Sunday, August 26, 2012

How the Ontario Conservatives failed us

Bill 122, the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, made all information on abortion services secret in Ontario.

This is an anti-democracy bill and the Opposition Conservatives did nothing to stop it from passing; there was no debate about the abortion exclusion clause in the Legislature.

On third reading and passing of the Bill, only 15 of 36 Conservative MPPs voted against it (see full list of MPPS below and how they voted). The ayes were 57; the the nays were 15.

Both Mr. Hudak and PC Health critic Christine Elliott didn't vote. Why didn’t they? And where were the rest of the Conservative MPPs that day, and why did they not vote against the Bill either?

The total seats in the Ontario Legislature is 107 yet there were only 72 votes cast, meaning 35 of yours and my MPPS, didn't vote.

Why didn’t Mr. Hudak do anything to stop this bill from passing? Why didn't he alert Ontarians about its repercussions? Why didn’t he work with the NDP to defeat the Bill? Why didn't he do something, anything?

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada said regarding Access to Information in Canadian Democracy:
“...Informed voting depends on informed debate. Parliament and the executive branch derive their power from the people, who exercise that power by voting for or against particular people at the ballot box. For the people to effectively participate and vote, they must know and understand what the government is doing. Laws are published. But without additional information, the people cannot know how the executive branch of government is administering those laws – what the government is actually doing. And without that knowledge, informed debate is impossible. Accountable, transparent governance thus depends on the people having information about what the government is doing...

...information itself – or the possibility of information coming to light – acts as a check on abuse of powers. Public opinion and debate operate as an immediate check on potential abuse of government power..."

There are two hard lessons here for us.

First. Ms. McLachlin is talking about citizens and how democracy is undermined when we are prohibited from accessing government information. This is exactly what we are now facing with the blackout of all information around abortion services. When a government ceases to be "accountable and transparent" we have no idea "what the government is actually doing". This has tragically come to pass in Ontario.

Second. Think about how Ms. McLachlin's words also apply to our MPPS, and the hair on the back of your neck will stand up. The statement Informed voting depends on informed debate” is a direct message to our opposition MPPs, whose very reason to exist, is to keep the government accountable. The Conservatives failed to do this. They had no idea what was going on; they weren’t informed; they didn’t vote; and they didn’t debate. The result: abuse of power by a government who made a stealth attack on the people of Ontario because the opposition was asleep at the switch.

Democracy is pointless if we don’t practice it.

How the MPPs voted.

Here are the names of the Conservative MPPs who did bother to vote against the bill on Dec. 2, 2010:

Arnott, Ted
Bailey, Robert
Barrett, Toby
Chudleigh, Ted
Dunlop, Garfield
Hardeman, Ernie
Jones, Sylvia
Miller, Norm
Munro, Julia
Ouellette, Jerry J.
Savoline, Joyce
Shurman, Peter
Wilson, Jim
Witmer, Elizabeth
Yakabuski, John

Good for them.

And these MPPs voted for the Bill:

Aggelonitis, Sophia
Albanese, Laura
Arthurs, Wayne
Balkissoon, Bas
Bartolucci, Rick
Bentley, Christopher
Bisson, Gilles
Brown, Michael A.
Cansfield, Donna H.
Chan, Michael
Chiarelli, Bob
Colle, Mike
Crozier, Bruce
Delaney, Bob
Dickson, Joe
DiNovo, Cheri
Dombrowsky, Leona
Duncan, Dwight
Flynn, Kevin Daniel
Fonseca, Peter
Gerretsen, John
Hampton, Howard
Hoskins, Eric
Hoy, Pat
Jaczek, Helena
Johnson, Rick
Kormos, Peter
Kular, Kuldip
Lalonde, Jean-Marc
Leal, Jeff
Levac, Dave
Marchese, Rosario
Matthews, Deborah
McGuinty, Dalton
McNeely, Phil
Meilleur, Madeleine
Miller, Paul
Milloy, John
Mitchell, Carol
Moridi, Reza
Murray, Glen R.
Naqvi, Yasir
Orazietti, David
Phillips, Gerry
Prue, Michael
Pupatello, Sandra
Ramal, Khalil
Rinaldi, Lou
Ruprecht, Tony
Sandals, Liz
Smith, Monique
Sousa, Charles
Takhar, Harinder S.
Van Bommel, Maria
Wilkinson, John
Wynne, Kathleen O.
Zimmer, David

If you feel inclined, you can contact your MPP here.

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