Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party railed against the Harper government for hiding from debate in the House of Commons and resorting to procedural trickery to ram through the Conservative agenda. Yet now that Trudeau holds the reins of power, he is quick to cut short debate on the most important topic in a generation being debated in Parliament: euthanasia and assisted-suicide (Bill C-14). The Liberals invoked closure and attempted to take away many of the parliamentary privileges opposition members can employ to hold a government to account.
The Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould insisted “we have heard from every member in the House who wanted to speak. Incredulously, other Liberals suggested that because the opposition parties would not agree to a limited number of all-night sittings, it was actually the Conservatives and NDP who were thwarting debate.
Conservative MP Jason Kenney (Calgary Midnapore) was outraged at cutting the debate short: “I understand that from time to time governments must control the legislative calendar … or to shut down opposition filibusters, but allowing members to speak on a free vote, on a matter of grave moral conscience, is the ancient convention of this place.”
In the now infamous incident, the Prime Minister was in such a hurry to get the debate going that he physically prodded the opposition whip to move quicker and accidently struck an NDP MP with his elbow. It was the perfect metaphor for what the government was doing in hurrying the debate, which is itself a form of avoiding accountability.
Justin Trudeau was elected promising to change the tone of politics and the way things were done in Ottawa. Voters assumed it would be a change for the better, but when it has come to C-14, the current government has proven itself even more contemptful of Parliament and the rights of MPs than the Liberals accused the Tories of being in the previous government.