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Didn’t I warn you guys about calling it NAFTAGate? – Liveblogging Gov’t Ops


 

Short version: Pack your bags, nameless PMO and Foreign Affairs officials, you’re coming to Ottawa. Motion to study the Lynch report passes easily, with barely a peep of protest from the government.

9:27:46 AM
Alrighty then. I’m back from the cafeteria; refreshed, renewed and ready for some hot government-on-opposition action.

A quick recap for those who missed the last liveblog: Government Operations and Estimates is about to begin debate on a motion from Liberal MP Mark Holland to look into the Lynch report on the Whole NAFTA Leak Thing, which is a clever bit of procedural sleight of hand, since it will allow the committee to investigate the leak without straying outside the bounds of its mandate.

Even money on whether the Conservative side of the table filibusters a vote on the motion, which they will almost certainly lose, since the opposition is united on this one.

Right now, though, I’m half-listening to Daryl Kramp question a defence contractor, who claims that his company was treated unfairly by the department – something about not being allowed to bid. I’ll confess to missing most of the opening statement, since I was (perhaps foolishly) hoping that this portion of the meeting would have wrapped up by the time I got back. It sounds like they’ve got a pretty good case, but again, I don’t know the background.

Unfortunately for the government, this alleged outrage didn’t happen during those thirteen years of Liberal perfideous procurement policy, but after they took over, which takes all the fun out of it, as far as the Conservatives on the committee are concerned.

9:36:45 AM

I’m starting to flash back to last week’s Ethics meeting, when the Conservatives managed to run down the clock on a motion to investigate the in and out scandal. (By the way, that motion? Up for debate at Ethics again this afternoon—and this time, there are no witnesses to hold hostage.

9:49:15 AM
The only thing keeping me from giving up entirely on the vote eventually happening is the fact that, unlike what happened at Ethics, the government members aren’t all that keen on the idea of giving these particular witnesses more airtime. After all, there’s always a chance—no matter how slight—that a lost journalist might accidentally stumble into the room. Plus, this witness seems like he’d be fine with talking for the full two hours, or even longer.

10:00:21 AM
James Moore is here, which is not all that surprising; it is Public Works, after all, that is being accused of presiding over procurement improprieties—and who better than the parliamentary secretary to defend the honour of the department, and the minister?

10:05:42 AM
Holy crap, the company is suing the government for $250 million? That just… sounds like a lot of money.

10:12:03 AM
I bet those grim-faced bureaucrat types behind me are from Public Works.

10:17:52 AM
Hurray! The chair just thanked the witness for coming, and sent him on his way! “That’s all for me?” He asks, wonderingly.

The meeting is suspended for five minutes, and when we get back, it’s Holland motion time!

10:22:44 AM
Daryl Kramp would like me to tell you all that he did not pull a Hanger at last week’s meeting – when the motion first appeared on the agenda, but time ran out before the vote could be called.

10:24:41 AM
And we’re back! Chris Warkentin is first up (he was actually in mid-speech at the end of the last meeting). But he winds up pretty quickly

10:26:07 AM
Here comes the vote and, as we all expected, the motion passes easily. Of course, the investigation won’t get underway until the fall, but still.

And with that, the committee goes in camera, which means I’m kicked out into the sunshine, feeling just a little cheated. I wanted debate, darn it! Then again, I may get more debate than I could dream of this afternoon at Ethics, so perhaps I should count this as a serendipity.


 

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