OTTAWA – The Green Party was the one party whose MPs entered days of debate on the historic occasion of the primary use of the Emergencies Act and not using a predetermined position. We consider it is prime to our democracy to take heed to and interact in open debate, especially on something so impactful. Coming into the method with a call already made diminishes the conversation and the democratic process, in addition to deepening current divisions.
On the eleventh hour, the Prime Minister made this a vote of confidence, saying that a no vote signals distrust in government while a yes vote is a vote to support our democracy. As an alternative of using this moment to construct community and to debate the role of presidency in ensuring every one’s basic needs are being met, we’ve all been forced right into a hyper-politicised us-versus-them decision that has major implications not only now but into the long run.
Greens consider strongly that this could have been an open vote for everybody and never one whipped by the party or its leader, to avoid partisan posturing and make sure that members might be true representatives of their constituents on such a historic and significant vote. Peace, order, and good governance are foundational to Canadian democracy. In practice, this implies constructing trust and dialogue with fellow MPs, and dealing with them to enhance laws, as Green MPs have at all times done.
It also means voting in a principled and consistent way based on information gained through honest debate and authentic engagement with constituents who entrusted us as their representatives. Sometimes this implies voting with the federal government, sometimes it means voting against.
Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) said: “This was essentially the most difficult decision of my time as Member of Parliament. Over the past nearly 11 years, I even have read and studied every bill, listened to evidence and, relatively quickly, known where I stood. This vote on the declaration of the Public Order Emergency was one with which I struggled. I used to be unsure how I’d vote until Query Period on February 21, when the federal government confirmed two key issues for me. Firstly, that invasive actions referring to bank accounts would involve, every time, due process and Charter compliance. More significantly for me was resolving a problem that I felt could leave a door open to a future government to misuse the Emergencies Act. The problem I raised in my speech on February 17, that the regulations applied nationally and were far too broad, untied from the declaration and current emergency. Justice Minister David Lametti gave me the clear answer I would like, not only for me in the current, but in future to avoid an excessively broad misinterpretation that might open the door to setting a dangerous precedent.”
Mike Morrice (MP, Kitchener Centre) said: “That is about whether the Emergencies Act was mandatory, and whether all legal criteria needed to enact it were met. I didn’t take this decision frivolously. I made my decision after participating in the controversy and learning from my colleagues within the House of Commons, and from experts across the country, listening to perspectives from all sides – each inside the House and from my neighbours in Kitchener. While I understand some feel in another way, I even have not been persuaded by the explanations provided to Parliament that the standards for the Act have been met.”
On a problem this complex and vital, it will not be unusual for individuals with similar principles and values to come back to different conclusions. Governments in any respect levels have been playing politics throughout this pandemic as an alternative of setting aside jurisdictional bickering to work together to resolve long-standing systemic issues and construct resilient communities. That there stays disagreement on the implementation of the Emergencies Act proves the federal government has further responsibility to construct consensus with MPs and with Canadians.
“I’m happy with our MPs for voting the best way they think best represents their constituents and what they feel is most appropriate,” said Interim Green Party leader, Amita Kuttner. “Good governance requires not coming to a debate having made up one’s mind, it means collaboration to attain the very best possible consequence, and dissenting when mandatory.”
Ms. May added, “I do want to substantiate my respect for MPs who voted no, and particularly my colleague Mike Morrice. This was a really difficult decision and reasonable people have room to disagree. The larger issue is to proceed to work to carry the federal government accountable and move forward on many fronts based on lessons learned.”
“Now that the occupation and blockades have been cleared, we want to take motion to handle the deep divisions in our society, to handle the rise of white supremacy, and evaluate the police and government response,” said Mr. Morrice.
As we’ve seen throughout this pandemic and even before, there was ongoing entrenchment of division throughout society. The extent of violence and harassment people living in and around occupied communities have been forced to endure, the symbols of hate and desecration of sacred monuments, the foreign funding and disinformation campaigns attempting to overthrow our democracy, the inequity to which public safety is bestowed upon some while at the identical time ripped away from others. These are all examples of injustices marginalised people have faced for hundreds of years on this country and only now that these injustices are visited upon the historically privileged is it a crisis.
We should always be prioritising these issues for debate as we move forward from this crisis. We’d like to have the opportunity to resolve these systemic issues authentically without sacrificing essentially the most vulnerable in society. We’d like to have the opportunity to debate these issues openly and without partisanship. Meaningful debate cannot occur as long as MPs arrive with their minds already made up they usually definitely cannot occur while MPs are under threat of an election by the Prime Minister.
The votes of Green MPs on the continued application of the Emergencies Act powers are usually not commentary on these debates but they do show the divisiveness of the federal government’s approach. We stay up for getting back to real conversations that don’t further entrench division, and to finding solutions that serve everyone.
The Green Party is now calling for:
– A National Commission of Inquiry into racism and white supremacy in policing, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian Armed Forces.
– A full inquiry into the events surrounding the occupation of Ottawa, including failures in intelligence and the chain of command in local government and police
– Recent regulations for tracking and reporting funding outside the Elections Act or Charities Act and directed to extremists.
– Creation of an anti-hate Ombudsperson, as called for by the Anti-Hate Network.
– Passage of personal member’s Bill C-229 banning symbols of hate.
– Enhanced regulations to shut down on-line hate and disinformation masquerading as journalism/news.
– Laws to guard journalists from legitimate news organisations from physical and verbal abuse constituting a threat to a free press.
For more information or to rearrange an interview:
1-613-562-4916 ext. 215