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Committee commotion

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The Public Safety committee was supposed to be debating one by one, the clauses of bill C-391 today. That’s Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner’s bill to eliminate the gun registry on unrestricted long guns.

But for 40 minutes at least the committee went around and around and around about whether to delay the debate that included a motion to delay, lengthy arguments about why that was good or bad, and then even a debate about whether or not the motion to delay could be withdrawn.

The NDP want to postpone because NDP Justice critic Joe Comartin isn’t in attendance (apparently he’s attending another meeting about Afghanistan), he was the one who sat through the hearings, he has some amendments to make and therefore they want him to be there.

The Conservatives and the Bloc don’t want to postpone because they have worked hard to prepare, there are other pressing issues to deal with next week and Mr. Comartin doesn’t have a right to delay everyone just because he has a more pressing meeting to attend.

The Liberals suggested only debating clause-by-clause at the next meeting (when it was also on the agenda) but not putting a time limit on the meeting to ensure the entire thing could happen prompting further rounds of arguments as to why that also was or was not acceptable.

The irony about how much time they have now wasted to complain and discuss about whether or not delaying clause-by-clause debate would be wasting time, should not be lost on anyone.

Unfortunately the amount of time wasted in these committees debating procedures, who gets to speak when, for how long, about what, and how petty they can get about all of those things is ridiculous. Everyone seems to feel the need to get a chance to speak even if they have nothing new to add. And most of them want to speak it appears only to throw barbs at their opponents and make partisan statements and complaints.

It seemed there would be a Hallelujah moment when the NDP tried to withdraw the motion to postpone.

You’d think that might actually have gotten the thing going. But no. The Bloc Quebecois’s Maria Mourani wanted to finish her statement complaining about the delay even though there no longer was a delay. And then chair Gerry Breitkreuz told the NDP they can’t even withdraw the motion to delay without the committee’s approval which prompted, you guessed it, another round of debate.

It’s really not a wonder it can take a lifetime to get a bill through Parliament.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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