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Actions have consequences.

In this particular case, the decision of the Liberal strategists and the Nervous Nellies to persuade Dion to abstain from voting down the Budget is the action. The consequences are that the Conservatives are emboldened by this to stick controversial immigration reforms, which asks Parliament “to relinquish its decision-making power on immigration policies to a single person – the (Immigration) Minister” into the budget implementation bill, meaning that it will be considered a motion of confidence to try and defeat this.

Speaking of the reforms, this is a draconian piece of legislation that Diane Finley (the Immigration Minister) and the Conservatives are proposing. Passing this bill has its own consequences:

The bill would allow the minister to discard applications from specific countries, reject applicants who otherwise meet all immigration criteria, and accelerate some applications, allowing queue-jumping. Worst, applicants couldn’t appeal. Lawyer Lorne Waldman said the approach goes against the points system that was introduced in the late 1960s to make the system non-racist and accountable. “This new change will undo all of this by allowing the minister to override the established criteria by directing that whole categories be not processed and by giving the minister the power to direct that applications be processed despite them not meeting the objective criteria,” Waldman warned. The bill could also terminate the processing of humanitarian applications from overseas and limit the number and type of applications each person could file.All these scenarios could happen via “minister’s instructions” that circumvent the traditional process of public consultations, parliamentary committee reviews and oversight, critics charge…The current law obliges the immigration department to consider, process and decide all applications to ensure every foreigner who meets the requirements is entitled to enter Canada. The new provisions give the minister the right to discard applications or retain them permanently – allowing the department to chop the backlog with no legal consequences.

It’s rather telling that the Conservatives would slip this into the Budget provisions rather then bring this forward as a separate piece of legislation on its own, because they know it would probably be defeated or heavily amended if it was, and they’re also aware that the Nervous Nellies hold the most sway in the Liberal caucus right now. Perhaps the Liberals feel that they can afford to wait on this and repeal it when/if they are elected back to power, but as Steve says, this issue could be a trigger for an election if the Liberals want it, as they would certainly be on the same side of the issue as their traditional allies in the immigrant communities, who are urging Dion and the Liberals to vote this down, even if it forces an election.

The Liberals keep saying they will go to an election at their choosing, not Harper’s. On an issue like this which the Liberals have always been strong on, I believe this could be the issue of their choosing, if they have the political will to do so.

No guts, no glory. No risk, no reward.


8 comments to Actions have consequences.

  • Hi Scott
    You said ‘this is a draconian piece of legislation’.
    I think you understate it – it’s the most draconian piece of legislation I’ve seen come out of a western democracy in recent years.

  • ~

    Ah yes, straw man arguments truly are convincing. You’d definitely have to try pretty hard to create a greater caricature of the public service. And by your use of the word "pesky" one can but see the great respect that you hold for their work.

    Here is my counter-strawman for childish delight.

  • janfromthebruce

    And when one uploads power and decision-making into nontransparent govt departments, one doesn’t need all the pesky civil service does one? But one sure needs more "help" in the ‘secret office,’ and thus one can hire their buddies to give advice without all that govt overseeing.

  • ~

    Top 5 reasons Ron is Wrong !

    1. Concentrating more power at the top of the line in an environment where most people already have trouble looking after their specific duties is not exactly productive.
    2. Ad-Hoc decision making works. In Small business. You’re running a country. It might allow for circumvention in that oh-so special case where that 1 particular particular person was "especially in need" of circumventing the system, but on the whole, it makes for bad government policy.
    3. Contrary to popular belief, there are bureaucrats who work for the government to do these kind of things. They are probably more educated, better informed and more up to date on the needs of immigrants on what exactly needs to be changed than say… the minister ?. Maybe we can ask them ?
    4. How is this not "more of the same". We’re giving the Minister the power to do what her entire bureaucratic staff already mostly has the power to do, except without consultation and reflection. If you’re looking to be more "transparent" and "accountable", this definitely isn’t the way to do it!
    5. Despite not being in power for the last 13 years, you’d figure the Tories would want wise up and realize that they might not be in office come this time next year. It might be smart in the short term to increase the powers of the members of the Executive Branch while you’re in office, but every time they do so, they are effectively tying their own hands for the next time they aren’t part of it.

  • You cannot blame the nervous nellies when the leader can (and has in the past) gone into an election against the approval of his own caucus.

    Actions do have consequences, and it is time Stephane Dion takes ownership of that Scott.

    Dion does not want an election. He doesnt wanna face a leadership review later this year in vancouver and he knows what is going to happen if he goes there not having delivered. Hide behind caucus members all you want but if he really wanted one, we would be at the polls right now.

    At the end of the day, the Liberals’ credibility takes a big hit with all this but it is Stephane Dion’s credibility which is continuing to take a real beating.

    Given the gong show that Celine Hervieux Payette and Bob Fragasso are perpetrating in Quebec, maybe an election is the only way everybody will wake up and focus…

  • Ron

    Every year, the immigration situation gets worse and the only solution Liberals propose is more of the same. The Health Care system is declining and the Liberal solution is more of the same. The education system is deteriorating and the Liberal solution is more of the same. We need changes that will allow the backlog to be eliminated and for new applicants to be screened and admitted as fast as possible. The current system has people waiting 6 years or people being told they can work as a doctor, engineer etc only to find when they get here they can’t. The system is not working — I for one am willing to try something other than more of the same.

  • I can hardly wait to see Kate defend this over at SDA, since, of course, this kind of arbitrary use of state power vested in an individual is entirely different than what she was talking about when earlier.

    Yes, when Conservatives do it, tis just the right thing to do. When anyone else does it, like a HRC, well, its the advent of statist fascism.

  • janfromthebruce

    Scott’s this is ahistorical revisionism:
    The Liberals keep saying they will go to an election at their choosing, not Harper’s. On an issue like this which the Liberals have always been strong on, I believe this could be the issue of their choosing, if they have the political will to do so.

    What Dion has been saying repeatedly, is that the electorate does not want an election. Which is it, or was one just an excuse for adding 3 more years to the Afghanistan mission where embeddedness comes to mind here, backing down on the environment.

    One doesn’t keep shouting out that they won’t bring down the govt because the citizens don’t want it but in the next breath, say well, we were just pulling your leg, we didn’t mean that, we found our issue.

    Thus, it means the libs will support Olive Chow’s amendment to the budget bill, of removing the immigration stuff and putting it under a separate bill.

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