Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bill C-38 - a lot to like

First off, the idea of an omnibus bill like C-38 is the norm in Federal Canadian politics and was used regularly by the Liberals and the PCs.  I have hated them for years and it is one of the reasons I really disliked the PCs and the federal Liberals.   The current use of this traditional parliamentary tactic is just one more example of why the current Conservatives are not the heirs or descendants of the Reform party but are just the Mulroney PCs redux.

I have little memory of anyone else complaining about the draconian way Chretien pushed through all his omnibus bills.   One case I remember a completely unrelated set of issues were tacked onto a bill as a rider to get it to pass through the parliament without scrutiny which is what happened.

I hate the tactic but in general I like a lot of what is within the bill.  I like it because for the first time in decades it actually gets the feds out of some areas of provincial jurisdiction a bit.   I do not have time to go through what I like in full detail because I have work to do and I know it will pass.

First off, natural resources, the land base and environment are areas of provincial jurisdiction.  The Feds have intruded way too far into this field and any reduction of Fed powers is a good thing.   The Federal Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Act have been used for decades now to circumvent the constitutional division of powers in Canada.

I also trust the provincial civil service to manage environmental assessments.  I have no trust that the federal civil servants could ever effectively manage environmental assessment for the benefit of the environment, the public or industry for a host of reasons.   Federal review panels are effectively a take it or leave it approach and almost always end up with bad decisions because there is no scope for negotiations.

I like the changes to EI, I would like to see it go much further and really become an insurance program.  Seasonal workers should not be covered by EI, doing this subsidises these industries from the pockets of average working people.   Remember that the rich do not pay EI.

I like the changes to OAS even if it does not go far enough in my opinion.  I would also like to see a change to CPP at the same time.

Bill C-38 gets rid of some agencies but the Conservatives and bill C-38 do not go anywhere nearly far enough but it is a start.   As an example I would like to see an end to of all the economic development agencies.

Any reduction in federal powers or civil servants is in my opinion almost always a good thing.  In years of dealing with the feds and province, the feds cost a lot more and do a lot less.

We are better governed when the decisions are made at the level of government that can effectively deal with the issue at hand.   For most things the provinces are the best level of government to manage things. Natural resource and environmental issues are handled better by the provinces.  Getting the feds out of the field would also reduce unneeded duplication.

If we were to actually reduce the federal government to something much smaller in scope of powers the whole Quebec sovereignty issue would go away.  


truthmeister said...

There is a lot to like with these changes. DFO is crazy with power. The opposition makes it sound that the environment will be not protected whereas its always been provincial responsibility.

Jeff Bridge said...

Good Stuff Bernard.This is right on the money.

Chris H said...

Some interesting points, here.

However, what about environmental issues that are federal in scope?

Habitat protection and wildlife management in regions such as the Rocky Mountains comes to mind. Also, protection of migratory species is another.

As we face climate change we need to consider protection as animals (and plants and biomes, for that matter) need to cross arbitrary political boundaries in order to track the distribution of suitable habitat over space and time.

Bernard said...

Yes there are some environmental issues that fall under the federal government because of international treaties but implementation should be left to the provinces

The provinces in Canada are more than large enough to deal with environmental issues. The border argument makes more sense north south on the continent than east west. If we think border issues and the environment, it is more likely to be an issue shared with the US. Should we then allow the Americans to have a say over environmental issues in Canada?

Tim said...

I am not sure the "reduction of federal powers" is the key to making the Quebec sovereignty issue go away in the way it once was. Quebec sovereigntist thought nowadays seems much more partisan in nature essentially criticizing the Federal Conservatives on a left right basis. In fact many of the changes proposed in Bill C-38 such as reform OAS, CPP, and EI all affect Quebec fairly negatively. Its hard for me to think of a recent Federal Government initiative outside of what looks to be now dormant national securities regulator that has aroused nationalist passion in Quebec.