Thursday, December 10, 2009

Things are Definitely Heating up for Harper. I Think it's Going to be a Long Day

This may be a very long day for the Reformers. A motion was brought forward by the Liberals that if passed, places a legally binding commitment on the government to hand over ALL uncensored documents or the Sargent at Arms steps in.

I think they forget that Michael Ignatieff knows international law. The Carr Center at Harvard, that he headed up;deals primarily with foreign policy.

You don't get that job if you don't know a thing or two about international law.

If Harper and his band of thieves, don't comply, this leaves the international courts no option but to begin action.

If they thought they were going to have seven weeks off and then this thing would just die, I think their plans have been foiled.

Mackay's resignation or firing will not be good enough.

UPDATED: Orders of the Day
By Kady O'Malley

UPDATE: Looks like the government has a pretty good idea of how important this particular motion could turn out to be -- at the moment, Conservative members, led off by the deputy house leader, are making the case that it should be declared out of order. What will the speaker do? Follow this post for updates.
Well, it's the last opposition day before the House breaks for the holidays, and it turns out that all they -- or at least, the Liberals -- want for Christmas is ... the full set of documents requested by the Afghanistan committee, "in their original and uncensored form." That's the gist of the following motion,
which will be the object of what is likely to be a lively debate in the Commons today. Spoiler alert: it's the last line that's the kicker:

That, given the undisputed privileges of Parliament under Canada's constitution, including the absolute power to require the government to produce uncensored documents when requested, and given the reality that the government has violated the rights of Parliament by invoking the Canada Evidence Act to censor documents before producing them, the House urgently requires access to the following documents in their original and uncensored form;

all documents referred to in the affidavit of Richard Colvin, dated October 5, 2009;
all documents within the Department of Foreign Affairs written in response to the documents referred to in the affidavit of Richard Colvin, dated October 5, 2009;
all memoranda for information or memoranda for decision sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning detainees from December 18, 2005 to the present;
all documents produced pursuant to all orders of the Federal Court in Amnesty International Canada and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association v. Chief of the Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, Minister of National Defence and Attorney General of Canada;
all documents produced to the Military Police Complaints Commission in the Afghanistan Public Interest Hearings;
all annual human rights reports by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Afghanistan; and
accordingly the House hereby orders that these documents be produced in their original and uncensored form forthwith.

See that bit about 'the House hereby orders'? Matters of parliamentary privilege -- in this case, the "absolute power" to demand the production of documents -- are dealt with entirely within the aegis of Parliament itself; there is no court of appeal or outside authority that makes the final decision on the legitimacy of an order of the House. If the above motion passes -- and there is absolutely no reason to think that it won't, most likely later tonight -- it becomes an order of the House -- which, unlike, for instance, that feel-good Bloc Quebecois motion on what Canada's stance at the Copenhagen conference should be, cannot be simply ignored by a -- or, in this case, the -- government.

Parliament does have powers, as it turns out, although it rarely uses them, and if the government disregards an explicit order, well -- that's when it gets interesting. With a recalcitrant witness, the ultimate remedy involves the Sargent-at-Arms getting into the act -- as we saw during the Mulroney/Schreiber hearings, when the latter was extracted from a Toronto detention facility in order to testify.

Will the House be forced to send a document retrieval squad over to Defence headquarters to pick up the above referenced material? What happens if the departments involved simply refuse to hand it over? Here's hoping that the Speaker wasn't planning on heading too far out of town during the holidays, because he may well find himself forced to break the looming stalemate.

Meanwhile, there are still a handful of committees that haven't yet wrapped up for the year, including Foreign Affairs, which, earlier this week, was the target of a level two humdinger of a filibuster earlier this week, as government members attempted to stave off a vote on an NDP motion on the responsibility to protect Canadians abroad, which may or may not
continue this morning

Public Safety committee
carries on with its study on mental health and addiction within the federal corrections system.

Human Resources
plows onward with clause-by-clause review on the NDP's affordable housing bill, and resumes consideration of the government's proposal to allow self-employed workers to buy into the employment insurance program.

And finally, Citizenship and Immigration
looks at settlement services "best practices"

Oh, and if anyone out there was hoping for a one-day-early reprieve, consider this your official bubble-burster: at the moment, there are votes scheduled for Friday, which means nobody is getting out of here until the final division bell has tolled. Just consider yourselves lucky that nobody is threatening to keep the House sitting until Christmas Eve.

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