By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 30, 2012 - 0 Comments
I’m told a vote on C-290 might not come until January, but third reading debate in the Senate began yesterday with a speech from Conservative Senator Bob Runciman, the sponsor of the bill in the red chamber.
Make no mistake: If you vote against this bill, you are not voting to put a stop to single-event sports gambling, but you are voting to ensure it remains in the shadows, with the money going offshore and to organized crime.
No one knows for sure how much money is bet on single sporting events by Canadians, but we know it is in the billions, perhaps the tens of billions of dollars. Voting against this bill will not change it one bit. The testimony from experts at committee was clear: Single-event sports betting is readily available and widely practised by Canadians.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Saskatchewan Tory MP Brad Trost called it “the equivalent of passing it in the middle of the night.” ”It didn’t follow proper democratic due diligence in the House of Commons,” he said. “There seems to have been a deal done.”
Manitoba Conservative MP Lawrence Toet also voiced concerns about the process and said it was known a number of MPs had concerns about C-290.
The New Democrats have written to
Conservative Senator Bob Runciman, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate,all senators to argue that there was nothing wrong with how the bill advanced through the House. Here (pdf) is a copy of that letter.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 1:41 PM - 0 Comments
The Windsor Star says if the Senate defeats C-290 it will be another reason to implement the Harper government’s proposed reforms.
Needless to say, senators are appointed and unaccountable — and that is the real issue that the handling of Bill C-290 should be raising. Hopefully, the controversy over the sports betting bill will spur renewed interest in the Commons to back Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign to implement reform in the Senate, long seen as a patronage retreat for party hacks who are overpaid, underworked and answerable to virtually no one…
We trust senators, over the next few days, will come to understand the importance of the sports betting bill to communities like Windsor and eventually endorse it. Even that, however, won’t diminish the need for Senate reform.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Among Michael Chong’s objections to C-290, Joe Comartin’s sports betting bill, is the manner in which it passed the House. Via email, I asked him how the bill ended up passing unanimously. Here is his explanation.
I did not know it was going to be passed unanimously.
I made my intention to request a standing vote (and my opposition to the bill) known. Normally, that happens at end of the second hour of debate at third reading when members “stand five” to request a standing vote.
Report stage and first hour of debate at third reading took place on Friday, March 2nd. The second hour of debate was to have taken place several weeks later. That never happened because, that Friday, debate was forced to collapse, the question put and adopted unanimously.
As to why the members lined up to speak were told not to get up and speak thereby collapsing debate, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask the House leaders.
Instead of two hours of debate at third reading, C-290 seems to have received 20 minutes of debate.
I asked the NDP if the party’s House leader or whip told any NDP MP not to speak to the bill. The NDP says no.
I asked Peter Van Loan’s office if Conservative members were told not to speak to C-290. The Government House leader’s office responded that “no one who opposed the bill sought an opportunity to speak on the day of debate in the House.”
(I’ve also asked the Liberals if any of their MPs were told to refrain from speaking and will post whatever I receive in response.)
Update 12:36pm. Liberal House leader Marc Garneau responds to my query.
As you know, Kevin Lamoureux did in fact speak from the Liberal side. No one else chose to speak. No MP was instructed not to speak and no direction to that effect came from either the Whip or House Leader.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:03 PM - 0 Comments
Finally, single game betting undermines the integrity of professional and amateur sport. There has not been a major betting scandal in North America since Major League Baseball created the Commissioner of Baseball in response to the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. In Europe, where single game betting is legal, sport is rife with game-fixing scandals. Professional leagues, along with the NCAA (of which Simon Fraser University is a member), will take a tough line on Canada if this bill passes. The NCAA bans all championships in jurisdictions where single game betting is legalized.
A very different, and perhaps the most important, reason for the Senate to defeat this bill is process. The Globe and Mail reported that “this bill was passed unanimously by the House.” In fact, a number of MPs, myself included, are opposed to this bill. In a highly unusual occurrence, debate on this bill collapsed and it passed through all stages without a standing vote. To my knowledge, no opposition private members’ bill has ever passed through the House of Commons in this manner. For this reason, a defeat of this bill would not be inconsistent with the wishes of the House, as those wishes were never properly recorded in a vote.
I suppose it depends on your definition of “major,” but the last century of North American pro sports isn’t quite clean: including Pete Rose, Tim Donaghy, Alex Karras and Paul Hornung and various NCAA point-shaving scandals.
Senator David Braley, who owns the B.C. Lions and the Toronto Argonauts, supports the bill.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 4:59 PM - 0 Comments
Greg Fingas considers the ramifications of the Senate (potentially) defeating the sports betting bill.
It’s been glaringly obvious to those of us paying attention that the Cons have set up plenty of means to keep dictating the terms of Canadian politics from beyond the political grave – with the most obvious being their continued stacking of the Senate which will put at least a formal roadblock in the way of any future government for many years to come.
As a result, any opposition party with an ounce of foresight would know better than to send the message that unelected Senators should consider themselves free to overrule elected Members of Parliament – particularly when a bill has been passed unanimously among the representatives chosen by Canadian voters.
Depending on the eventual fate of Senate reform, it could take two consecutive election victories by either the New Democrats or Liberals to replace the Conservative majority in the Senate. And even—especially?—if the Senate moves toward some kind of elected body, a future showdown between it and a sitting government should be up for consideration now. (The NDP seems already, if quietly, to be thinking about this.)
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 8:21 AM - 0 Comments
“There’s certainly a real effort to defeat the bill,” said Conservative Senator Bob Runciman, who is sponsoring the legislation in the Senate but describes himself as an “unenthusiastic” supporter. “A number of senators in the Conservative caucus are adamantly opposed to the bill.”
The former Ontario cabinet minister said there are several reasons why senators oppose the bill – including personal feelings about gambling and concern about the lack of debate the bill received in the House. But Mr. Runciman suggested there are other factors motivating the resistance. “Some people see this as an opportunity to send a message that we’re alive and well,” he said. “It’s going to be an interesting period of time dealing with this bill.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
“I don’t understand their argument for Ontarians that it’s OK to bet on three games, but not two or one. Why is it OK for Ontarians to go to Vegas and bet on games, but not at Caesars Windsor? If you don’t regulate the issue, it’s organized crime that bettors turn to bet on sporting events.”
… Masse said the league’s argument that gambling could taint the integrity of the game isn’t credible when a number of team owners are already in the gaming industry. Detroit Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch own the Motor City Casino while Boston Bruins’ owner Jeremy Jacobs also has gaming interests. “I don’t think there’s a lot of merit to this (league’s objections), considering what’s included in some owners income streams,” Masse said. “It’s naïve, because anything that passes through the criminal element, ignoring it is not a solution. Doing the ostrich move, burying your head in the sand, is not beneficial to anyone, including the league’s own product.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has added his voice to the debate, saying in an emailed statement to Postmedia News: “We too oppose the proposed legislation and we hope to have the opportunity to voice our concerns to the Canadian Senate in the near future.”
Now that Joe Comartin is the deputy speaker, the NDP’s Brian Masse seems to be the lead spokesman for the bill, but here is the speech Mr. Comartin gave in the House a year ago when it was presented for second reading. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
“The legalization of single-event sports betting by any government would increase the chances that persons gambling on games will attempt to influence the outcome of those games,” Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays, told the Senate…
Mr. Beeston said baseball management also fears an erosion of confidence in the game “Losing bettors and fans … may in turn become suspicious of every strikeout or error, and the game’s integrity would be open to question play by play, day after day,” he said. “If large numbers of our fans come to regard baseball only, or even partially, as a gambling vehicle, the very nature of the sport will be altered and harmed.”