It was apparent at the beginning of November, 2005 that the Liberal minority government was going to be defeated as it had lost the support of the NDP party.
We at the Bankruptcy Canada Blog, felt that the proposed changes to bankruptcy legislation would be postponed as there were months of hearings from scores of experts and stakeholders still to be heard by the Senate Committee.
We were shocked when we found out that Bankruptcy Reform had been rushed into law on November 25, 2005.
What could have caused such unseemly haste we wondered? Fortunately, we have an exclusive insider report from top Canadian investigative reporter Goldie La Press.
Bankruptcy Reform Law
The Inside Report: Rushing Bankruptcy Reform into law. By GOLDIE LA PRESS Ottawa, January 2, 2006. Bankruptcy Canada Blog
In order to get some insight into the pre election political process I took a position as a waitress at the House of Commons Food Services. I was assigned to serve refreshments at a November 22, 2005, 10:00 am meeting attended by Paul Martin, Jack Layton, Steven Harper and Gilles Duceppe.
After serving them Beluga Caviar and Champagne I waited in a corner of the room. The following is what transpired:
Jack Layton spoke first.
“I called this meeting because of a telephone call I received late last night from Buzz Hargrove,” Layton haughtily announced. “Yes, that’s right. Buzz Hargrove, the head of the CAW, called me personally,” Layton gloated.
As Layton spoke these words both he and Paul Martin clutched at their forelocks in an involuntary show of subservience and respect. Steven Harper looked envious and could be heard to mutter in a whiney voice, “Buzz never calls me.” Gilles Duceppe just looked on in awe.
“Well,” Layton continued. “Buzz is upset because he knows the government’s going to be defeated on November 28th and he wants the Wage Earner Protection Program passed into law before then because he promised his guys it would be done.”
“There’s not enough time,” Paul Martin interjected.
“Paul, how many times have I told you that I don’t like being interrupted by you when I’m speaking,” Layton said crossly, casting a withering look at Paul Martin.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” Martin said in a contrite tone of voice.
“Just don’t let it happen again,” Layton scolded. “Now, does anyone have any serious objections to this?”
“We can’t do that because the proposed legislation as it stands is flawed,” Gilles Duceppe pointed out. “It requires many changes which I think we all recognize. I’ll give just one example. The way the law treats student debt is unconscionable, unfair and discriminatory because students are the only group that cannot wipe out their debt in a bankruptcy in the time afforded all other dischargeable debt, and that includes income tax debt too! It is also in violation of one of the major tenets of Canadian bankruptcy – that an honest but unfortunate debtor deserves a fresh financial start. Why, we have students in the same category as deadbeat dads who have not made their alimony or maintenance payments, people who obtain assets by misrepresentation and awards of damages by a court for intentionally inflicting bodily harm or sexual assault. The new proposed legislation requires a wait of seven years before student loan debt can be erased in a bankruptcy.”
“Gilles, students and young people in general don’t vote,” Layton pointed out. “Duuh!”
Martin and Harper nodded in agreement at these words.
“What about the Senate? They have to have a sober second look at this legislation,” Duceppe said in a final attempt to win the other three over to his point of view.
This comment was greeted by uproarious laughter from the three. “Sober second look,” someone called out. “Not if it’s in the afternoon after their lunch, wine and cocktails.”
This was greeted by more laughter to which Duceppe joined in too.
“Don’t worry about the Senate,” Martin said. “They’ll do what we tell them to do.”
“OK guys. It’s decided then. We pass the bill into law before the government is defeated.
Right,” Layton said.
The other three agreed.
“Can I call Buzz and tell him the good news?” Martin pleaded. “Can I, Jack?”
“No Paul. You can’t do that. Buzz called me first so I’m going to call him back. Not you,” Layton said firmly.
As they got up to leave Steven Harper noticed that there was still lots of caviar and Champagne left over. “What are we going to do with all of this?”
“Don’t worry Steven,” Paul Martin said. “We’re gong to donate this to a food bank so we can help the poor people.”
“Good idea! Super thing to do for the poor people,” they all agreed.
Layton was overcome with emotion at the thought of the good they were doing for the poor people and wiped a tear from his eye as he and the others left the meeting room.