Daily Times Editorial 24 October 2019

Bypassing parliament

The government must be appreciated for introducing laws for good governance but the path often chosen for legislation – ordinances – should be avoided. True, the presidential ordinance is a legal instrument to introduce laws but at the same time it shrinks the presence of parliament. On Tuesday, the federal cabinet sanctioned eight ordinances, mostly about the judiciary, and also about women’s rights and NAB’s treatment of under-trial prisoners. The cabinet gave the go ahead to the following ordinances: the Letter of Administration and Succession Certificates Ordinance of 2019; the Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Ordinance of 2019; the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) (Amendment) Ordinance of 2019; the Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Ordinance of 2019; the National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance of 2019; the Legal Aid and Justice Authority Ordinance 2019 and Whistle-Blowers Act. Laws regarding women’s property rights, benami transactions, legal aid and whistle blowers can prove to be game changers if implemented in letter and spirit. The blot of the ordinance, however, will remain hovering over the government’s working style.
The government may justify the overuse of ordinances by explaining its numerical poverty in the Senate. In the lower house, it enjoys a majority. The best course for the government will be taking laws to both houses for thorough debate and consensus. In the past, we have seen that opposition benches often agree with the government when legislation is about durable reforms. The PPP government from 2008 to 2013 passed the landmark 18th Amendment by including all parliamentary parties in the committee tasked with drafting it. The amendments introduced after the 18th Amendment have all been the work of collective wisdom. The incumbent ruling party got the Fata merger amendment only by avoiding solo flight. So far, the government has been creating an impression that it does not want to work with the opposition inside and outside the parliament.
Presidential ordinances will keep coming to the federal cabinet for approval as under the 18th Amendment, the duration of an ordinance can be 120 days twice, and the second lease of life must be approved by one of the houses of parliament. What will the government do once the eight month lifespan of these ordinances expires? It will have to wait till March 2021 for Senate elections when the government hopes to get a majority in the upper house.

 

 

Canada elections — good news for climate

 

Canada hardly makes international headlines. Four years ago it was, however, in the international news with the election of a charismatic and smart prime minister, Justin Trudeau. His reelection in the closely contested poll shows the cycle of history. His father Pierre Trudeau won the 1968 election with a majority but won the following election with a minority. The ruling Liberal Party won the most votes in parliament but lost its majority. It is time for Justin Trudeau to contact smaller parties to make government and pass legislation. Given the agenda of the rival Conservative party, the reelection of Justin Trudeau is good news not only for Canadians but the whole world. In his victory speech, he offered an olive branch to those who opposed him, saying he would work for them every day as Canadians elected a progressive government that will fight climate change.
Looking back, the four years of Justin Trudeau in power achieved many milestones. He picked a racially-balanced cabinet, embraced an influx of refugees, introduced carbon-controlling measures and put the Canadian economy on the right track. Implementing a carbon tax needs strong nerves, which Justin Trudeau has exhibited. The recent results show that his charm is losing the shine even though he faced a charmless, vision-less opposition in elections. His arch rival, Andrew Scheer, had no clear-cut policies on burning issues like same-sex marriage and abortion and his plan to shelve the carbon tax cost the conservatives dearly. It is the time they track the promises made by Justin Trudeau in the elections on climate change, plantation of two billion trees and adaptation of substantially more ambitious greenhouse emission goals. The main goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
How much is the election in Canada relevant to Pakistan? Very much, it is safe to say. Canadian-Pakistanis make the sixth largest immigrant community. A majority of over 215,000 Canadians of Pakistani origin supported the Liberals in the elections because of Justin Trudeau’s pro-immigration policies and postures. Similarly, a large number of Pakistani students are in Canadian colleges and universities. In 2017, the volume of bilateral trade was $1.04 billion, where Pakistan’s exports stand at $351 million. Being led by two pro-tree plantation campaigners, Imran Khan and Justin Trudeau, Pakistan and Canada can see eye to eye with each other on many issues for a better tomorrow.
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