Tory MP Goguen moves motion to end committee hearings on omnibus crime bill
'This puts the mock in democracy,' says NDP MP Jack Harris about the Conservation manoeuvre.
By TIM NAUMETZ | Nov. 17, 2011
PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs and the government majority on the Commons Justice Committee are battling over a motion the Conservatives moved Thursday morning to end a final series of hearings on the government’s controversial 102-page omnibus bill by midnight the same day.
On the heels of a half-dozen times the government has used time allocation to limit debate on legislation it wants passed by the Christmas recess, opposition MPs were furious during a morning break after Conservative MP Robert Goguen (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, N.B.) tabled the motion, which would have the Justice Committee report the omnibus bill to the House by Friday.
“This puts the mock in democracy,” NDP MP Jack Harris (St. John's East, Nfld.) burst out when the manoeuvre began, as witnesses from the Justice Department and Public Safety Department looked on.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.), at the table as an observer unable to take part in the debate as her party has no official status in Parliament, tweeted the confrontation through the morning and told The Hill Times she hoped to be able to intervene before the session ended. A vote on the closure motion was to be held later in the day.
Mr. Goguen told The Hill Times the government made the move after opposition MPs served notice of a raft of amendments they wanted to make to the bill—criticized by a range of legal experts for new measures they predict will increase prison populations without reducing crime rates—while it was going through final clause-by-clause study.
“Instead of going in a number of sessions what we’ve done is we’ve compacted it,” said Mr. Goguen. He said the 15.5 hours of the extended hearing Thursday would by the equivalent of eight separate committee meetings.
“The people of Canada have asked us to protect the streets and the communities, and there are obstructing tactics from the NDP,” he told The Hill Time. He said the committee had so far only reached clause eight of the bill, Bill C-10, which has more than 200 clauses.
The government’s abrupt move in the Justice Committee flew under the radar early Thursday morning as Parliament Hill was fixated on another dramatic development related to government rush tactics with legislation—NDP MP Pat Martin’s use of the F-word on Twitter to describe a government limit on debate over the Budget Implementation Bill, Bill C-13 at report stage.
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