Saturday, June 11, 2011

Barely news today, forgotten tomorrow: live-blogging the policy plenary

1:30 PM: And we're back, or we will be in 5 minutes, the voice from on high just informed the hall. It's time for the policy plenary, and apparently we have 30 or so to deal with in one-and-a-half hours. We'll see how that goes.

Policy plenaries are a funny thing. Well-meaning people spend months getting a policy to the plenary and lobbying for its passage, with much vigorous debate. The media and opposition will loo for controversial policies to highlight. And then after the next day, we'll never hear of these policies again because party leaders write their own platform, never mind what their memberships have to say.

It seems to be a bit of a kabuki play in all parties; after all, developing policy should be a prime reason for joining a party if you're joining for the right reasons. Alas, it's usually just for show.

1:37 PM: They're reading the rules. One requires a "clear majority" to demand debate on a policy for there to be debate. Hmm, how will Guy define a "clear majority"? Is it 50+1? More? Jack Layton definition or Clarity Act definition? Ah, fun.

1:45 PM: After 15 minutes of rules, we're underway. They're not naming them, so it's a it hard to follow. No debate on the first, which I think was basically we love veterans. It passed. They also oppose human smuggling.

1:48 PM: Still no debate. Policy on shared parenting (joint custody mother and father) passes. And motion on family and marriage, saying we don't want to force religious institutions to marry people they dont' want to. Which no one is forcing them to do. Anyway, it passes. This is going too fast.

1:50 PM: Finally debate on a motion which I support, to remove parental means test from student loan eligibility determination. Ridiculous speech against saying it's the millionaires resolution that kids of rich people that don't need it could be getting loans. Really, why would they? That's dumb. Speaker for makes point families can be asset rich/cash poor, like farmers, and shouldn't have to sell land to put kids through school. Glad to see it carries fairly clearly.

1:53 PM: Point of order from a delegate asking the chairs to slow the heck down is met with applause from the floor. I agree, but no clapping allowed on media row.

1:55 PM: This is too fast so I'm not going to comment on each one, just the major ones, and I'll let you know if one is actually killed.

1:59 PM: Point of order from floor, if it's close to wanting debate just have the debate, don't waste our time with the electronic voting. Given that it's two minutes of debate and takes at least that much time to do the e-vote, makes sense to me, and the floor and chairs agree.

2:00 PM: Now it's a motion to require immigrants adhere to "Canadian values." A speaker against asks just how you would define Canadian values anyway. It goes to an e-vote. It passes 65-35 on vote count, and it gets 9 of 11 provinces/territories, so it passes.

2:05 PM: A lot of people's votes aren't being counted electronically, because they're not using the machines properly. First you need to initialize it with the number of people using each machine, to a maximum of six. When you enter the votes, the yes and no votes must equal that number. Apparently people are trying to initialize six, or are trying to enter more votes than they initialized. In the last vote over 30 machines were invalidates, that could be as many as 200 lost votes.

2:08 PM: Debating a motion on refugee determination, #75, and it's the first to be defeated. It would be tougher on refugees, basically, and seems similar to government policy around the ship/s of Tamil refugees. So its defeat was interesting.

2:13 PM: Tension between delegates at the back and the chairs. Delegates say there's an echo in the room, we can't hear what you're saying and don't know what we're voting on, so slow down. Chairs have little sympathy, say we're following the order in your booklet so pay attention losers. Guy and friend are getting a bit chippy; so are delegates.

2:22 PM: That was social policy, now we're on to Government, Taxation and Crime.

2:23 PM: What looks to be a stealth anti-Sharia law motion passes soundly (B-98).

2:24 PM: Legalized prostitution? Not these Conservatives. They also oppose government waste. Wish I could have seen how Tony "Gazebo" Clement voted on that one. And ha, they're in favour of tax code simplification. Et tu, Jim Flaherty? This government has done more than any other to complicate the tax code than most, with all these ridiculous tax credits designed to buy the votes of target groups.

2:28 PM: Debating a motion to lower the number of convictions for dangerous offender status from three convictions to two. Young guy speaks against saying you don't want to have some lowly pot dealer named dangerous offender; I laughed, delegates not so much. I thought it passed by hands, but it goes to e-vote. And the "two strikes you're out" policy passes handily.

2:38 PM: And now it's the Khadr motion, which would remove right of citizenship even of people born in Canada that take up arms against Canada or its allies. I mean seriously, how do you strip a person born in Canada of their citizenship? Where would you send them exactly if they're not a dual citizen, Atlantis? Narnia? This is silly and dangerous. And it's thankfully defeated on a hand vote; good job delegates.

2:39 PM: Vote on clean air and green house gas policy that can be summed up as an anti-cap and trade policy. It appears to pass by hand, but they go to e-vote and confirm that yes, it carries by only by seven provinces to four. One speaker said this policy would condemn the government's current policy. Opps. I suspect they'll get over it though.

2:44 PM: Resolution that basically supports ending the per vote subsidy, passes easily but still with opposition. And now we're on to economic issues.

2:46 PM: Motion for union strike votes to be by secret ballot passes without debate, as does one to oppose penalties for picket line crossers. They also oppose red tape and support arctic sovereignty.

2:51 PM: We're actually now well ahead of schedule, knock wood. Just a handful of economic policies left and nothing controversial.

2:59 PM: And with the last motion passing, the policy plenary finishes one hour early. That was speedy. We'll see if they can move to the closing festivities early or not. Fingers crossed.

3:02 PM: Closing fun moved-up by 15 minutes to 3:45 pm, so see you then.

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Mark Francis said...

"A motion to require immigrants adhere to 'Canadian values.'"

Given how much Conservatives wail against Canadian liberalism, does this mean that immigrants voting for the Cons aren't adhering to Canadian values? What a ridiculous motion to pass. Canada is a free and democratic society. Full stop. We're all free to argue against those things, and believe in something different.

"the Khadr motion" -- good that it didn't pass, but can't survive a Charter challenge anyway. Potentially populist if it did pass, mind you. It's a real thing that people became stateless even if they had citizenship here. Typically, women would fall prey to a scenario where they married a non-Canadian and were stripped of citizenship, and, due to the lack of a treaty with their husband's country or origin, would fail to gain his citizenship. Old history now, mostly, but sometimes an elderly women wanders in to get a passport and it's discovered that she has no citizenship.

So the Conservatives have adopted a policy of not using market forces to control GHG emissions. They now stand alone as a aprty in power in wanting Soviet-style centralized control of GHG emissions. Stupid, and contradictory to their stated economic philosophy. Of course, their control is wanted to be minimal. They'd hate to sue market forces and have the market take this climate change reality seriously.

BTW, great job among the heathens, Jeff.

Zorpheous said...

Jeff, I am amazed that you haven't killed yourself after being subjected to these terminal amounts of Teh Stoopid.

Well at least the knuckle draggers had enough working brain cells to know that defeating that incredibly stupid motion on Canadian Citizenship should be defeated,... I know a few blogging torries who will morn it's death.

Jeff Jedras said...

Actually Zorph, they weren't as bad policy-wise as I'd feared. Some of them were plain dumb, but they actually defeated a few of the dumber ones and passes some pretty decent stuff around student loans.

Mark, the thing that struck me was the gap that often existed between the policies and government policy. They're for free trade, but the government randomly blocks foreign takeovers. They're for tax code simplification, but Flaherty has done more than most FinMins to complicate it. And I'm not sure they see the contradictions...

sharonapple88 said...

Policy plenaries are a farce, but it really seemed as though they didn't even try and pretend that it mattered. Can't hear. Tough luck. Don't know how to use the machines. Too bad.