Updated: Oct 28, 2020
May 26, 2020. A dark day. A day that democracy came to a screeching halt in this once great nation. In a vote of 28-23, sittings of the House of Commons have now been suspended until September https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/liberals-preparing-to-postpone-parliament-until-september-with-help-from-the-ndp#comments-area.
Excited by the Liberals promise "to push the provinces to develop a plan that would see all workers receive at least 10 days of paid sick leave" https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/house-won-t-resume-regular-sittings-until-the-fall-as-mps-opt-for-hybrid-meetings-1.4955324?cache=, the NDP party sided with the Liberals and voted in favour of an all-party COVID-19 committee, instead of House sittings.
COVID-19 is a big issue, no question. What's the big deal with the decision to suspend Parliament? Canadians still have a committee to oversee the government, we'll be just fine over the next couple months. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Case in point, this May 20th video from MP Michael Barrett https://www.facebook.com/MikeBarrettON/videos/655287155019197/. Mr. Barrett presents a question during the COVID-19 committee meeting regarding a house being constructed at Harrington Lake for the Prime Minister, while the other residence on the property is renovated, both at the taxpayer's expense. Speaker of the House of Commons, Anthony Rota, proceeds to disallow the question as it does not specifically relate to COVID-19 matters.
Is this government accountability? Is this transparency? I think not!
Now, for the next couple of months, the government has free rein to continue with the daily cottage cash handouts, take preselected questions from journalists to meet their narrative https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/malcolm-trudeaus-briefings-highlight-a-problem-with-journalism-in-canada and provide lame duck answers to questions from MPs in the COVID committees such as this https://www.facebook.com/PierrePoilievreMP/videos/624520715076641/.
What is our course of action if Parliament is shut out for the next couple of months? Should we take a summer holiday, similar to the Liberals and NDP? Again, I think not! We need to voice our concerns to our local MPs along with the Governor General, who is to remain non-partisan and apolitical in her constitutional duties. The Right Honourable Julie Payette can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your local MPs contact information can be found here https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search#.
Sample MP Letter:
Name of MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Dear Member of Parliament:
I am writing you as one of your constituents to express my concerns regarding the recent suspension of Parliament sittings in exchange for a COVID-19 all-party committee.
On May 26, 2020, MPs voted 28-23 in favour of suspending in person Parliament sittings. This comes at a time where our nation faces three significant crises; the COVID-19 health crisis, long-term care facility atrocities, and the impending collapse of the economy. If ever there has been a time for Parliament to sit, I whole-heartedly believe that this is that time.
My concern stems from the fact that this committee does not provide the same tools to opposition MPs as Parliament does. Examples of such tools include private member bills, opposition days, and most notably, the ability for opposition to question the government on matters aside from COVID-19. Additionally, I am concerned with the lack of accountability & transparency that the government has shown in replying to questions relating to their handling of the COVID-19 crisis and plans for economic relaunch.
In his November 4, 2015 letter to Canadians, Prime Minister Trudeau stated "It is time for leadership that never seeks to divide Canadians, but takes every single opportunity to bring us together, including in Parliament." He went on to say "That is why we committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in Ottawa. Government and its information must be open by default. Simply put, it is time to shine more light on government to make sure it remains focused on the people it was created to serve – you" https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/statements/2015/11/04/prime-minister-justin-trudeaus-open-letter-canadians. Perhaps it is time for him to live up to these promises.
Now is the time to put words into action in support of our democracy. I am asking that you do everything within your legal power to ensure that Parliament returns to its full capacity immediately.
Your willingness to take action now will show your support for Canadian citizens from all corners of the country. The sooner that Parliament is fully operational again, the more likely that this country will be able to rebound from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
Thank you for your commitment.
I look forward to receiving a response from you.
Note: a similar letter could be set to the Governor General, the only change necessary would be the heading (address, etc.) and the wording in the 1st paragraph. Suggested wording: [I am writing you as a concerned Canadian citizen to express my concerns regarding the recent suspension of Parliament sittings in exchange for a COVID-19 all-party committee.]
Freedom isn't free and we need to fight for our democracy or risk losing it all together. Little by little, the identity of Canada is being eroded and it is the responsibility of its citizens to protect the values we hold dear; freedom of religion & speech, democracy, economic security, sustainability, among others.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke.
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