Balancing act or pivotal choice


John Ibbitson and Susan Delacourt preview the Speaker’s decision on detainee documents. Gentle reminders that something like the very foundation of our democracy hangs in the balance. Not that that should distract you from Mr. Jaffer’s testimony this afternoon.


Balancing act or pivotal choice

  1. "Not that that should distract you from Mr. Jaffer's testimony this afternoon."

    Sorry Aaron, but that's a little rich coming from a member of the press. Unless, of course, this comment was meant for your peers?

    • I think it was meant to everybody, both the press and the public.

      • I guess the MSM isn't the only guilty party. The public is also at fault for indulging in the media orgy surrounding these two.

        That being said, I know that I have been monitoring papers, looking for analysis on the pending Miliken decision. I found very few.

        • True and lets face it, they need need to sell copies of their obsolete little platform so they report and comment on sensational stories rather than on important but more boring issues. Jaffer/Guergis sells more copies.

          • See… I don't agree with that. The same argument was sort of used to suggest that Canadians wouldn't care about prorogation.

            It is all about how the story is framed. The MSM is in part responsible for the dumbying down of the information passed on to the electorate. If the implications of this decision was properly explained or debated, Canadians would tune in.

  2. "Mr. Milliken's word is not the final word. Technically, he will rule only on whether the government appears to be in contempt. If he finds against the government, a parliamentary committee will thrash out the issue, and the matter will be brought back to the House for a final vote.

    Rather than release the material, the Conservatives could force an election by making that vote a matter of confidence in the government."

    Is there another plausible scenario? I doubt that Harper wants to go to the polls with the Guergis/Jaffer story still unfolding. I also don't believe that Harper will give an inch on the Afghan file.

    So… what will he do?

    • Like any sociopath, Harper will just do what comes next: call an election.

      "I doubt that Harper wants to go to the polls with the Guergis/Jaffer story still unfolding."

      I think he believes he could squeak out another minority. His cult followers aren't going anywhere. In fact, the more the Conservatives screw up, the more the Harper cultists love him. That's how the Right works.

      The only thing that could diminish Harper in the eyes of his cultists would be chubby intern with a blue dress. And that's never going to happen.

  3. Ah…so why DO they both have to happen at the same time? Hmmm? Anyone?

    • I think the Speaker's ruling is tomorrow.

      • Oh…never mind (I'm Emily LItella!)…

  4. The idea that we can only handle one national political story at a time is nonsense.

    I am surprised that Wherry would buy into the assumption that we can only have one legitimate story at a time, since it underlies the unrelenting bashing by conservative supporters who are always demanding that media pay attention to "positive story X" instead of "negative story Y."

    In truth, I think the conservatives practice of flooding comment boards attacking media who cover "unapproved" stories is, sadly, having some effect.

    • Standy By, I don't think that anyone is suggesting that we cover one story at a time. In this case, the issue is that the Milliken decision isn't getting the kind of attention it deserves considering its implications, especially when compared to the amount of ink/cyberspace given to the Guergis/Jaffer saga.

      • Perhaps I misinterpreted the notion. It certainly does occur to me that, were I Harper, I would much rather have people focused on an already-fired minister than on my alleged contempt of Parliament, or worse still, my alleged cover-up of war crimes.

        • Your criticism is fair. We should be able to pay attention to more than one story at a time and, for the most part, we probably do. So I probably should have phrased myself better. I think my general lament has more to do with the amount of attention directed to this particular story. Or, more precisely, the amount of attention it receives in comparison; that its importance pales in comparison with the ongoing matter of Afghan detainees and, thus, we would all probably be better off writing pieces about the potentially cataclysmic moment in our Parliament's history to come (I exaggerate, though maybe not by much).

          • OK, Who the hell are you and where did you put Mr. Wherry ?

          • See, this is what happens when the Aaron Wherry in your head is compared to the actual Aaron Wherry.

          • They're both far to the left though right ?

          • Thanks for the clarification, and I share your general lament.

  5. As this decision may be a precedent setting one that not only impacts Canada, but all countries with the Westminster system, I sure hope that the Speaker has discussed this with a broad range of Constitutional experts.

    • I can't tell you how anxious I am about the prospects of this Speaker standing up to the Government. He has shown so little spine in any rulings to date.

    • I'm sure he has. This is one for the books. He will either be praised pilloried for it.

  6. Ibbitson repeats the fallacy that ruling privilege was breached means unredacted documents will be made public. That just isn't the case no matter how often Conservative blowhard say it.

    • "that ruling privilege was breached means unredacted documents will be made public."

      I noticed that.

      ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: Could one of you set the record the straight for the benefit of your colleagues and the Canadian public please? It's a significant misperception and it needs to be corrected.

    • Perhaps the online version of the story has been edited since you read it, but I don't see that anywhere.

      The closest I can find now is "If Mr. Milliken finds in favour of the opposition parties that made the claim, then thousands of pages of heavily censored documents could be made public". That's still not an ideal way of putting it, imho, but it's not exactly "ruling privilege was breached means unredacted documents will be made public".

  7. Susan Dellacourt muses that Milliken may regard the massive document dumps in recent weeks as partial compliance Huh?
    Does anyone remember this document?

    Milliken either has the stones to make a ruling (either way), or he should resign.

    • He wouldn't dare…. Would he?

      Miliken has a choice to make. He either upholds the govt's national security defense or he slaps it down. The only middle of the road argument could be to tell the govt that it figure out a way to comply without breaching national security.

      • "He wouldn't dare…. Would he?"

        Oh, he would. He's the laziest, most indifferent speaker the House has ever had. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he makes the wishy-washiest ruling he can.

        • It looks like both Ibbitson and Delacourt are getting ready to let him off the hook for a non-ruling ruling.

        • My. That would certainly be a proud legacy

    • That document got very good reviews, though:

      "A mustn't read" … Toronto Star
      "I couldn't pick it up, never mind put it down," … Vancouver Sun
      "A mood of intrigue and suspense unusual in Canadian literature" … The Globe
      "_________________ is one of the hottest new writers in the _________ genre. I give it __ stars" … National Post

  8. Canada's politicians pretty much feel that their electorate are knuckle-dragging imbeciles who can't be counted on to follow more than one story at a time. We're pretty much good for two things – picking up a pencil to vote for pretty much any candidate and sending our money year after year to Ottawa.

    They're safe on both issues today. What were we talking about again?


  9. I think the Speaker should keep in mind the words of Errol Mendes, U of Ottawa law professor:

    “If the Speaker rules against the opposition motions, it would not be too hyperbolic to say we have changed our system of governance,” he maintained. “The executive would no longer be accountable to the House of Commons.”

      • "They" sounds so partisan and blamey.

        Personally, I would have gone with "we have had our system of governance changed", but I'm usually passive-aggressive when I'm angry.

  10. Susan Delacourt's analysis goes completely over her head. She's clearly taken her own opinions on prorogation and the forming of coalition (ie separatist in nature or not?) as to be objective arguments.

    Susan Delacourt needs to stand back before trying to do some valid opinion making.

  11. Some talking heads are already opining that the opposition parties won't follow through because they don't want to have to campaign on an issue that the general public doesn't understand or care about. But more than a few disgruntled citizens were able to grasp the implications of Harper's last prorogation gambit, so it's not a stretch to assume that they might also grasp the implications of the supremacy of their elected representatives v. the supremacy of one political party.

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