Liveblogging PROC: We’ll stop blogging when he stops talking – the return of the killer filibuster (From the archives)


10:58:45 AM

It’s baaack -
the Procedure and House Affairs committee, that is, after an enforced
time out that sent opposition parties into a collective fit of pique.
The morbidly curious can read the original posts for details; suffice it to say that no one knows exactly what’s going to happen today.

The
chair – Gary Goodyear, a Conservative, and at the moment, a man who
looks like he’d rather be anywhere but here – may try to pretend
there’s nothing controversial about his decision to suspend the last
meeting, despite the all-opposition-party condemnation at yesterday
morning’s press conference.

So will it be a repeat of Tuesday’s
marathon one man ramblethon? Not if the opposition gets it way, as far
as forcing the chair to admit that the meeting was adjourned, not
suspended, which would mean Lukiwski’s time has ran out.

11:04:03 AM
And
it’s on. Before the chair could even put down the gavel, Bloc Quebecois
MP Michel Guimond calls shenanigans on the way the last meeting ended.
He claims that the chair was out of order, but Goodyear defends
himself, and says that the Standing Orders back him up. He won’t,
however, make it an official
ruling. He’s just making an administrative decision, which is an
important differentiation, because that means the opposition can’t
vote to overturn him.

Tom Lukiwski is poised and ready to resume
his filibustering, but Guimond isn’t giving an inch. The Liberals are
asking for a second opinion from the clerk, but Goodyear seems oddly
unenthusiastic about that prospect.

11:09:41 AM
The
chair is getting snippy already. “I’ve already attended grade three,”
he sniffs at Guimond, in response to an imagined slight over his
knowledge of procedural law. He claims that there’s no reason to make a
ruling on the matter. Now the NDP is getting in on the act. “I’m happy
to entertain a motion of non-confidence,” Goodyear begins. “Good,”
snaps Godin. Oh yes, this is going to go well.

11:13:57 AM
For
the moment, the government seems to have won this round—Lukiwski is
talking, and that’s really all he wanted. The longer he talks, the
further it delays the vote on whether to hold hearings into the ‘In and
Out’ scandal.

Picking up pretty much where he left off, Lukiwski
promises to “reemphasize” his points from the previous day. The short
version: Elections Canada is totally picking on us, but if we can
investigate those other parties, we’ll let them investigate us.

11:25:43 AM
So
far, there doesn’t seem to be much conspiring between opposition
members, although it could be happening in the hallway outside, or via
berry. That, or they’re resigned to waiting him out. When I got here,
there was a lively pre-meeting debate amongst early-arriving government
and opposition members over the longest committee filibuster ever,
which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence that I’ll be able to make
it to the cafeteria before heading upstairs to Ethics, the chef and the
former Mulroney flack.

11:29:51 AM
The
chair just warned Lukiwski not to repeat himself. Guimond snorts. “What
a good chair,” he snides. “So good for the opposition.” It’s amazing
how fluent he is in sarcasm. Now he’s shaking his finger at
Lukiwksi—who noted that Guimond is also “under investigation” by Elections Canada. Oh, and now he’s waving. At least someone is enjoying himself.

11:34:57 AM
As
was the case on Tuesday, there’s a sizeable contingent of Peter Van
Loan staffers in the audience. Not sure what this says about the
government’s attitude towards this filibuster—or, as they would likely
describe it, this informative and thorough lecture on electoral law.

11:40:15 AM
Marcel
Proulx interrupts the monologue with a question about the relevance of
quoting journalists. The chair doesn’t see anything wrong with that,
and Lukiwski threatens to read the whole thing into the record. The
article in question, for the record, it seems to be one of those ‘oh,
heavens, what’s all the fuss?’ columns by John Ivison, who spent a lot
of time grumbling about all the attention that the expense controversy
had garnered, despite the fact that it wasn’t nearly as bad as the
sponsorship scandal. Way to set that bar high, National Post!

11:50:21 AM
Apparently,
if the committee agrees to his motion to investigate all four parties,
Lukiwski thinks that the “odds of probability” suggest that the
Conservative would be the first party investigated. At this point, I
think the opposition should just agree to his motion in order to get
him to shut up, and then amend it to their collective liking, but no
one listens to me.

11:53:52 AM
Lukiwski
thinks that once this discussion is “known” by the general public, it
will become clear that it is a “witch hunt.” Hmm, what say you, general
public? Witch hunt or filibuster? Yea or nay?

11:55:33 AM
Okay,
this is getting distressingly meta—Lukiwski has veered off onto a
tangent on election speculation, which, he says, has exploded over the
last two days, mostly because the Liberals “don’t want an election on
Afghanistan,” which is why they’re plotting to bring down the Tories on
the budget. Wait, huh?

Dear Tom,
I think you meant ‘Government’ and not ‘Liberals.’ Hope this helps!
Love,
ITQ.

Also,
his theory that these hearings are driven by the recent outbreak of
election fever doesn’t work with the established timeline, since this
filibuster actually got underway last year, before the House broke for
the summer.

12:00:06 PM
Once
again, Lukiwski informs us that the Liberals don’t want to go to an
election with Afghanistan as the ballot issue, because the party is so
bitterly divided, and war is such a vote-winner, and Stephane Dion—did
you hear he’s not a leader?

12:01:55 PM
I’ll say this much
for Lukiwski’s new script: It’s definitely more educational to be a
test market for the various Conservative message lines on Afghanistan
than to listen to him go on and on about the unbearable unfairness of
Elections Canada.

12:08:23 PM
A reader chides me for being needlessly needling of the National Post in a previous bulletin, and he/she is quite right. After all, it was a CanWest paper—the Ottawa Citizen—that broke the ‘In and Out’ story in the first place. It’s Ivison—whom I like tremendously—who set the bar low, not the Post.

12:11:00 PM
Karen
Redman asks, plaintively, how the Liberal position on Afghanistan has
anything to do with the motion. “It’s about elections,” says Lukiwski.
But—so is everything, if you put it that way. Now Lukiwski is tweaking
the Liberals over reports that at least one MP challenged Dion during
yesterday’s caucus.

Okay, what does this tell us, kids? other
than that even Tom Lukiwski seems to have gotten bored of listening to
himself drone on about the intricacies of election law, that is. It
tells us that the Conservatives are absolutely, positively convinced
that the schism within the Liberal caucus over Afghanistan is so deep,
and irreconcilable, that the slightest tap could cause it to burst into
flames in a horrifyingly public way.

12:22:18 PM
According
to Lukiwski, the reason that the Tories need to get their hands on the
opposition expense filings is so that they can prove that they
didn’t do anything wrong. Which doesn’t make a lot of sense, and is
making Marlene Jennings and Karen Redman giggle. “He can say that with
a straight face,” one of them marvels.

12:25:21 PM
Lunch
has arrived, and everyone is looking longingly, but the chair snits
that he would suspend the sitting, but doesn’t want to be attacked for
“showing compassion” or “allowing members to meet their biological
needs.” Ooh, he’s definitely still smarting; you can tell he’s
absolutely sick to death of this whole thing. Somehow, I doubt he’s
going to take pity on the three reporters present, and let us scarf
down the leftovers.

12:33:34 PM
The
chair has refused to suspend the meeting to allow members to hit the
lunch table, much to the annoyance of the Bloc Quebecois. To make her
feelings known, Pauline Picard just demonstrated her skill at passive
aggressive salad dressing bottle-shaking, which sent the other MPs into
chortles, and prompted dark mutterings from the three other
Conservative MPs who serve as Lukiwski’s backup. Like a silent Greek
chorus. Or Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

12:40:22 PM
People’s
cell phones keep going off. I don’t want to sound overly suspicious,
but I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t akin to pranking a substitute
teacher by having everyone drop their pencils at a predetermined time.
Do kids still do that, by the way? You’d think it would be far easier
to synchronize mischief-making with text messages and all that.

12:42:32 PM
As
Lukiwski moves onto yet another Liberal MP to run afoul of Elections
Canada—a former Liberal, in this case, Blair Wilson—someone asks
whether Lukiwski plans to detail Wajid Khan’s disputes over his
campaign loans as well. “Or has that been swept under the rug?” Which
brings on a barrage of hairpiece jokes, which even the Tories seem to
find amusing. Except for the chair, who grumps that the resulting
outburst of merriment would have been sufficient to allow Lukiwski to
take a bathroom break.

That’s actually a point of contention at
the moment. Lukiwski, you see, can’t leave the table unless the
meeting is suspended for a five minute biological break, and the
opposition isn’t about to agree to that, since that way he could go on
forever.

12:57:58 PM
Lunch buffet bulletin: It has date squares! Teeny tiny ones, but still. It’s like they knew I’d be here.

1:02:14 PM
John Ivison would be delighted, I’m sure, by Lukiwski’s enthusiastic reading of his column.

1:04:05 PM
Well,
that was unexpected. The chair just adjourned the meeting, since no one
asked for it to be extended, which means the filibuster is over.
Lukiwksi didn’t even get to read the whole Ivison column into the
record, and no one is sure what this means. Afterwards, various
staffers and journalists chatter over whether Goodyear was given the
go-ahead to shut the meeting down by PMO, or simply had enough of
playing referee, and set off an independent thought alarm in Langevin
Block by deciding to adjourn all by himself. No one knows, although the
other Tories claim they had no idea it was coming.




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