With Parliament back in session, the federal opposition may be asking more questions but when it comes down to the vote, the majority rules.
After six years of a minority government, MP Alex Atamanenko said it’s been difficult to adjust to the new Conservative majority government.
He just got back to his seat this week after a genetically modified organisms tour in his riding.
“Now that the government has the majority basically they’re in the driver’s seat,” he said. “It’s going to be a very difficult session because they have an agenda and it doesn’t appear they’re going to want to compromise on any of it.”
The government didn’t take long to get back to business, introducing an omnibus crime bill that focuses on raising mandatory minimum sentences, targeting those who exploit children and ending house arrest for those who commit serious or violent crimes.
Beyond pumping money into a system that has seen crime rates decline, Atamanenko is concerned that increasing minimum sentences will only stuff prisons that are already overcrowded.
“One of the sad parts is they’re not allowing a lot of debate on this, they’re shutting down debate on the bill and they want to move it forward as soon as possible,” he said, noting that the “tough-on-crime” bill is only one example of the Conservatives flexing its majority muscle.
Despite opposition from the NDP and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, a recent vote in the House of Commons will see Canadian pilots and sailors patrolling Libya for up to three more months in the NATO-led mission.
“I and my party feel that it’s wrong to extend our military mission and we believe that reflects what most Canadian think and yet they’re going to do this because they’re pushing it through,” said Atamanenko.
Coupled with being on the receiving end of the Conservative agenda, Atamanenko said the House is different without the late Jack Layton and he looks forward to a new leader to fill that void.
“It certainly is different because we’ve always been used to having Jack up there leading the charge,” he said.
“He was our inspiration so obviously it’s difficult.”
Atamanenko is encouraging Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby New Westminster, to run for the federal NDP leadership race.
“I have worked with Peter for the past five years and feel that he is more than qualified to lead our Party. Although he is from British Columbia, he has lived in Quebec and other parts of Canada and has a distinct vision for our country,” he said. “He would make an excellent Prime Minister.”