Parliamentary geekery makes the world a better place. For one day, anyway.


This one goes out to all those proceduraphiliacs out there:

NDP aide’s Commons sense saves the day

Four little words were all it took to end a logjam over whether aboriginal leaders would be allowed to respond to the government apology for residential schools from the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday. […]

Stepping outside to pose for a photo about an hour before the historic occasion was to begin, Layton told NDP press secretary Ian Capstick he feared the impasse would taint the moment with partisan pride.

“He expressed his great concern to me that an opposition party would move forward with an aggressive motion on the floor of the House of Commons, and that Conservatives would feel compelled to shut it down,” Capstick said yesterday.

Then came those four words.

“Committee of the whole,” Capstick said he told Layton, and the leader called Harper to save the day.

That phrase meant Parliament could take its ceremonial mace off the table, let the Speaker of the House sit in a regular chair and otherwise shed some of the formality that would have prevented the aboriginal leaders from responding.

“It provides the House with a unique opportunity to have a more fulsome debate, without being constrained by party rotation, without being constrained so tightly by time limits and a whole host of different things,” he said.

Capstick, who was shy about sharing his role in the last-minute negotiations, said his solution came from a “passion for Parliament and its procedure.”

“I’m in love with the House of Commons and what we do for Canadians,” said Capstick, who has worked on the Hill for 10 years. “If you want to best be able to effect change on behalf of ordinary people, you’ve got to know the rules of the House. And if you don’t, well, you won’t be effecting much change at all.”


Parliamentary geekery makes the world a better place. For one day, anyway.

  1. Okay… I don’t get why it seems like no one knew this was an option. They used it a mere few months ago to allow witnesses for the Chalk River fiasco. Why did this seem so foreign to everyone?

  2. They used it twice last week — to scrutinize the budgets of the Finance and Foreign Affairs ministries.

    But it was still a creative solution for the apology.

  3. I also wonder how much the Senate invitation on Tuesday to the aboriginal representatives to speak in reply on Thursday on the Senate floor and therefore in its “Hansard” record had to do with Harper’s about-face. Far be it from our dear leader to allow the Liberal-dominated Senate to show him for the arrogant knuckle-dragger he is at heart.

  4. Well done by the NDP between the PM and Layton we actually have some leaders who can get things done – I especially like Layton’s concern about this and his aide deserves honorable mention. Overall excellent day for Canada both the First Nations peoples and the Gov’t. Being a Conservative I have quite a few co-workers and friends who have commented to me with repsect to a possible change in opinion in regards to Harper as they have been buying into the ol Liberal fear and Shmear tactics of late.

  5. Actually, well done to Gary Merastry (sp), who initiated the process of reconciliation in 2005, but who Harper failed or bothered not to mention, because Gary after all was a Liberal. It took Dion in his speech to do that.

    So once again, we see Harper engaging in partisan cheapness over something that didn’t need to be made partisan.

  6. I’m sure all the kids in Pikangikum and Davis Inlet are debating this point as we speak, trying to decide who should get credit for the apology.

  7. Kady, I find stories like this really encouraging that our MPs can work together. However, I find that we almost never hear about such cooperation. In your opinion, is that because it isn’t happening? Or perhaps it is but the parties don’t want to admit it?

  8. It does happen, but much less frequently in this Parliament than any I’ve covered before.

  9. It seems to happen frequently with Layton and Harper.

  10. Oh, not like Layton to make sure it’s known and gloat.

    Well, Layton certainly didn’t think about Gary Merasty – a “native” did he.

    Layton makes my skin crawl.

    By the way – isn’t this about an apology from Canadians to our aboriginals? Harper is the “messenger” here of OUR apology.

    Let’s get it in the right perspective – otherwise it means nothing.

  11. doesn’t this seem a little bit of self-promotion on behalf of the staffer?

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