Who's the boss? - Macleans.ca

Who’s the boss?

Speaker’s ruling on contempt charge will define relationship between House, PM


MPs in Ottawa are gearing up for a historic ruling. As early as Thursday, House Speaker Peter Milliken will decide whether or not Stephen Harper’s government is in contempt of Parliament, as the opposition parties allege. The claim concerns thousands of pages of heavily censored documents which likely reveal how much federal officials knew about Afghan detainee abuse – but which Conservatives refuse to release to Parliament. “It’s huge,” said Errol Mendes, law professor at the University of Ottawa. Mendes explained: “If the Speaker rules against the opposition motions, it would not be too hyperbolic to say that we have changed our system of governance [since] the executive would no longer be accountable to the House of Commons.” Even if Milliken rules against the Conservatives, however, it’s possible that the documents in question will remain under lock and key. Rather than remove the black ink, the Tories could simply force an election.

The Globe and Mail

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Who’s the boss?

  1. How would calling an election rescind the Parliamentary order to produce unredacted documents? How would that not be an enormous scandal in itself?

  2. So, we could have an election, and another Tory minority, and then they'd have to hand over the documents anyway.

  3. Bring it.

  4. Democracy works fine within the Canadian parliamentary system. That is, until a tyrant comes along. Harper's brand of brinkmanship serves Harper. Canada is incidental to the power he accumulates for himself. He has gone to this well once to often.
    Bring on the election.

  5. Or will the Speaker find some legal loophole that allows the gov't to over- rule parliament? Damn, I hope not.

  6. Maybe Harper saw the Bush/Cheney/Rove lies become known and the disclosure lead to the loss of power which he must fear absolutely! The speaker should toss out the yellers and liars as soon as they open their mouths and restore some dignity to our government1

  7. It's a bit scary. Harper has forced this by his addiction to power. I'm hoping for an election – sooner rather than later.

  8. Let us all pray that the Speaker preserves the "ultimate authority" of our parliament. If not, Canada becomes a bannana republic.

  9. The Speaker's ruling on contempt will define much more than the relationship between Parliament and the PM, it will determine whether or not we have a parliamentary democracy. It's a defining moment for the country.

  10. And here I thought we were the bosses all along. Don't Canadian voters have the ultimate "power of the pencil" when they enter the polling booth? Don't we have the power to turf the whole lot of them the next time there's a general election?

    The ultimate power rests with the voter. Don't let Ottawa tell you otherwise.


  11. The other option is that, faced with the prospect of an unwanted election following a contempt ruling, the Conservatives turf their leader in a bid to stay in power. Not a bad option as it preserves the party and largely removes the source of the problem.