Contempt of Parliament

I’ve got two major essays that I’m trying to write, so I’ll try and keep this somewhat brief. Today, the Canadian Government (or should that be the Harper Government?) fell, after a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons about the recent committee findings of a contempt of Parliament issue.

I am cautiously optimistic. I’m actually quite surprised that the 40th Parliament lasted the 2.5 years that it has. Traditionally, minority governments in Canada have been extremely short lived.

Whether things will turn out any different than what we have right now, or if Canada falls deeper into Harperland will be seen over the next several weeks. Sadly, I expect the political vitriol to fly, and have serious doubts about cooler heads prevailing.

Some of the issues I would like to see brought to the forefront of the election campaigns include some of the following:

  • Public accountability. Sadly, Harper ran on this in the 2004 election, but his government has been more secretive and restrictive than other recent governments.
  • Reform for health transfer taxes. Our healthcare system is hurting, and the provincial governments are unable to bear the costs on their own.
  • A strong focus on debating actual issues, rather than a descent into the madness of attack ads.

Unfortunately, I believe the Conservatives will continue their tactics of demonizing the opposition parties. The Liberals and NDP will likely follow suit. It’s been proven that attack ads are effective.

It would have been nice to have seen the opposition parties vote in solemn silence to topple the government, rather than express their glee at finally forcing an election. This was a historic vote, and I think it would have sent a strong message to Canadians if they could keep their emotions in check. Their behaviour during the vote just fuels the claims that they’re opportunistically seeking power.

In the meantime, we wait for Stephen Harper to meet with Governor General David Johnston tomorrow morning, in order to receive our election date. At least Harper didn’t ask to prorogue Parliament again.

GG David Johnston

I recently reviewed the book Harperland, which others might find informative in understanding some of the changes made in Canadian politics in the past several years.  Also, leading up to the toppling of the Government was the Bev Oda/Kairos affair, which in my opinion, shows the lack of respect the Conservatives have for Parliament, and for Canadians.

Penalty Boxes in Parliament But Not the NHL

First, I’m quite happy that Speaker Peter Milliken has ruled that Bev Oda breached parliamentary privilege rules in her handling of the Kairos funding. Her behaviour, and lack of contrition is deeply troubling. This ruling will send the case to a “parliamentary committee” for further discussion. We’ll see how transparent that process is. I’m not holding my breath, but it’s nice to see the “Harper Government” knocked down a peg.

Second, what’s up with the NHL? Seriously, I thought Sidney Crosby’s concussion from the hits by David Steckel and Victor Hedman was going to knock some sense into the NHL, but apparently not. Now we have word that the NHL will not hand down a suspension to, nor will they fine Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara for his hit against Canadiens Max Pacioretty, which left the Habs player with a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra.

Regardless of whether anyone actually presses criminal charges in these types of incidents, the fact is that hits to the head, from behind cannot be defended against, and can lead to lifelong injuries. In the recent medical report on former NHL player Bob Probert, it was revealed that he had suffered from a serious degenerative brain disease. And Probert didn’t even lose many fights.

I really don’t understand this. The evidence clearly suggests that these types of serious concussions can ruin not just a hockey season, but their very ability to enjoy life. Forget about salary caps, or keeping prospective owners from moving teams without the league’s approval, what the NHL needs to do is protect the players by sending a clear and unambiguous message: zero tolerance for hits to the head.