Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Model Parliament - Part I

This weekend was a total blast. I had a whole lot of fun, met some really capable people, who will likely play a role in the CPC in the years to come, and learned a whole lot about how the business of Government is actually conducted.

For the record, here's where I was sitting...

Okay, now on to what all went down.


Walking up the street, and coming into view of the Hill was really amazing. The place really causes me to take pause every time I go there. (I've been there four times before this) But walking up the steps, looking like an MP or a staffer (the whole bit... sharp suit, wool 3/4 length coat, I think I looked the part) We were told to use the main Senate entrance, and I got there behind three other people. From the looks of them, I figured they were Liberals... shows how looks can be deceiving! It was our Model Parliament CPC chief Party whip, Michael, and a couple of others from the Party. So, we all had to do the whole security bit... metal detectors, x-ray of our bags, to get our passes issued. Then it was off to the caucus room.


I'm told that the room we were using for the weekend was the Native Affairs Committee Room... I'm sure that's not quite the correct name, but I think you get the idea. Very nice setup, the room itself just brought everyone up a notch, I'm sure. It was the CPC caucus room for the entire weekend, where we prepped for sitting in the House.

The Senate Chambers

From there, we headed into the House... which for the purposes of the Model Parliament, was actually the Senate Chambers of the Parliament of Canada. Each and every time I walked into that room this weekend, you just had to slow your pace just to take in the surroundings. "I am standing, and about to take a seat, in the Senate of Canada. Wow." So, after finding a good backbench seat in view of my Minister (Shane, Minister of the Environment) we got underway. The real life Usher of the Black Rod came to open the Model Parliament, and gave us a speech about the Senate, and how he found himself to be working there... a long way from where he started, a boy from a small town on Cape Breton Island. A past sentator also gave us a brief series of comments... yet they still took the time to take a shot at Mr. Harper's plan to elect Senators. (They did each made a couple of good points on that issue, and I could agree with those thoughts... if the Senate had not, over the last 80 years, simply become the place where Liberals go to receive their reward for service in the Liberal Party of Canada)


Then, it was to the speeches of the main Party Leaders... starting out with our own Prime Minister, Derek. (we had the most members sign up, with about 49) Then the Leader of the Opposition, the Liberal leader, who's name escapes me. (we didn't have much chance to interact between parties outside of the House... which is a shame) So, the stage was set for the two main parties to square off.

Of course, there were the four other parties. First off, the leader of, and let me see if I get this right... the R. Socialist Syndicallist Front, (I forget what the "R" stood for) made his speech. By far, the funniest of all the leaders, and parties. Their motion during the weekend was for the Government to recognize the sufferage movement of robots... the "poor underclasses of toasters and appliances who for too long have had to bear being cursed at and kicked whenever they malfunction or ..." you get the jist of it. Most of their comments, questions, speeches, were completely over the top, but they added a whole lot of lightheartedness to the weekend that we most certainly needed. Of course, to them, everything was part of a Bourgious conspiracy... oh the hilarity that ensued. And no, to any members of the RSSF who might be reading this, I don't think that each and every city in Canada needs a union built golden statue of Lenin... or that cod stocks off the coast of Nfld. should have the right to unionize... you get the idea. It was great fun.

Then, the leader of Plato's Republicans. Now, before you get sidetracked by the "Republicans" part of the name, they shared NOTHING in common with the USA's GOP. Their opening question to the Prime Minister, in our first Question Period? "Mr. Speaker, I would like to know from the Prime Minister... does he know, 'The Good'?" Answer... "Mr. Speaker... No."

Then, the leader of the Western Reform Party. My oh my, this was a pretty funny bunch too. They had a young guy who looked, sounded, and spoke a little bit like Preston Manning... if he were jacked up on some kind of massive sugar or caffeen rush! He was hilarious! "Mr. Speaker, this Government bill to privitize part of the CBC, this bill doesn't go nearly far enough! When will this Government call for a national referendum on this issue so we can once and for all get rid of this one billion dollar a year money pit!" or something to that effect. He wasn't the leader, but he took on most of the speaking, and did a really good job of it. He got a standing ovation from many at the end of the weekend.

There was also a "Independant Feminist" party, but not your typical feminists. Modern, rational, reasonable, but too few in number to have an official speech. They still got their turn to say and do things in the House, however.

Question Period

Then, it was on to Question Period. Think of any real life session you've seen on the news and on CPAC, and you get the idea... we had the bit down pat. I overheard one of the Liberal guys saying afterwards, "Man, I'm really impressed at how they were able to stay so focused on the real CPC Party message." To which I responded, "Well, to be honest, most of us here really do believe in the Conservative Party... it's not hard to respond the same way when you believe the same things." The claping, the heckling, cries of "SHAME!" when talking about the past deeds of the Liberals, a few well placed calls of "HEAR! HEAR!" when touting the bills or motions of our model government, and a timely rising to our feet when a knock-out shot had just been made at the Opposition... boy, these guys were ready for prime time! Move over John Baird! And the Liberals had one guy who was a pretty good point man for them in QP... move over Mark Holland! He'd be one that I would not be surprise to see do things for them in the future... if we can't poach him, that is. ;-) He was fairly agreeable on issues, to which I'll speak more on in a later post.

So, they took us through the whole process. Question Period, First Reading of Bills, introduction of Motions, etc. It was really interesting. We sat in the House around 2:00, and we sat until about 6:00, if I remember correctly. Then, it was off to the Hard Rock Cafe... but, before that, my Minister and I had a bill to rewrite first.

Writing and Rewriting a Bill

Each major Party, the Conservatives and the Liberals, had the opportunity to introduce a Bill. Ours was for a partial privitization of the CBC. Theirs, was a bill seeking to affirm Canada's committment to the Kyoto Protocol. Of couse, most of our caucus was firmly against it. So, the position that we decided to take was not to turn this into a debate on whether or not Global Warming exists, but to take the bill, make it palitable via a series of ammendments, and then put it back to the House. We knew that some of our caucus would vote against it no matter what, so we couldn't pass our own modified bill. The thinking was that either a palitable bill would be passed with bi-partisan support, or that the Liberals would not support it... which meant the bill died anyway.

So, Shane and I took off to a local mall food court, grabbed some KFC, and got to work. Basically, we stripped a couple of money clauses (that were later deemed to be unconstitutional anyway), inserted a "no purchasing of international carbon emission credits" clause, and left their sections regarding increasing wind generation capacity, issuing credits for fuel efficient vehicles, and energy-efficient homes untouched. In fact, we actually strengthened their section on mandating 5% bio-fuel in all vehicle fuels (we upped it to 10%), thus making it stronger.

Anyway, that's enough for now... later, on to day two! (Second reading and "Committee of the Whole")

(to continue reading Part II, click here)


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