With only two weeks left in the scheduled sitting of the House of Commons, there are many pieces of proposed legislation that are still in limbo for many reasons. For one piece in particular, Bill C-262, it has been held up in the Senate by Conservatives who have wanted to try to kill it by running out the clock. As I pointed out just last week, things were looking very bleak as Conservative Senators were using procedural rules and crap games to try to stifle the will of the elected chamber. It was undemocratic behaviour at it’s worst. Well today we got some good news on this front, news that we very welcomed in this corner of the internet:
Folks, after years of work and two Parliaments, Bill C-262 has reached what amounts to the final steps of becoming law. The Senate Aboriginal Peoples committee reported the bill back to the Senate this morning, intact and ready to face Third Reading. Committee Chair Lillian Dyck did a great job running her meeting today and deserves huge kudos for ensuring that a small minority of Conservatives failed in their attempt to deny democracy.
But there is a bit more to this story today, something that I believe needs to be told here. I was watching the blow by blow in the committee over Twitter, and I was quite stunned by some of what I was hearing was taking place in that Senate committee room. I was so stunned by it I had to go and look at the video, seeing it with my own two eyes. From that, I clipped a small piece of that meeting, but enough to give you a full taste of how the “honourable” Conservatives were conducting themselves today in their attempts to kill this bill:
After having watched that, I don’t think that the quotes around honourable are sarcastic enough to convey how less than honourable that who display was. The rest of the meeting played out in a very similar way, with members of the Conservatives trying to yell down the majority on the committee, saying without a hint of irony that they were stiffing free speech. Yes, the same people who were trying to drown the will of the elected politicians, which is the will of the people, were complaining that someone was trying to shut them down. This display was amazingly hypocritical and tacky, but completely what I’ve come to expect from some of those Conservative members.
Personally, I enjoyed watching Senator Murray Sinclair standing firm in the committee, not ceding an inch of ground to the Conservatives who have spent the last months trying to kill the bill that he is sponsoring in the Red Chamber. When Conservative Senator Dennis Patterson asked that Sinclair withdraw his comment about him trying to run out the clock, when that is exactly what he was doing, Sinclair’s reaction was priceless and what a true leader of the people looks like. These Independent Senators used the rules of the Senate and got this bill out of committee, completely within the word and spirit of the rules, while the Conservatives tried to pervert them.
I don’t expect the Conservatives to back down on this now, as they seem to find inexhaustible energy and indignation when it comes to fighting Indigenous rights. The display that we saw in the committee today was very similar to the scenes we saw twenty years ago when Reform Party MPs acted the same way trying to stop the Nisga’a Treaty. I would like to have thought the ugliness that we saw back then would never rear their ugly heads again in our Parliament, but the Conservative members of that committee delivered that in spades today.
Today was a good day for democracy, despite the fact that it took all this time to finally get to this point. Now that this bill is going back to committee, my genuine hope is that the remaining Senators ensure that third reading finished quickly and send this bill to the Governor General to get Royal Assent. I hope that the remaining Senators in the Red Chamber take their duty seriously and ensure that this extremely important piece of legislation finishes the final steps of this long journey, ensuring that it becomes law.