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For those about to flout


 

The government’s attempt to improvise a new limit on the Westminster system will have its first test this morning when the Prime Minister’s director of communications is scheduled to testify at the ethics committee. Once again, as in the matter of Parliament’s demand to see documents related to Afghan detainees, there is the small matter of the actual laws of this land.

If you should be so curious, the power of Parliament to “send for persons” is explained in chapter 20 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. A committee of Parliament can issue a summons to any individual, ordering their attendance at a specific time and place. Only the Queen, the Governor-General, provincial lieutenant-governors, members of Parliament, members of provincial legislatures and individuals not residing in Canada are, in practice, granted immunity from such a summons.

Those who are rightfully summoned, but fail to appear can be disciplined by the House—Parliament’s powers in this regard explained in chapter 3 of second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Chapter 3 includes a subsection entitled “taking individuals into custody and imprisonment,” which reads, rather seriously, as follows.

The House of Commons possesses the right to confine individuals as a punishment for contempt, although it has not exercised this authority since 1913. In the years immediately following Confederation, the House ordered the Sergeant‑at‑Arms to take individuals into custody on four occasions and ordered the imprisonment of others. Again in 1913, the Sergeant-at-Arms was ordered to imprison an individual.

In May 1868, Henri Joly (Lotbinière) who was chosen Chairman of a select committee failed to appear when the committee was sworn in and a motion was adopted in the House ordering him to be taken into custody by the Sergeant‑at‑Arms. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms informed the House that he had been unable to comply with the Order because Mr. Joly was absent from the city and no further action was taken. In 1873, two Members, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and Frederick Pearson (Colchester), failed to appear when they were to be sworn in as members of a committee. A motion was adopted in the House to have them taken into the custody of the Sergeant‑at‑Arms. When Mr. Macdonald appeared, Dr. Charles Tupper (Cumberland) read an affidavit into the record, stating that the Member was unable to perform his duties for medical reasons. Mr. Macdonald was discharged. No further action was taken against Mr. Pearson, the Sergeant‑at‑Arms having informed the House that he had been unable to comply with the Order, due to Mr. Pearson’s absence from the city. Also in 1873, Alderman John Heney of Ottawa was held in custody from November 4 to November 7 while waiting to appear at the Bar of the House on the charge of attempting to bribe a Member. In 1891, the House adopted a motion ordering the Sergeant‑at‑Arms to take Thomas McGreevy (Quebec West) into custody for failing to attend in his place to answer questions. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms reported back to the House two days later that he had been unable to locate the Member. In 1913, the House ordered the imprisonment of R.C. Miller after he appeared at the Bar and refused to answer questions. He remained in prison for some four months until the end of the session.

In case you were wondering, Mr. Miller’s original offence in this case was refusing to answer questions of the Public Accounts Committee.


 

For those about to flout

  1. While I can understand why committees may want to interview staffers the fact remains Dimitri Soudas is a communication director. He does not set policy. He does as he is told. It is the PM who is reponsible for his actions. Its called ministerial accountability.

    The problem is the MPs have destroyed the credibility of the committee process in Canada. They as evidenced by Pat Martin simply want to grandstand, put somebody on the hot seat, ask questions that have nothing to do with why the person is there.

    So I can have some sympathy for political staffers and appointees who are not politicians and are hauled in front of the committee with little regard as to whether they have anything of material value to assist the committee.

    Wherry is quick to spout off what the rule book says but the fact is the PM and the government do not do these things with advice from legal counsel. They may be a lot of things but stupid isn't one of them.

    • lies lies lies lies.

      • Mike T……. of course its all lies. Anything that you disagree with must be a lie in your Liberal world.

        • Well then, why don't you bring some evidence that what you say is true?

          Let's start with the committee system. Which party handed out a book teaching its caucus how to disrupt those committees again?

          Then let us address the issue of PM's responsibility. At what point during his tenure has he ever stood up and taken responsibility for anything that went wrong? Just one example please where he took personal responsibility for something that did not paint him in a positive light. Blaming staffers does not count.

          Thanks

    • Doom…..aren't we an intelligent person. It is you who is outrageous. Are you too dense to offer a legitmate rebuttal versus calling someone who you don't know these kind of names.

    • So, when will the PM be appearing before the committee?

    • Sez Wherry above: "If you should be so curious, the power of Parliament to “send for persons” is explained in chapter 20 of the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. A committee of Parliament can issue a summons to any individual, ordering their attendance at a specific time and place."

      Sez hollinm: "the fact remains Dimitri Soudas is a communication director."

      Irrelevant.

      "He does not set policy. He does as he is told."

      Irrelevant.

      "the MPs have destroyed the credibility of the committee process in Canada."

      Untrue and irrelevant.

      "political staffers and appointees who are not politicians"

      Irrelevant

      "the fact is the PM and the government do not do these things with advice from legal counsel. "

      Irrelevant.

      There. A legitimate rebuttal.

    • Let's assume for a moment that the opposition parties are grandstanding.

      Wouldn't it be more effective, then, to have Soudas actually show up and offer a carefully-worded verbal beat-down, listing all the facts as he knows them, and any reason why he can't, in fact, offer a full, substantive response? Doesn't the government take every opportunity to embarrass opposition members?

      As for Ministerial Accountability, your invoking of the concept is noble but misguided, as the rule book – that most of us prefer to follow, indicates that "the Queen, the Governor-General, provincial lieutenant-governors, members of Parliament, members of provincial legislatures and individuals not residing in Canada are, in practice, granted immunity from such a summons." Ministers…are…members of Parliament. So the committee is calling someone to testify who can be summoned to do so, under the law.

      In addition to all of this, remind me whose party it was that commanded its committee members to simply not show up for committee hearings, and/or filibuster their way through in order that the committee could not conduct its business?

      • Lynn, I believe you have nailed it. Although given the obvious and shamelessly shameful grandstanding exhibited by US Senators, I do not know how effective it would be to verbally beat down the grandstanding jerks.

        But that does not diminish how wrong it is to apparently entice Canadian citizens to refuse to appear.

        Presumably, the committee may then issue a subpoena, and/or (whatever the rules are) return to the House to vote on a motion compelling someone to appear. But it should not require such extreme measures to get people to show up and answer questions each and every time.

        Now, about the quality of the questions and the people asking them…

    • Ministerial accountability means that ministers must take responsibility for what gets done on their watches. If a staffer has done something sufficiently wrong, the minister is under an obligation to step down because it was up to them to set appropriate policies and processes. It does not mean that a minister must shield their staff from enquiries or investigations. The principle of parliamentary supremacy remains – we elect our MPs, and they collectively have authority over government. Government is responsible to parliament, and parliament is free, with the few exceptions noted, to require anyone, including staffers, to provide the information they believe they need.

      If some committee members are abusing the privilege, I'm sure the opposition parties will be eager to call such abuses to the attention of the media. Personally, I'm sick and tired of all the abuses of our democratic institutions. In future, I will only vote for parties or candidates which are clearly working to strengthen proper democratic processes. If they're not respecting the supremacy of parliament, answering questions in Question Period, allowing the Auditor-General to inspect their expense reports, permitting their staff to answer a parliamentary summons or advocating, at a minimum, the same kind of voting process they use to elect their own leaders, I won't be voting for them.

    • nothing about ministerial responsibility precludes or diminishes parliament's abilities to call staffers to testify, regardless of their job (or anyone for that matter). to suggest otherwise exposes your ignorance.

  2. There could be a larger issue at play here. The government could intentionally be setting up the opposition parties. As expected they will appeal the government decision to the Speaker.

    The Speaker will dutifully reply that the committees can call whoever they want but there will be a discussion about how committees operate, who should be called etc.

    In other words the government is attempting to bring changes to how committees operate and rather than being a partisan kangaroo court that they investigate matters of substance and talk about real issues.

    Canadians have lost all faith in the committee process and nobody in Canada would believe they achieve any real results other than going on a witch hunt trying to malign the government under the priviledge of immunity. Because of that priviledge they can say anything they feel like with no consequences. Things that would get them in court on defamation and slander.

    • Are you beaming this in from the Phoenix Mars Lander?

    • I guarantee to you that the conservatives have no intention to shore up committees. They do not presently control committees, and if they did, the committees wouldn't matter. It is pretty clear to me that they are undermining committees.

      I would also note that members of the government has also used parliamentary privilege as a shield behind which to defame ordinary Canadians. They have on a number of occasions made comments in the House that they would not repeat outside.

    • "the government is attempting to bring changes to how committees operate"

      You mean like how they did with that little handbook on how to disrupt them?

      • Don Martin:

        Please publish that little handbook.

        Thx.

      • thanks Gayle,
        I was about to post the same comment

        do ya think hollinm, common man and wilson are all the same con-bot,
        just in different stages of the schizophrenic collapse?

    • The government could intentionally be setting up the opposition parties.

      Gasp! No! They wouldn't! Why, that would be totally out of character for Harper. He never plays stupid games with our system of government!

      Of course he's setting up the opposition parties. That's his shtick (well, that and not meeting celebs. Oh, wait..).

      The Speaker will dutifully reply that the committees can call whoever they want but there will be a discussion about how committees operate, who should be called etc.

      No, because unlike the detainee files, this is a clear cut breach of rules and regulations. It states clearly that a committee of Parliament can issue a summons to any individual, ordering their attendance at a specific time and place. Only the Queen, the Governor-General, provincial lieutenant-governors, members of Parliament, members of provincial legislatures and individuals not residing in Canada are, in practice, granted immunity from such a summons. That is it. End of debate.

      For the Conservatives to ban their staffers as witnesses is contempt. Plain and simple.

    • The committee process was pretty darned good before the conservatives started to disrupt them on purpose, because they did not have control, and was one of the least partisan areas of government. Do you not remember this?

      http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

  3. If Cons insist on continuing practice of using shock troops like Liberals did than their people should have to appear before committee's like any one else. I have no sympathy for political staffers who involve themselves in policy-bureaucracy on daily basis than cry about ministerial accountability when it comes time to be held to account for their actions.

    I am tired of this one rule for us (pols and bureaucracy) and one rule for everyone else. Whatever would happen to me, a private citizen with no connection to politics, if I failed to appear after I was summoned by Parliament should happen to political staffers as well.

    Pols and their staffers are not a priestly class who we have to obey, they are our servants.

    • bergkamp….are you suggesting that Dimitri Soudas, because he works in the PMO is our servant.

      If you are that's a bit of hyperbole. If you were working in a ministers office. The minister or your boss in the ministers office tells you to do something and you do it. Would you expect to be called before a parliamentary committee to explain your actions. Pretty soon they will be calling in secretaries and receptionists. All with one motive in mind. That is an attempt to malign the government. There is no real interest in getting to the bottom of anything. Its all a show.

      It was interesting that this committee who was investigating Jaffer asked very few questions about his lobbying activities of Snowdy. Why? Because Snowdy had no knowledge of those activities. They were only interested in grandstanding and getting potentially juicy gossip.

      The committee needs to focus on what the subject of the committee is and call only those people that actually can help the committee find the answers to their questions. Throwing out a net to virtually anyone is not very efficient and I would say will have a chilling effect on government employees.

      Dimitri Soudas is a Director of Communications. What does have to do with establishing Access to Information policy etc? They tried Guy Giorno and got nowhere so now they are after Dimitri.

      • You are as shameful a citizen as the current administration is as a government.

        • Mike T……of course you are not intelligent enough to offer a legitimate argument. You would rather call me names.

        • Can you tone it down? What's the benefit of clogging up the thread with pointless insults like this? If he's wrong, say so and say why.

          • That would be a waste of time. His arguments are shallow and dishonest and aren't intended to invite legitimate discussion.

          • TJCook did a good job above. With respect, your approach does more to feed hollinm's sense of martyrdom than otherwise.

          • others may respond as they wish. I feel treating such transparent crap seriously demeans me and elevates the poster unnecessarily.

          • Again with respect, then don't treat it at all. He uses up your time, encourages outrage and then, when he succeeds in eliciting an intemperate response, points to it as vindication of all the crap he throws at the wall.

            Your substantive posts are usually very good. Don't let him distract you from that. You can tell he doesn't have much of a positive following and by engaging him you play a part in validating him.

          • The problem is, he's not writing this to convince those of us who know anything. He's writing to create a false impression for those who tend not to look into things deeper. That's why any responses to him need to be short, to the point, and easily accessible.

            His actions are not done to add to the conversation, but to obfuscate it with lies.

            Hence why I now start every reply to him with:

            You're a liar, why should anybody listen to you?

          • I don't disagree with your assessment of hollinm. I stand, however, by my belief that knee jerk slagging plays into whatever game he is playing. TJCook didn't have to spend many brain cells to itemize and demonstrate each point as being off topic/irrelevant. There are many hollinm types on here and they win if they drag the more thoughtful posters to their level.

          • I see your point, but they also win if the rest of us just stand by and let them spew unabated.

            No such thing as bad press, something something….

          • Refute if you must, but gratuitous slagging is worse than doing nothing.

          • On this, we agree.

          • Well yes, simply slagging with nothing underlying doesn't help.

            That's why my comment is linked, and points out a specific reason why people should avoid believing him.

            However, I contend that TJCook's response is not effective because it's been shown that reiterating a point — even if it's to say it's not true or not relevant — does not weaken the impression of the point in a casual observer's mind, rather that it actually strengthens it because it's being accorded the respect of yet another person.

            You strengthen the meme by repeating it, whether or not you're arguing against it. To better destroy the memes that hollinm puts forward, do not reiterate the points at all (which unfortunately means leave them mostly unadressed) and instead concentrate on providing better, alternative explanations, or demonstrating that the credibility of the poster in-toto should be subject to serious consideration. This is likely part of why hollinm rarely tries to counter-rebut the rebuttals, but will certainly attack those who go after him directly — rebutting him merely furthers his goal.. it gives his meme added respect to the casual observer (which is his chosen audience), but those who go after him directly are the ones who weaken his meme, so he takes after them.

            So I've chosen to go for the latter, as it takes hollinm no time to come up with complete bullcrap. But good, substantive alternatives takes significant effort. The trick is to find a way to do it such that it doesn't turn the discussion area into a flame fest entirely, which will also keep the casual reader/voter away. I like to think my current method may fit these requirements.

          • Creationists use essentially the same tactic, it's about spinning credibility out thin air, and debate where there shouldn't be any.

          • "To better destroy the memes that hollinm puts forward, do not reiterate the points at all (which unfortunately means leave them mostly unadressed) … The trick is to find a way to do it such that it doesn't turn the discussion area into a flame fest entirely, which will also keep the casual reader/voter away. I like to think my current method may fit these requirements."

            I get the distinct impression that you do not comment here to discuss and learn, but rather to sway the opinions of casual readers/voters to your preferred viewpoint. Are you doing this for pay?

          • I doubt he landed a gig with DFAIT.

          • I have three responses here.

            The first is that you get the wrong impression. However, my discussion and chance of learning is significantly affected when people such as hollinm come to see these boards as good places for spreading their lies and misinformation — as such, I want these comment forums to be seen as inhospitable to liars. I want them to see that there is little benefit which can be gained here and a strong possibility that they will in fact damage their false memes or ability to use them if they put them forward on these boards.

            The second is that coming from you, this is truly a rich accusation. I can point to several posts of mine where my position has changed or moderated based on the arguments of those I was opposing. Most recently when discussing the dairy farmers board. Can you say the same?

            The third is that if I were doing this for pay, you wouldn't see my posts showing up at 2am at times. While I like to do a good job for the people I work for, that'd be well beyond the call even if I was getting paid.

          • No need to get defensive: there's nothing wrong with trying to sway others to one's point of view. There's also nothing wrong with doing it for pay. I was making an observation and asking a question, not making an accusation.

          • His arguments are shallow and dishonest and aren't intended to invite legitimate discussion.

            BINGO

          • At this point, he has managed to tie up otherwise thoughtful posters to 26 posts. Mind you, alot of them are among ourselves, but they are about him. This is time not spent elsewhere.

          • But it's useful time spent if others catch on to the points that are being made.

          • Not if the point is "hollinm is a jerk" instead of what he says that is wrong.

          • That is true, but I think that just saying what he says is wrong, by this point, is enough.

          • Except the point.. at least for this latter discussion, revolves around how hollinm is a liar, not a jerk. The latter is pure ad hominem and not terribly useful. The former has a direct relevance to the believability of what he says.

            And a secondary point is: Don't give liars credit they don't deserve.

      • Surely, the servant of our servant is himself our servant? Or are you suggesting that the PM is not a servant of the electorate, serving only at our collective pleasure?

        • Wallace….of course the PM is the servant of the people. However, the receptionist working for the PM is not. Do you understand the difference?

          • See Bergkamp's reply below….

          • This is, of course, irrelevant. Parliament has the right and the power to compel ordinary citizens to appear before committees, servants or not.

          • "In March, the Globe and Mail revealed that a senior Conservative official intervened repeatedly to try to suppress information that the federal government spent $5 million on TV advertising during the Vancouver Olympics.

            Several weeks ago, the Hill Times, citing interviews with Conservative staff members, reported that over the years, Harper's office had been ordering ministerial aides to pressure departments to release less information to the public." Ottawa Citizen, May 8 2010

            hollinm

            This is the kind of action that I was thinking of. Con political staffers are involving themselves where they shouldn't. Boundaries are being blurred, at a minimum, and for all we know the receptionist working for PM is a Con staffer who's first loyalty is to Harper, not Parliament/Canada.

      • I would imagine that as Director of Communications Dimitri Soudas deals with access to information requests. The people of Canada have an interest in hearing from those who set policy as well as those who apply policy and process access to information requests to evaluate policy.

      • " ….. are you suggesting that Dimitri Soudas, because he works in the PMO is our servant."

        Yes, I am, depending on who pays Soudas salary. Anyone who takes public money is a servant as far as I am concerned.

        And I agree, in theory, that we should be careful who gets called in front of committees but I also know that Con political staffers have been involving themselves in bureaucracy decision making process. And if staffers are going to involve themselves in areas that are not really their concern than they should have to appear before committees when it comes time to pay piper.

      • Dmitri Soudas is indeed our servant. He is a public servant, and we are the public. Same goes for MPs and the Prime Minister.

        The law has to be applied equally to all (i.e. justice is blind) if we wish to live in a just society.

      • It's for Parliament to decide, not the government.

      • Listen to yourself! You think everyone in the committee is out to get the Conservatives. Is it not at all possible that someone besides the Conservatives actually wants to see this country run well?

        Are you so hard-headed to think that the only functioning ideas of governance come from Conservatives?

      • "If you were working in a ministers office. The minister or your boss in the ministers office tells you to do something and you do it. Would you expect to be called before a parliamentary committee to explain your actions?"

        The point Mr. Wherry seems to be making is that it doesn't matter who someone works for or who their boss is or what they are going to be asked about – the law of the land is that committees can send for any individual. According to the law of the land, the House's Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development could summon me tomorrow to appear before them as a private citizen and testify about why I decided to mow but not weed-whack this weekend. I would be very confused as to why it mattered, but I'd really have little choice about whether or not to go.

        EDIT: Updated with the name of a real committee just to pre-empt the obvious rebuttal.

  4. ""Ministers are the ones who are accountable for the policies, the operation and the decisions made by their staffers," Stephen Harper's director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, told CTV's Question Period."

    So why don't they answer the questions put to them in Question Period (the real one?) Why don't they show up at Committees when invited to appear? Why don't they act like they are accountable instead of blaming their underlings and civil servants every time something goes wrong.

    .

    • tobyornotoby……..perhaps if the opposition asked legitimate questions on substance they would get a real answer. However, most of the questions are inaccurate, fabrications or spun in such a way as to elicit a crappy response. However, this is not knew although you guys appear to have short memories.

      I agree with Chong that QP needs to be cleaned up. I would love to see Harper stand up in the House and take all of the questions in one day. It would go a long way to show Canadians that the PM knows his files etc.

      • You're unbelievable. We should not structure the machinery of our democracy to make Stephen Harper look good.

      • I agree with you that the questions are as dumb as the answers, and that needs to be changed. But if either side is going to claim itself "more equipped to govern" or "smarter", "better", or any other positive comparator, it needs to rise above the pig slop and start being more genuine in its management.

        In other words, the Conservatives are no better than the Liberals, NDP, or Bloc if they continue to use poor questions as an excuse for their failure to provide legitimate information.

        I disagree that the PM should stand up and take all questions in the house. He's got ministers who should know their files well enough, and whom he should trust well enough (if he's handed them responsibility for the file, after all!) to stand up and take those questions. Not that he shouldn't be briefed on the files and able to respond if necessary, say, in a scrum, but that his ministers, indeed, his government, is not so much a one-man show that it can't have many people speaking for it.

    • Because they have no respect for the law.

      Because they are cowards.

      Because the spineless opposition lets them get away with it.

      Because the lazy media repeats their lies over and over.

      Because the apathetic public lets them get away with it.

  5. @Tobyornotoby – those are serious questions mister!
    I recognize your game. You are trying to make the Tories dance around the truth – you wicked young fellow you!

  6. If Ministers are accountable, why has no minister resigned for staffer interference in Access to Information requests.

    This government has been the fastest to pass the buck and blame staffers for every broken law and screw up, but won't let us Canadians know whether that is BS political cover.

    God, can you imagine these unaccountable clowns with a majority?

    • God, can you imagine these unaccountable clowns with a majority?

      I can't answer for God, but speaking for myself, yes, I can imagine the Conservatives with a majority.

      • I suspect many Canadians can as well, which is why the Conservatives are so low in the polls and Harper's personal numbers (leadership, negatives, performance, etc.) keep edging downward.

        • Uh, ted, if by "so low in the polls" you mean "ahead of everyone else" I suppose you may be onto something. Otherwise, well, you're not.

          I refer you to Wells's EKOS sideways V…

          • Uh, MYL, you do not seem to be following the discussion here.

            We are getting crappy leadership. If Canadians were happy with any one of the leaders, then they would reap the benefits. That the Liberals are doing even worse than the Conservatives is not irrelevant, but we are talking about the disservice and lack of leadership we get from our supposed leaders. That X, Y or Z are lower in the polls does not mean the Conservatives are high; that X, Y or Z are not showing leadership or are not connecting with Canadians, does not mean that Harper is.

            And while the Conservatives seem fairly stagnant, low but higher than the Liberals, Harper's personal numbers keep going down on stuff like trust, leadership, vision, etc.

          • Then I thank you for a novel definition of "so low in the polls" that I may keep up with this challenging discussion. For a moment there I actually believed that by "so low in the polls" you meant "so low in the polls." I will have to be more careful digesting your words in future.

          • I don't think calling the support of a third or less for a government "low in the polls" is very novel.

            I don't think calling the support of 20% of voters in the last election – the lowest support of any government in our entire history – "low in the polls" is very novel.

            The only novel definition is defining one's polling status only and exclusively in relative terms to the other parties.

            Clearly, the relative status of one party to the other is important. Ultimately, you as a party want to win more than the other party. But the point of the discuss today has been (1) the Conservatives have low support among Canadians, (2) they don't seem able to grow and (3) that they and the other parties cannot raise their numbers shows how discontented we Canadians are with the Ottawa insiders and so-called leaders.

          • Uh, ted, if by "20% of voters" you mean "37.7% of voters," you may be onto something. Otherwise, well, you're not.

            I refer you to the popular vote results of the 2008 Canadian federal election:
            http://www.elections.ca/scripts/OVR2008/default.h

            Check out Table 9: Percentage of valid votes by political affiliation

          • Uh, MYL, by "20% of voters" I mean only 20% of eligible voters (actually 21%, sorry) supported the Conservative Party in 2008, the lowest level of support for any government in our history.

            Not only that, but fewer Canadians voted for the Conservatives in 2008 than voted for them in 2006 despite population growth, this despite a huge funding war chest advantage, a deeply divided opposition trying to get rid of its own weak leader and broke, etc.

            The 37.7% you highlight also confirms my point because that is one of the lowest levels of relative support of votes cast in our history, even among minority governments as most minority governments in our history have had a higher percentage and struck some sort of deal with a minority third party in order to have some stronger mandate, support and legitimacy from the people.

            Not so our good government, which goes the other way and tries to undermine our democratic institutions in order to govern like a majority.

          • I thank you for a novel definition of "voters" that I may keep up with this challenging discussion. And on the same day that I challenged myself to more carefully digest your words, too.

            I will remember to smugly dismiss any sports franchise that won its championship game by a score of 1-0. Why, that's the lowest possible score of a winning team…

          • There's the difference between you and me, I suppose, as well as this government and most Canadians.

            I and I think most Canadians recognize that, in sports, the objective is to win by beating the other side while in government the objective is to win by governing well and trying to convince people of that fact.

            Most Canadians believe that good governance is not a zero sum game.

          • Wow, this English language thing is hard!! Here I was trying valiantly to re-learn the definition of "low," and now I have unwittingly decided that good governance is a zero sum game and that politics is mere sport? Sheesh, what a creepy cad am I…

            Or maybe ted's just busy putting strawmen in my mouth. Nah, couldn't be. Nice guy like that, patiently explaining to me word definitions that I cannot find in any dictionary: why would he do such a thing…

          • "why would he do such a thing…" If you ask a question, you should end it with a question mark. It's that thing with a squiggle mark above a period on your keyboard (the keyboard is that thing you tap on with your fingers).

            See? The English language is not so hard. All you have to do is apply some common sense and understanding and some reading comprehension. It helps to stay away from Conservative talking points, they just confuse the meaning of words and a thing the rest of us call "facts". They are very Dadaist in fact.

            Now apply that very generous – and free, I might add – education I just imparted upon you – I do have that true liberal bleeding heart for those less fortunate after all – to what I actually wrote – i.e. that governance is not akin to a sport – and you might actually end the day a fraction more knowledgeable than you started. Cheerio.

          • Not so our good government, which goes the other way and tries to undermine our democratic institutions in order to govern like a majority.

            Riiiiiight. Y'know, what with the Conservatives being SO LOW (bettsian definition of May '10) in the polls right now, the opposition might want to pull off a confidence challenge or something. Whazzat? They're cowering over in the corner? Hmm. Seems like the opposition is the one preferring to be governed as if it was a majority government situation.

          • Again, you seem incapable of getting your mind around the idea that good governance is more than just beating the other side.

            In fact, there was once a professional pundit turned career politician who used to make the point that politics should be about ideas not just doing what it takes to win and keep power for its own sake. Sadly, that fellow changed his mind when he became PM in 2006.

          • Funny, that. I was pretty sure YOU were the one bringing up how "low" the current governing party was in the polls.

          • But seriously, MYL, do you think objectively that 33-36% is a HIGH level of support? Only one third of Canadians support you. Do you actually think that is HIGH? That's conservative-style math there for you folks.

          • Uh, ted, you are, once again (by my inexcusably stubborn linguistic choice to adhere to actual definitions of real words) waaaaay off with an estimate. Do you actually think one third of Canadians support ME? Ha! Ha! Ha! (If by "one third," you mean "three"…)

            Maybe my ordinary-meaning use of my own words has tripped up this conversation somewhere yet again, so I call on your generous patience and obvious authority on the meaning of words to point out my turn of phrase on this comment board that suggests "that 33-36% is a HIGH level of support." I confess that I failed to find it. But my "conservative-style math" must be there somewhere, if only an enlightened benevolent soul like you could shine the light on it.

          • Alright there MYL, I'll help you out. But I'm only doing so since you showed that charming, self-deprecating side of yourself in admitting for all to read that you are an obtuse idiot intent on obstructing a civil discussion than participating in one.

            I can state with quite a bit of confidence that, indeed, one third of commenters on this thread do you not support you, let alone one third of Canadians. But not even Dear Leader Harper can get the support of one third of Canadians, so I would not feel bad about that at all. I mean, he's been in government for 4 years with virtually no opposition and he has losing votes and support.

            Let me put it differently then, on what planet is 21% of voters NOT low? is one third of all votes cast NOT low? I suppose if you know most of Canadians would never support you or your ideas, then those numbers could seem not low and even very high indeed.

            So there you go. And now it is late, this "discussion" getting more inane with each of your comments and so I have run out of any benevolence to bestow upon ye. G'night.

          • I believe we are narrowing things down. According to ted, "33-36%" is NOT HIGH. But "21%" is definitely LOW. Oh, and "higher than everyone else" is "so low." Oh, and everybody who didn't vote in '08 was so obviously against voting for the Conservative Party that they stayed home. Or something.

            he's been in government for 4 years with virtually no opposition and he has losing votes and support.
            Virtually no opposition: amazing, for a minority government, no?
            Losing votes and support: This must have something to do with Wells telling us to tilt our heads when looking at the recent EKOS polling trends, I guess. I maintain again, Paul, that V is only a sideways V if I keep my head straight.

            But, alas, I have exhausted ted's benevolence, so I may not enjoy confirmation of my understanding of his English language. My loss, indeed.

    • "This government has been the fastest to pass the buck and blame staffers for every broken law and screw up, but won't let us Canadians know whether that is BS political cover. "

      That was my initial thought when this was announced as well: almost every time there's been a PR-damaging screw-up by a minister a staffer has announced their responsibility and resigned. So it would seem staffers are responsible for what they do.

      Except, of course, if they're being asked to explain what it is they did. Then they're not responsible for their actions.

  7. There's only one conclusion anyone in their right mind can come to. Just look back over Harper's tenure so far. He and his Cabinet/MP's have gone to extreme measures to avoid, hide, twist and blame others.

    Harper's extreme combativeness when it comes to accountability proves that he's got some really serious stuff to hide or wants to force an election or both.

    I suspect both.

  8. Excellent post.

    It is very important that journalists be clear about the fact that–as with detainee documents–the Conservatives are (a) just ignoring law, (b) making up legally nonsensical justifications for doing and then (c) trying to paint these scenarios as typical political disputes.

    This is a long time Republican tactic–claim black is white and white is black so that journalists just wind up reporting that the parties disagree about the matter–and we cannot adopt the same standard in Canada.

    • "This is a long time Republican tactic…"

      Absolutely true. Another Republican tactic that got lots of exercise during the Bush years was the exploitation of unwritten rules. Modern democracies are based on convention, mutual respect for the institutions and its participants and a healthy respect for the spirit of the rules. Since Clinton's second term, the Republicans demonstrated that people who don't care about the health of a modern democracy can grab a fair bit of power.

      It's usually pretty destructive to the system of government, but the Republicans simply didn't care.

      I think Harper's Conservatives are using the same tactics.

  9. There needs to be an investigation into why the fire alarm went off last week which prevented Soudas from appearing before the Committee. It is a criminal act to pull a fire alarm with out proper cause.

    The timing is too perfect to be excused as a coincidence.

  10. I think Canadians would pay good money to see Soudas, Giorno et al being taken away in jumpsuits and handcuffs.

    • as long as CPAC broadcasts it for free, I'm not sure that's true.

    • We'd pay double to see Pablo Rodriguez and Michael Bryant do the perp walk, and we'd even chip in to get their crimes published instead of covered up by the media. Stephen Harper is running the cleanest federal government in Canadian history and unless you are an outright crook you *will* support him and you *will* like it, is that clear?

      • I'm not sure what crimes of Bryant's you're referring to, but the Crown's decision to drop the charges pertaining to the death of the cyclist- and the reasons wherefore – have been widely publicized.

    • I think Canadians in general would need help to know who Soudas, Giorno et al are. I can think of a few Canadians around here who would pay good money to see your dreamy perp walk. But there's a big country out there beyond these pixels; you might like to get to know it.

  11. Enough is enough! I think that the committee should perp walk Soudas to jail. I've just about had it with these idiots. If it's a showdown they want, a showdown they should get.

    Let's deal with this one once and for all. If we let them get away with yet another affront to Parliament, it will be never ending.

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