Hi friends, Welcome back to the Sarah Swain Show, sponsored by The Parliament. The Parliament is a membership platform I created for free thinkers, innovators and solution seekers that are ready to create anew. In this space you can connect with like-minded people across Canada while I support you in enhancing your Canadian political knowledge and bolster your confidence in your own self expression. Become a Member of The Parliament for $22/month by using promo code AWAKE to save 50% off until March 11, 2022. Visit www.trailblazermedia.ca/parliament to join today.
Today I’m diving into Parliamentary Bills. I’m not going to go over the process because you can look that up quite easily on ourcommons.ca or sencanada.ca. It’s not a confusing process at all if you just take 5 minutes and look it up. What makes it FEEL confusing is the back and forth, the multiple stages, the debates and unfortunately the rhetoric in the House that comes with it, that truthfully can be super hard to take when you’re watching live. I will give The Senate some credit, though. They seem to have a much greater sense of amicability and respect for one another, even during heated debates.
What I DO want to share in this episode is how to increase your own level of credibility when approaching your MP ABOUT a Bill. So a popular question I receive almost daily is whether or not there is a template to send out to their MP to voice their support or opposition on a Bill. Truthfully, that’s literally all you need to say. I support or I don’t support Bill____. But let’s be honest about two things.
1. While it’s a fast and easy thing to do, and it’s a trillion X better than doing nothing. Your input matters, even if it’s brief and to the point. We can probably agree that it’s not as impactful on your MP or your MPs team as what’s missing here is the understanding of WHY you’re opposed to the Bill.
2. Secondly, and a potentially unpopular opinion here but while sending an email vs not sending an email is ALWAYS better, can you be honest with yourself about whether or not you do truly understand the Bill you’re emailing about?
Now I want to add here, that this is in NO WAY meant to make you feel as though the action you may already be taking isn’t enough. What I have been so elated by in the last month alone is the landslide of messages I receive about people even just paying ATTENTION to Canadian politics, let alone taking any action or getting involved in any way. And I want to say how freaking proud I am of you if you have allowed yourself to start listening, learning & observing - even if you haven’t taken any formal action yet. It matters. It matters in ways that are mor significant than you could possibly imagine.
I know it might feel like you, as one person, can’t make a difference.
It may feel like you get nowhere with your MP. Maybe they don’t even reply.
It may feel like doom and gloom when your MP does respond and it’s not the response you wanted.
It may feel like there is no point in voting.
It may feel like the greater agenda is too big to fight.
It may feel like after the dismantling of the Ottawa convoy that everyone has just gone back to their everyday lives.
Or whatever other thoughts or emotions you may be experiencing that lead you to believe that there is no point.
I want to remind you of this fact.
There has never been more people than there are today, taking an interest in politics.
There has never been more people than there are today, waking up to the reality of what’s coming our way in Canada.
There has never been more people using their voices and platforms to spread awareness.
There has never been more people having brave conversations in their homes, workplaces, schools or social settings.
So while it can feel defeating and utterly hopeless some days, remember how much traction we’re actually gaining every single day. It’s important to adjust our expectations here, too. Knowing that this is a long game we’re playing. To expect that ALL OF A SUDDEN change will happen overnight after people ALL OF A SUDDEN started paying attention and taking action, isn’t really a fair expectation to hold. So understand that while this process will test your patience, believe that we gain momentum every single day, and that taking action, even when it feels futile, is better than taking no action at all.
Anyway, back to my point about the Bills. You may have never bothered to look at a Bill in your life, and that’s okay. It’s not exactly something that our educational institutions empowered us to do growing up so it’s quite natural to be a person who has simply lived their life with the assumption that politicians will always act in the best interest of their constituents. So if you’ve never read a Bill before, now’s a great time to start.
Because here’s what I think you’ll learn.
* I think you’ll learn that the ENTIRE Bill isn’t something you completely support OR oppose in its entirety.
* I think you’ll learn that there are sections of the Bill you agree with, and sections of the Bill you don’t, and sections of the Bill you have some concerns with and want further clarification on.
And this is why the legislative process is so important. This is why the debates in The House and The Senate are so important. You may be under the impression that a Bill is something that is presented once, debated and voted on and that’s not quite how it works. The stages Bills go through are to give room for the exact same process you would appreciate as a citizen reading and understanding the Bill, being given a chance to argue certain points, seek further clarification and make amendments that you would feel more comfortable supporting if the bill were to be passed.
And Bill C-11, or C-10 originally - An Act to Amend the Broadcasting Act, or The Online Streaming Act is a really excellent example of this. When the Liberal Party presented the Bill for the first time in 2020, it rose the hairs on the backs of our necks because of the gaping holes it left wide open for the Government to have sweeping powers over our freedom of speech online. But through each stage of the reading and the debates that came with it, MPs were able to call out many of these concerns within sections of the Bill and really tighten things up. Now we know that Bill passed The House in June 2021 and went to the Senate for their readings & debates to either approve or defeat the bill. Due to the election being called in September, Parliament was terminated before the Bill was reviewed by The Senate.
Now this is my error as I have spoken on this quite a bit, but I failed to consider the election process here as technically that triggers all Parliamentary transactions to be dropped from the Order paper. Which means, if a Bill was not given royal assent by the time Parliament dissolves, the Bill would need to be reintroduced to the House as though it never existed. This is why you see the House actively debating this Bill again, even though they passed it last year.
So having the Bill before the House again is actually a positive thing, even though it’s quite certain it will be approved again and head to the Senate just like last year. But this gives more of an opportunity for further tightening of the more concerning components of this Bill. Now going back to my whole point of this episode, do you know what concerns you about Bill C-11? Do you know what points you support? Do you know what points you vehemently oppose?
This is why I invite you to read the Bill. And i’ll link it up in the show notes too so it’s easy for you to find. But can you agree, that if you were to email your MP to state that you have concerns pertaining to a certain section of the bill and articulate why?
Can you agree this holds a heavier weight?
Can you agree that even if your MP disagrees with you more, it becomes clearer to our politicians that they’re going to have to work harder to answer to us? The people that pay their salaries?
Can you agree that if we collectively did a better job of this overtime, that politicians would begin to realise there has BEEN a collective shift in the people and that the days of letting our politicians run on autopilot, without our input are over?
This is how we win the long game.
And while sitting down and reading a bill might not be something you even have time for, let alone the desire to do, especially when so many are in order simultaneously… can you make it a point to prioritise even just one a month? Or maybe one that you find particular interesting, exciting or concerning?
Can you make it fun?
Can you make a monthly date with your bestie to grab a bottle of wine and some charcuterie to review a Bill and debate it with one another?
Can you get your spouse involved? Or your kids?
Can you bust out a white board or some post-it notes to share what you all feel you agree with, or disagree with?
Can you get a group of your friends and family together and host your own friendly debate night and mock vote for a bill?
It doesn’t need to be boring and it doesn’t need to feel like something that takes up time from other important things in life. THIS is important for everyone. But it’s a matter of us acknowledging its importance and then giving it our attention. This is truly why I created The Parliament membership too, so together we can dive in, learn and take empowered & meaningful action with confidence.
So check out the links I’ve left in the show notes. I hope this episode inspires you to realise how much really IS within our power. So please share it out. Tag me on Instagram at @iamsarahswain or @trailblazermediagroup to let me know you’re listening or what you’re taking away.
Thanks for spending time with me here today, friends.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
Join The Parliament! https://www.trailblazermedia.ca/parliament
Active Bills - https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/en/bills
House of Commons Legislative Process - https://www.ourcommons.ca/about/OurProcedure/LegislativeProcess/c_g_legislativeprocess-e.htm
Senate Legislative Process - https://sencanada.ca/en/about/procedural-references/notes/n5
Parliamentary Cycle - Prorogation & Dissolution - https://www.ourcommons.ca/MarleauMontpetit/DocumentViewer.aspx?Sec=Ch08&Seq=7