Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pat Martin Doesn't Get This Whole "Parliament" Thing

NDP MP seeks to shut down government

As MPs returned to Ottawa after the 2011 federal election, NDP leader Jack Layton must have been worried that one of his new MPs would do something very, very stupid.

He probably couldn't have imagined that it would be one of his veteral MPs who would do something stupid.

Questions abounded whether or not Layton's deluge of first-time MPs would know how Parliament works. Instead, it seems to be Winnipeg Centre MP Pat Martin who doesn't understand. And he's been there going on 14 years!

Martin's comical blunder revolves around a bill he plans to introduce in the House of Commons that could deny funding to the Senate, by requiring Parliament to vote on a separate supply motion for the Senate.

“We may not be able to abolish the Senate by constitutional amendment, but we can cut off its blood supply,” Martin declared. “We might not be able to get rid of it, but we don’t have to fund it.”

Actually, they do.

As a long-time Parliamentarian, Martin must understand full well that, in order for bills passed by the House of Commons to become law, they must also be passed by the Senate.

If the Senate cannot function due to lack of funds, cannot examine bills, and cannot vote on them, nothing passed by the House of Commons can become law. Nor could the government pass budgets or anything of the like.

It would actually lead to a shutdown of government.

Fortunately, Martin doesn't stand even a remote chance of passing such a bill -- or any other bill -- without support from the Conservative Party. He even knows this. He isn't even introducing this bill out of good faith. He's introducting it purely as part of a point-scoring endeavour.

“It will force the Conservatives to stand and vote to support the Senate, which is kind of delicious given the grief it is causing them lately,” Martin remarked.

Martin is risking a shutdown of the Parliamentary process in order to score political points. Incredible.

Normally, Martin wouldn't be any where near this irresponsible. In fact, in previous years Martin has been a champion of such basic and fundamentally democratic principles as ensuring that bills are examined by committee, even if he opposes them.

The NDP's ascension to Official Opposition seems to have brought out something previously unseen in Pat Martin: an undemocratic streak that would risk an effective shutdown of Parliament in pursuit of political advantage.

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