Federal politicians of all stripes have been locked behind closed doors the last couple of days, preparing for what could be one of the most difficult sessions of Parliament in some time. Perhaps the biggest difficulty, however, comes from south of the border, where Donald Trump has now assumed the presidency of the United States.
The federal government is ramming ratification of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) through Parliament in a process as undemocratic as the deal itself. Bill C-30 to implement the trade deal with Europe was brought before Parliament for second reading this week, and is expected to pass by today.
During the last federal election, the Liberals promised more free votes in the House so MPs could more effectively represent their constituents. The TPP is an issue that demands our representation. It will affect every Canadian, but will have specific and diverse impacts on different parts of the country.
They're given the chance every four years.
Yesterday, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan announced that Canada will commit to a yet undefined peacekeeping mission, probably in central Africa, and in doing so Canada will be a "responsible partner in the world." It will probably not be until the end of the year that we know the details -- why, where, the mission's duration, what will they do, what victory looks like and the terms of engagement. What we know for sure from minister Sajjan's announcement and follow-up questions is that this matter will not be brought before Parliament for a vote before the commitment to the UN is finally agreed upon and put into operation.
Today, the political landscape has changed. We have a government that promised to conduct public hearings on several issues and to listen attentively to the demands of the population. Nevertheless, when it comes to solid gestures and courageous actions, there seems no political appetite to tackle Bill C-51.
Can you name every country in the world?
Few realize that the position of prime minister in Canada has more power than the President in the United States or, for that matter, any government leader in the G7. The current government already has the majority of seats and therefore control of the legislative agenda. It can use its majority to limit debate on any given bill and it also has control over the committees studying these bills.
If all MPs and all Canadians approach these subjects with respect, we can all feel better about the outcome whether you support Bill C-14 or not. I have been part of a few interviews and discussions with MPs on the issue of assisted suicide and got to know my colleagues across the aisle and understand their motivations better. This is passion and Parliament at its best. Sadly, last week also saw Parliament at its worst when the prime minister of Canada allowed his passion to get the better of him and he stormed across the aisle to yell at, and engaged in a scuffle with opposition MPs.
This was one of the first times when I fully disagreed with our prime minister's initial actions, but the quick and stormy actions of the Conservatives and NDP turned a reasonable concern into a farce. It's the overly polite, overly politically correct narrative that turns Canada into one giant joke for the rest of the world. This time, I was laughing with them.