone mute. And, this suits Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger just fine.

With Manitoba's provincial economy performing reasonably well and with the annual flood (drought?) drama still weeks (months?) away; Greg Selinger is under no pressure from his party to recall Manitoba's legislature. As for Manitoba's official opposition, currently flailing about like a headless chicken in search of savior ... any savior... they too are in no hurry to reengage the government. For these reasons, coupled with the fact that Ottawa is seemingly hellbent on stealing ALL the national, provincial and local headlines anyway, Greg Selinger may be forgiven for believing that "the silence" is golden. From his perspective, delaying the resumption of the 40th Manitoba legislature and continuing to govern by stealth is political no-brainer. The NDP's stealthy governance not only makes for greater management efficiencies; it also allows it all the time it wants to craft, define, refine, then redefine, re-refine, etc., etc., a new course for our future - all without having to respond to the silly partisan questions that routinely arise when a legislature is in session. As such, Selinger has no good reason to recall Manitoba's legislature at this juncture. Err... save one niggling thing... it's high time we regular citizens (i.e. Manitoba's average Joe & Jane Blow's) were kept abreast of what exactly the NDP government has planned for us in the days, months, and years ahead.

Now some will say: "But, but, we had an eight day session in late October that included a throne speech. And, okay, okay, sure it passed no bills and ended early - but really, what more did you Joe and Jane Blow's expect after our election victory?"  Well, in a word: Clarity. We Joe & Jane Blow's want clarity on what specific bills the government intends to bring forward in a new session. We want clarity on how the provincial government will adapt should Ottawa's fanatic fidelity to fiscal retrenchment end up hurting either our provincial treasury and/or our overall general welfare. We want clarity on how our provincial government proposes to continue to strive to fix our public school system's abysmally poor graduation rates. We want assurances the NDP government has plans in place to insure that healthcare in Manitoba will remain viable, available, and manageable in the face of finite front line resources. In short, we want the kind of clarity that can only be achieved when the process of governing is laid bare - the kind that only comes when a Legislature is, in fact, in session. After a break approaching four months, with no end in sight, it's time Premier Selinger for you to tell us when you'll be calling an end to this post-election victory siesta. Manitobans expect some clarity.  Bottom line, we deserve to know when the Manitoba legislature will be recalled.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lemmings! Canada's Conservative MP's & Bill C-30

   "Vic Toews' flying circus is a cartoonish distraction from troubling legislation. The dangers hidden in this bill are subtler than they might seem." - Ivor Tossell, Globe & Mail

True the twitter campaign against @ToewsVic and Bill C-30 has been fun. Indeed, for some of us (hello mirror), err,... perhaps too much fun? By happily partaking in the tit-for-tat tweeting orgy ridiculing Toews divisive demeanor, some of us (as the Globe & Mail's Ivor Tossell has pointed out) have let the real issue slip away. I agree with Ivor. Amid all the hoopla attached to the anti-Toews twitter campaign, the underlying dangers the new bill poses to our privacy must be kept front and centre. Further, we must remind ourselves that while Vic Toews may be the current face of Canada's proto-police state, he is not the only one. Within the current Conservative Party of Canada there are other hardcore elements aside from Mr. Toews who are also well and truly committed to undermining our privacy rights. How do we know this? We know it because the vast majority of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's backbench MP's have chosen to remain mute on the draconian intrusive state surveillance measures contained within Bill C-30. And by their silence these Conservative MP's are sending us all a very simple message - one that reads: WE believe YOUR privacy is OUR business.  It's indefensible really.  Canada's Conservative MP's: Lemmings, lemmings all.