Procedural war

Keith Beardsley considers Peter Van Loan’s walk across the aisle, opposition delays and omnibus legislation.

The Official Opposition thought they had caught the government on a technicality and they wanted to force another vote which would have further delayed passage of Bill C-45, a bill with which they strongly disagree. What is so exciting about that?  Why was it necessary for the Conservative House Leader to cross the floor? It is perfectly legitimate for any opposition party to use the full arsenal of tactics available to them to delay or defeat government legislation.

Perhaps the Conservative side has forgotten the tactics they used when one of their predecessor parties (the Reform Party) used every tactic available to them to stall and try to prevent the Nis’ga Treaty from being passed by the Chretien government. In 1999, the Reform Party forced 471 votes on amendments to the Nis’ga Land Claims Treaty. According to the CBC, it took 42 hours and 25 minutes to force recall votes on all the motions, including some as minor as the placement of a comma. Delaying or stalling the passage of a bill is a legitimate tactic in a democracy. While the Conservatives may not like anyone standing up to them or delaying their agenda in the House, the last I heard Canada was still a democracy and opposition parties are not required to do the government’s bidding.