These past few weeks have once again proved that the federal Liberals view Parliament as an irrelevant and annoying institution they must circumvent to serve their own interests. Think I?m being too harsh? Let me provide two recent examples of the Martin Liberal?s contempt for Parliament.
The first demonstration began on the evening of Tuesday, February 15th when MPs in the House of Commons defeated two government bills, C-31 and C-32. The intent of this proposed legislation was to split the department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade into two separate entities.
However, the government did not adequately justify to opposition parties why this split was necessary or that it was in the best interests of Canada. Given our governments? increasing reputation for ambiguity and indecisiveness on the international stage, among the concerns about the legislation was that our foreign affairs and international trade policies, administration and officials should be better coordinated ? not further isolated from each other.
Regardless, through the institution of Parliament, the will of the majority of Canadians defeated both bills that evening. However, the very next day, International Trade Minister Jim Peterson simply shrugged off the defeat and stated the two branches of government would continue to operate independently without Parliament?s blessing.
He added, ?We?re not going to undo all the work we have done to become a functioning department.? Even before the legislation was voted upon, the Liberals had already begun to separate the two departments. The legislation was defeated, yet they?re going to ignore it and continue as they wish.
As the Official Opposition House Leader, I raised a ?Question of Privilege? on this utter lack of respect for democracy and the Liberal government?s contempt for Parliament. House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken will rule on my question in the coming weeks.
The second example of this government flouting Parliament was on February 23rd when Prime Minister Paul Martin stood in the House and stated that no decision had been made on whether Canada will participate in missile defence. However, his Foreign Affairs Minister, Pierre Pettigrew, said he informed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice that Canada would not participate in missile defence on February 22nd. Mr. Martin should get his story straight with Mr. Pettigrew.
The Prime Minister also promised the House last October in his reply to the Speech from the Throne that with regard to missile defence, ?we will have a debate in the House prior to a government decision.?
There has certainly been no parliamentary debate. The government has provided Canadians with no details on BMD or how Canada might be involved. Yet the U.S. has been informed of the Liberals? decision? Not only does Paul Martin consistently demonstrate disrespect for Parliament, it appears he is attempting to mislead Canadians.
Fortunately, in this minority situation, the Official Opposition is better equipped to defend against this Liberal affront to our parliamentary and democratic institutions. The Conservative Party of Canada will not allow the Liberals to play ?fast-and-loose? with the truth nor the laws of Parliament.