Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Event Blogging: "How Ideas Get Turned Into Law" by Joseph Ben-Ami

It is important to understand how ideas become laws if we want to develop effective strategies. This is one of the reason why we have different organizations instead of one giant one, because they can contribute at different stages of lawmaking.

When it comes to making laws Parliament is almost entirely suprifulous. The Cabinet is really the law making body in our country. The Cabinet can sometimes pass laws without going through the whole Parliament ringmarole. They are prevented from doing this in practice because Parliament holds the money bag and can punish a Cabinet who insults them. It is important to realize this because if we are focusing on lobbying people it is far better to focus on Cabinet Ministers than backbenchers or opposition MPs. It is exceptionally difficult to get a legislation through without Cabinet's support.

The real benefit of a private member's bill is communication. A bill is a piece of legislation. To become law it needs to pass Parliament and the Senate, going through three votes and a committee at each level. It really needs government support to go anywhere. The real question when you are writing a private member's bill is not what will happen if it passes, but what will be the impact of introducing it and having it discussed. Changing the law is our goal, not our stratagy. We need to be more cautious, and more aware of the demoralizing effect constantly losing has on volunteers and members. If we use all of our strength on bills we know won't pass is it the best use of our time? If you ask people to write 2, 3, 4, letters that don't work they may start to ask what the point is.

The key to getting the law changed is not to elect MPs that agree with your goals. The key is to elect a political party which agrees with your goals. We don't have a political party that opposes abortion. We try to elect as many pro-life MPs as possible but what we really need is to elect a pro-life government. During the marriage debate, when the Liberals were pro-gay, some people worked to elect Liberal pro-marriage candidates when it would have been better to work towards getting a pro-marriage government in.

Cabinet controls what happens.

It is also important to remember the beurocracy. They do have influence. We need to take our lobbying of them seriously.

We have a system that can only change incrementally. Whether we like that or not that is the reality.

The 64,000 dollar question is, what about provincial governments? Abortion for example is funded at the provincial level. We can do a great deal on a provincial level rather than spending a lot of time lobbying backbenchers to support private members bills that have no effect. Education is a major issue that can be dealt with locally. Centralised curriculum is a big problem. Our schools are engines of social change today and those who control the curriculum and education are those who shape social norms.

You can get involved in either federal, provincial, and municipal politics. Municipal politics is not as glamourous but it is the most effective and has the most impact on people's day to day life.

It is not good enough to simply have goals. We need a plan. We need to demand exellence of ourselves as individuals and organizations.

Okay I missed a bunch of questions or statements after this as well, sorry again.

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