Dougald Lamont speaks out strongly against the "reprehensible", "legally and morally indefensible" Bill 2
Early in the morning, just after 3 am, on November 6th, Dougald Lamont spoke at third reading of Bill 2, the Budget Implementation and Statutes Amendment Act. He spoke strongly against the bill because it attempts to legitimize a historic injustice against children in the care of child and family services. As Dougald says this bill is "the betrayal of children, First Nations and the people of this province."
Mr. Dougald Lamont (St. Boniface): These are historic times. This is an historic budget, for all the wrong reasons.
I was thinking of the Premier's (Mr. Pallister) comments about D-Day today and my relatives who served in combat in the First and Second World War. I had a relative who played for the Blue Bombers and served at D-Day with the Winnipeg Rifles because he was an excellent athlete, he made it quite a long way up the beach.
And had he lived until last year, he might have been one of the veterans the Premier insulted by not showing up at a D-Day memorial because he was on a corporate junket with his ministers. That's the kind of respect he showed to our veterans.
I think of my great-uncle Robert, who was shot down in a training flight and crawled back into the burning wreckage to save his instructor. And I contrast that with the complete cowardice of the MLAs who are considering voting for this bill. It's legally and it's morally indefensible and they know it.
The member from Portage, a former minister, called the NDP's decision to take the special allowance illegal and immoral because children in CFS are vulnerable.
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Madam Speaker: Order. There is somebody speaking in debate.
Mr. Lamont: They are vulnerable to criminal predators and gangs. They end up missing. They end up murdered. They end up in jail. They end up homeless, sleeping under bridges.
And if Manitobans and Canadians ever wonder why thousands of Indigenous people struggle in poverty, you would be poor too if the government stole $338 million from you and gave you a bus ticket to the Salvation Army and then passed a law saying you could never go to court to get your own money back.
Now, earlier in this evening–or, this morning, I heard someone on open mic taking pleasure in how angry the member for St. Johns (Ms. Fontaine) was when a vote was called, and earlier this evening, I confronted a number of ministers, outside, who chose to pay a visit to the teepee where I spent half my weekend fasting in protest over this bill.
And I was very angry, and they were certainly taken aback because it's clear to me they have no concept that someone in this place could possibly care about anyone but themselves. But for the ministers of this government to take a happy little break to go visit the site of a peaceful protest before they had to go vote to legalize the theft of $338 million is beyond nauseating. It is morally bankrupt. It's a bit like taking a break from the Wannsee Conference to go visit the Warsaw ghetto.
And I have said many times there are good people in every party but let's be absolutely clear: this clause crosses a very dangerous line. This is a historic injustice. This is a historic theft. This undermines the rule of law. It is the betrayal of children, First Nations and the people of this province.
You know, Hannah Arendt had an insight that evil is banal, that it is justified by people who say they're just following orders. And I watched tonight as the member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard) spoke of this travesty and I watched as the member for Fort Richmond (Mrs. Guillemard) and the member for Rossmere (Mr. Micklefield) snickered and giggled and ignored it.
Every member who votes for this bill–which I am sure they will–will lose any moral authority they could ever lay claim to. If you can vote for this, it means you have no moral compass. Don't talk to me about Tommy Prince. Don't talk about Peguis. Don't talk about Orange Shirt Day. Don't talk about justice and don't talk about sacrifice.
Ask yourselves: Is this what you got into politics for? Because when you talk to your family tomorrow morning and you ask why you were up so late, you can tell them that you voted to take away the right of Indigenous children to sue get–to get money that you stole from them and then, when you were given a choice to do the right thing at a historic moment, you passed on it.
We will keep fighting this. We want this to go to the Supreme Court. Not just so that those children can get the money back, but so that every single person responsible pays the price for this disgusting perversion of justice.
This is a disgusting bill. It is absolutely reprehensible that this is even being considered.
We are going to vote no.