The Commons: The House always wins

123 years from now, the Speaker of the day may well refer the Justice Minister of the day to this

by Aaron Wherry

The Scene. “In his March 31 intervention, the Minister of Justice quoted from the 1887 parliamentary treatise of Alpheus Todd,” the Speaker said. “The Minister also cited Bourinot in 1884.”

This was, by these standards, riveting stuff.

“Had he read a little further,” Peter Milliken continued, “he might have found the following statement by Bourinot at page 281. ‘But it must be remembered that under all circumstances it is for the House to consider whether the reasons given for refusing the information are sufficient. The right of Parliament to obtain every possible information on public questions is undoubted, and the circumstances must be exceptional, and the reasons very cogent, when it cannot be at once laid before the houses.’”

From his seat, the Justice Minister chuckled at this reprimand. He may have by then—with a full 15 double-spaced pages left to be read—realized that the government’s case was lost.

History arrived with neither pomp, nor circumstance, nor even grace. In the 45 minutes preceding his ruling, Mr. Milliken presided over a session of Question Period that totalled 41 questions and perhaps three or four answers. There were the usual amounts of hooting and hollering and carrying on, including a wild bit of flailing and pointing and yelling from Jim Abbott on the subject of improving the health situation of mothers in the developing world.

Eventually the Speaker announced an end to the time allotted for oral questions. Some MPs took their leave, many remained, anticipating what was to follow. At precisely 3:04pm, Mr. Milliken stood in his long black robes and announced the following.

“I am now prepared to rule on the questions of privilege raised on March 18, 2010, by the honourable member for Scarborough—Rouge River, the honourable member for St. John’s East and the honourable member for Saint-Jean concerning the Order of the House of December 10, 2009, respecting the production of documents regarding Afghan detainees.”

And with those 54 words committed to the record, Mr. Milliken proceeded with the other 6,400 typed out over 38 pages now held in his hands.

He began with a simple enough review of the facts. Michael Ignatieff sat and listened with his hand over his mouth. Bob Rae reclined and listened. Defence Minister Peter MacKay appeared to be concentrating hard. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson sat turned away from the Speaker’s general direction.

“It is no exaggeration to say that it is a rare event for the Speaker to be seized of a matter as complex and as heavy with consequence as the matter before us now,” Mr. Milliken observed.

To state it simply, be that possible, the matter before us had only to do with the power and precedence of the House of Commons, the primary legislative body of our democracy, filled, as it is, with our duly elected representatives. A majority of members of the House have demanded that the government produce, wholly and unredacted, various documents related to the country’s handling of detainees seized in the process of conducting our mission in Afghanistan. The government has so far refused on a claim of national security authority and responsibility.

It is, of course, not even that simple—complicated by doubt, accusation, inconsistency and war—but ultimately there is this question of power.

The Speaker had helpfully grouped the issues before him according to theme and he went through them one by one. Stockwell Day flipped through his Kindle. Bryon Wilfert flipped through a copy of this magazine. Mr. Nicholson turned in his seat toward the Speaker and fidgeted and nodded. Some in attendance seemed interested in what the Speaker had to say. Others seemed interested in being there to say they’d been there when the Speaker said what he said.

There seemed, at first, points for each side. Halfway through, the tally might have been said to be tied. Then, the will of Parliament began to run up the score.

“Before us are issues that question the very foundations upon which our parliamentary system is built,” Mr. Milliken observed. “In a system of responsible government, the fundamental right of the House of Commons to hold the government to account for its actions is an indisputable privilege and, in fact, obligation.”

Then came the reference to Bourinot. Then references to Maingot, Erksine, McGee and Odgers. Then this.

“It is the view of the chair,” Mr. Milliken said, “that accepting an unconditional authority of the executive to censor the information provided to Parliament would in fact jeopardize the very separation of powers that is purported to lie at the heart of our parliamentary system and the independence of its constituent parts.”

MPs on the opposition side applauded. The Speaker continued. ”Therefore,” he said, “the chair must conclude that it is perfectly within the existing privileges of the House to order production of the documents in question.”

A cry of “yes!” came from the far end of the room.

The verdict now seemed assured, but the Speaker kept on, now venturing an attempt at peace. “It seems to me,” he said, “that the issue before us is this: is it possible to put into place a mechanism by which these documents could be made available to the House without compromising the security and confidentiality of the information they contain?”

He asked for “common ground” and “trust” and “collaboration” and “accommodation.” He offered all parties two weeks to sort out a solution to this last question. He offered his services and announced himself open to suggestion. But there, in the fourth last paragraph, was the ruling.

“Accordingly,” Mr. Milliken said, “on analysing the evidence before it and the precedents, the chair cannot but conclude that the government’s failure to comply with the order of December 10, 2009 constitutes prima facie a question of privilege.”

There it was. In its own way, elegant. One hundred and twenty-three years from now, if the Speaker of the day has cause to do so, he may well refer the Justice Minister of the day to this. And that would seem the definition of history.

The Speaker was shortly thereafter done. He returned to his seat. All sides of the House rose to applaud his effort. And then, after a moment’s rest, the Speaker stood again and got on with the rest of the day’s proceedings.

The Commons: The House always wins

  1. Someday, when all the great struggles of our generation are long concluded, that day when our lives too have taken their place in the chronicles of Canada's past and are weighed in the scales of history, on that day, how will we fare? What will be our legacy? Will it inspire those who come after us? Will ours too be a torch that they will hold high?

    Stephen Harper spoke those words earlier this month, but it was Peter Milliken who rose to the spirit of their meaning.

    Will Stephen Harper hold the torch high by complying to the will of the house? Given his track record on cooperation and accountability, I'm not exactly hopeful.

  2. Two weeks? What public disinformation campaign can Harper come up with in two weeks….

    This would have been an appropriate ruling back on Dec 11, 2009.

  3. This was Speaker Millikens day – a true Canadian – divested of his Liberal leanings (long ago) but still a liberal. He is beyond party and learned long ago about fairness to all members. And as the abortion was in the background a women dies every 8 minutes from an abortion performed by untrained persons. I worked in Africa a s a physician.

  4. Election please and make the following the basis for it. "the circumstances must be exceptional, and the reasons very cogent,". War and national security during war constitutes the exception and the reason. Lets have an election and let the people decide. I for one am sick and tired of Liberals and their determination to ruin this country. We have men and women in uniform who deserve our protection. As far as I am concerned anything less is aid and comfort to the enemy and the LIps anf Dips will be held accountable on this.

  5. So now the government has two weeks to frame this as a terrible blow to freedom, to the Speaker and the Opposition siding with The Terrorists, to make it seem like this is the End of Civilization as We Know It, the Speaker imposing his will on a duly-elected government (that was not the first choice (and still is not) of 2 out of 3 Canadians) . . . today was a high point in our democratic existence, no doubt the next two will show us how low the PM can go.

  6. I really liked the 5th para, esp. the 1st sentence, because that's the essence of democracy. Many have written about this, but I best remember Ralston Saul in Voltaire's Bastards where he contrasted the quiet self-assured style of democracies with the grandiloquence of dictatorships. The former are best served by polite plain spoken democratic discourse, confident in the legitimacy of their enterprise. The latter must always try to compensate for the exclusion of citizen participation and popular illegitimacy with show-bizz, in their exaggerated speeches, insignia, propaganda, etc.. "History arrived with neither pomp, nor circumstance, nor even grace." I'd disagree with the last clause, Milliken did display quiet grace. But the first two clauses were exactly right, "History arrived with neither pomp, nor circumstance". That's precisely how history arrives in democracies.

  7. Stop lifting out particular segments of Milliken's ruling! One MUST consider the complete ruling!

    It is very clear: Milliken's ruling basically states for both parties to go back to the drawing board, and he wants them to do so in a timely fashion.

    Neither side can claim victory.

    The speaker believes this matter could have been dealt with in a reasonable manner from the get-go, and he still believes this can be done now.

    But "being reasonable" cannot proceed if one side or the other starts pointing fingers all over again, and this applies likewise to the members of the media and members of the pulbic at large.

  8. Why not contribute by thinking before posting! You would do the world some good!

  9. Why is your mind so completely closed off? It must be getting dark in there by now.

  10. War and national security during war constitutes the exception and the reason

    So, because we're at war, the executive should be unaccountable to Parliament?

    I don't remember us suspending the supremacy of Parliament while we were fighting Hitler.

  11. Way to stay on topic.

  12. Why so irate? This tantrum you're throwing is rather unseemly.

  13. We did have an election. Harper's party only got a minority.
    Thanks be to God.

  14. "Neither side can claim victory."

    Oh, but both of them will. As well as their shills and toadies.

  15. I also don't think that covering up documents that may be hiding government complicity in violating international laws is protecting our troops.

  16. Not sure the House has won anything. Yet.

    Milliken has simply said that if it comes to a gun fight, only the House is packin'..

  17. Should the Conservatives call a snap election in two weeks and lose to the Liberals. It will mean the documents, which the Conservatives claim can't be seen by the Liberals will be their property, and it will be the Conservatives who can't be trusted to view them, even though they already have. As Alice in Wonderland said, “ It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.”

  18. What makes you think I am irate? Is it unseemly for anyone to be reasonable?

    If you think I am not reasonable, please let me know in what regard.

  19. Well, let the election campaign begin, starting with the obligatory Tory commercials about Iggy's patriotism.

  20. You're shrieking at people on this and other threads. I can only presume that you are irate. Perhaps you shriek at people when you are happy as well, I don't know.

    You don't seem happy though.

  21. Kudos to Milliken. That's a job well done, and with class.

  22. Have you taken some sort of psychedelic?

    • Apparently, it's a 'Dutch Thing'. Clogged….or something.

  23. I agree. Milliken was impressive.

  24. As I said in Aaron's prior post, I am not sure it is a given that the Liberals will eagerly want to share all the documents at that point.

  25. There goes the appointment to London that he so desperately wanted…

  26. And after that election, when the Tories are returned with another minority government, and the House demands to see the unredacted documents, will we have another election? Would you like 3 or 4 of them before 2010 is out?

  27. I had fully expected Peter Milliken to rule in favour of the Ruling Party and was impressed that he didn't just cut them a blank cheque to act on the release of information as they wished.

    I don't believe Canadians want to put their soldiers at risk but their politicians are a whole different matter.

    CBC said Peter MacKay was concentrating hard….on his Blackberry.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  28. And what about being reasonable? Why avoid all the real questions?

  29. Actually, he's asked the MPs to all act as members of the same House, respecting its will. He's asked the Government MPs and Opposition MPs to find a mechanism to achieve two goals: 1. comply with the will of the House (turn over the documents to the COMMITTEE) and 2. do so in a manner that protects security and privacy.

    We have, of course, heard this before. The opposition approached the Government with offer to view the documents in camera, to require MPs to adhere to secrecy guidelines, etc. Harper and Nicholson told them to get stuffed… hence the referral to the Speaker, the proroguing, etc.

    The Speaker basically reaffirmed that all MPs, government side or not, are subordinate to the House as a whole.

  30. " He's asked the Government MPs and Opposition MPs to find a mechanism "

    We've heard this before? The opposition approached the Government? How, when?? Officially, or "by the way" , after the fact, etc. Don't start reading into things which don't or didn't exist in reality. The Official Request by the Opposite members of the House did never submit such request.

    Talk in the hallway, hanging over the fence? Perhaps. But then, so what?

    • In the House of Commons, on the record. The Speaker cited such a request made by Bob Rae.

      FV – it's OK to admit you are wrong. I am frequently. You are wrong on this issue.

  31. They've already asked for a public inquiry back to 2001.

  32. Does this qualify for a Godwin Award?

  33. They were not the governing party when they asked for a public inquiry.

  34. -12 rating for that comment.

    I think that's a new record.

  35. I believe the War Measures Act does exactly that.

  36. Hitler reference! Drink!

  37. Sigh.

    The ruling is fine in principle, but Parliament in its wisdom has not established any mechanism for committees to review sensitive material and, to assess whether privileges should be sustained. Swearing everyone in as privy councillors is only one part of the solution (and even that is problematic, given the presence of the Bloc on the committee).

    In the past, mechanisms for handling sensitive information have been imposed by majority governments, through legislation. That's not possible here. Alternatively, it might be possible to come to some agreement in an atmosphere of mutual trust, but alas, that also seems to be lacking.

    The presumption of most posters here is that somehow the assertions of privilege are all phony and that once the opposition parties get a look at the material, it will become clear that it can all be released. More likely, there will be disagreement between the parties (and the bureaucrats as well) about what should and should not be disclosed. How this will be resolved is anyones guess.

    The easy part is over. The fun starts now.

    • Yes they have; and the mechanism was proposed by Bob Rae.

      ―What we believe can be done is not beyond the ability of the House. It is done in many other parliaments. Indeed, there are circumstances under which it has even been done in this House. It is perfectly possible for unredacted documents to be seen by Members of Parliament who have been sworn in for the purpose of looking at those documents.

  38. Surely you're not suggesting that a political party in opposition might say one thing and then change their tune once elected into government. That would never happen.

  39. I wish the Liberals grow some and apply Milliken's ruling to the Income Trust fiasco of 3 1/2 years ago… Jim Flaherty's use of blacked out documents in January 07 was a dry run for Harper's later use of the same tactic on the Afghan detainee issue.

    Nailing Canadian Seniors who invested in the Income Trust sector cost $35 billion in market value and was Harper's first use of blacked out documents and nobody was willing to do much about it at the time…how about now?
    http://www.caiti.info/resources/fla_docs.pdf

    Harper never released his tax leakage numbers because it would reveal the farce of his argument. CAITI has been saying it for years now it's time for the Liberals to step up and use the Milliken ruling to look into this matter.

    Retirement income reform is important to y'all right?

  40. Why does this article's author not mention that Stephen Harper walked out of the chamber after Question Period? Talk about a sore loser and someone who can dish it out but can't take it.

  41. You're obviously just trying to be obstinent and go an a continual useless argument binge.

  42. Milliken makes me proud to be a Canadian. He did better than the right thing. His eloquent plea for collaboration should be a reminder to us all that integrity and respect for the spirit of parliament is what makes our system better than so many others. Bravo Mr. Milliken!

  43. Sorry — should I have warned you to sit down before reading?

  44. Bravo Jay.

  45. No. Close, but no.

  46. Harper had to leave because he was in a subordinate position to the Speaker (representing sovereignty of the House).
    Harper has a huge (as opposed to strong or healthy) ego and cannot buck being subordinate to anyone.

    Nicholson's statement is typical and indicates the coming chicanery in the next two weeks…. the nonsense about the gov't following (previous) laws is the way they will spin this: "we compromised as far as the law allows but they wouldn't cause they hate the troops and love the Taliban."
    If that narrative polls well, then we will see another election.

  47. Exactly Mike and during the years of McKenzie King all parties recognized this. Members of the official opposition were the only ones privy to security info. They are members of the privy council and thus brought into the executive branch during war or some other extraordinary circumstances. But they are sworn to secrecy. If we open this to all MPs the chances of a leak are multiplied. These Libs on here are so intent on a change of government that they cannot think about the implications of this ruling. I hope Harper forces and election on it.

  48. This is a stupid reply. Not a bit of logic in it. See my response to Mike above.

  49. Ya the Liberal war room is in overdrive on this. But I never pay attention to the thumbs. They mean nothing. So your comment was a waste of time.

  50. I'm sure that you believe that you're being reasonable, but the fact that you keep repeating it as if it's true in regards to yourself suggests otherwise.

    What part about the supremacy of Parliament do you not get? The speaker has only made it seem like neither side can claim victory in order to allow the Government to save face. Thus, allowing them to do the right thing more easily. Very honourable of him, really.

  51. Oops, sorry, you had 2001 in there. They called for a public inquiry into alleged detainee abuse in the same year the bastards hijacked the planes? Before there even were detainees? Huh?

    And let's say it's true. If they are in power, they don't have to call for one. They can, you know, set one up.

  52. I didn't think he had in him, this is going to be fun, let's the games begin!!!

  53. Just looking in on all the Canadian news sites looking for some official response from Iggy. None. You would think they would be all over this but its mostly Taliban Jack. Liberal leadership absent again.

  54. Don't be so modest. You earned that impressive score. I mean…aid and comfort to the enemy?..

    That takes real chutzpah, my friend.

  55. Your point is valid, but do note, however, that there have been a dizzyingly large number of Real, Lame-Duck and Acting Leaders of the Opposition since Harper became PM. And one of them almost took over as PM without an election. Yes, that's right, it was the Lame Duck one…

  56. Aaron Wherry,

    why is it so difficult for you to take some distance here.

    Taking some distance might solve a lot of things: for one, it might bring you to come to understand the importance of the pursuit of objective reasoning.

    Do us all a favour and give it a try, for once!

  57. I don't want to make this a partisan, my dad is bigger than your dad kind of argument, but there has only been one Liberal party leader, one NDP party leader, and one Bloc party leader in the last six months.

    Still, I can hear the howling from the base on Duceppe as Privy Council member, so I can understand why Harper didn't try that tactic. I don't agree with it, but I do understand it. I don't think just making Ignatieff "privy" to the secrets would have done any good with the problem, frankly, because there would be nothing preventing the NDP and Bloc from believing the Liberal was protecting Liberals while Conservatives protected Conservatives.

    But you can be sworn to secrecy without becoming a Privy Council member, right?

  58. Seriously, SpencBC? Just as a quick sampling, looking at the front pages of the CBC, Globe & Mail, and National Post websites (as I write this), each has an article on the front page with news of the decision, and each article has quotes from Michael Ignatieff. What more are you expecting?

  59. I don't think just making Ignatieff "privy" to the secrets would have done any good with the problem, frankly, because there would be nothing preventing the NDP and Bloc from believing the Liberal was protecting Liberals while Conservatives protected Conservatives.

    But the numbers in the minority Parliament don't matter anymore, if "privy" Ignatieff is persuaded to keep things quiet in the national interest. NDP/Bloc would not be able to dislodge a thing against those two parties.

  60. -19 rating at the time of this posting. I'm tempted to post a facepalm….

  61. Indeed – I am ready to cringe once I hear the spin on this.

  62. Uh-oh. From the CBC:
    http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/04/27/afgha

    He said he would instruct Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale to consult his Conservative counterpart and find a solution in the next two weeks "that vindicates the right of the Canadian people to have documents and also respects the considerations of national security."

    Well, there goes the opposition leader's understanding of national security — he wants "the Canadian people" to "have" these documents? A rabbi once told me an old Jewish saying, that once three people knew something, it was no longer a secret. How does that work for thirty-four million of us, Mr. Ignatieff?

  63. Don't try so hard, liar.

  64. Well, sure, fine. But the people of Canada would not be well served, believing all the evidence we've seen thus far, and hearing what the NDP and Bloc have to say are the reasons. I mean, presuming Iggy did keep stuff quiet, I imagine he'd have a grassroots uprising on his hands anyway. The evidence of Colvin et al wouldn't just go away.

  65. But Harper hasn't invoked the War Measures Act… so this is irrelevant.

  66. So an opposition politician who has been clamoring for production of the documents, sees the documents, and becomes convinced they should stay locked up in the national interest. And you think that would cause a grassroots uprising? That is not a very kind assessment of the grassroots.

  67. Agreed. He did pull it off well, while still managing to pull off a slight Mackenzie King. Watching him hold that immense stack of papers was a sign that I needed to get comfy. At the onset, I cursed him for not giving the ruling first, followed by the rationale, though I obviously understood why he had to do it the way he did. At times, it was like a ping-pong match, where I was trying to guess which way he would go.

  68. Sometimes when everyone disagrees with you, it's not Liberal bias…. it's just because you're wrong.

  69. He had abortion issues (or lack of) to take care of, I think.

  70. Seriously… not everything is conspiracy against the Conservative government. Sometimes one side is wrong… because they are objectively wrong. Fence-sitting not needed….

  71. Well, we also found out today that the documents have been thrown into a sea container and will take years to sort out. That's the story coming out of the Military Police hearing today. I think we're way past the 'being reasonable' stage.

  72. "The speaker has only made it seem like neither side can claim victory in order to allow the Government to save face."

    Yes, you must be right, just like the stork does the delivering of newborns. That works for some, for others not so much.

  73. I was reminded alright when not too long ago, MP Lee decided to wait out a Liberal motion vote, in the hallway of the house, that is, behind the curtains, not in front of it.

    But who cares. Right???

  74. I'm impressed that Miliken actually DID something for once. He's been erstwhile useless, but came through when it counted.

    Kudos from a card-carrying Conservative.

    (Call it wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for some decorum in QP as an early second Christmas present to the voters.)

  75. CBC News and its Liveblog gave a pretty good account of today's ruling. But I had the most fun reading yours.

    As a reader, it gave me a strong sense of being at the House of Commons watching a wonderful chapter of history in the making.

  76. Speaker gives parties two weeks to find a compromise… Makes me flashback to a windy airport in 1939, with British PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper, his compromise with the German Chancellor. How long did that compromise last?

  77. So, people with proper clearance in a secured environment can't see the documents because we have troops fighting?

    How convenient. I hate to break it to you Con shills, but "embarassing the government" is not a legitimate reason to override the supremacy of Parliament.

    You remember Parliament? Haper and the Cons were really big on "respecting the will of Parliament" back in 2005. Course, he was the opposition leader then. Funny how your priorities change.

    Take some time to learn how our government works, then get back to us.

  78. This was the correct ruling. In a Parliamentary democracy, it's Parliament that is in charge. Not the office of the Prime Minister.

    We all need a reminder of that every now and then.

  79. Yup.

  80. There was a rumour that he had a press conference with Bev Oda about their idiotic refusal to consider abortion as part of maternal health; however, someone pointed out that Oda is in Halifax and Harper is in Ottawa so the press conference is probably fictional.

    Someone else said he was meeting with Danny Williams. Any excuse not to be present, I would think.

  81. The vaguety [sic] and vacuity of your argumentative style is highly engaging, grossly convincing, and positively forthcoming. Well done!

    On a more serious note: You need to be more clear and concise, if you are expecting to be taken seriously.

    Other than trying to get people to come to your point of view that they should not view Harper like he's an autocratic wingnut on a power binge and treat this ruling without claiming it is a victory for anyone, what are you actually trying to get at so desperately, if anything?

  82. On any of the shows that hold a political panel (Power & Politics/Power Play/Question Period) over the past couple of months, on the MP panel segments opposition MP's have suggested a process could be developed where the documents could be viewed in camera (I cannot remember them all, but most definitely I have seen Ujjal Dosanjh and Ralph Goodale make such a suggestion). Each time the government MP on the panel either ignored the comment or responded by stating that opposition MP's cannot be trusted.

    I don't know of the processes by which the opposition could have made an "official" request before today, or how that request would have been treated any differently by the government than the official request for documents back in December, but surely enough as of today the request to devise a process is very official.

  83. I don't think any of Milliken's immediate predecessors could have delivered a ruling of this quality – you might have to go all the way back to Michener for that. The moment was historic, in part because a man secure in his experience and uniquely disposed to love parliamentary democracy was available to meet it. Sometimes a bit of luck does come our way in this troubled dominion.

  84. If you won't why do you expect others to? C'mon, your own leader is all about talking without action. Tough-on-crime but only after proroguement. Accountability but only if I can redact it first… Seems there's no end to the hypocrisy from Harper.

  85. So where does tipping off the enemy on the arrival of the Opposition Leader sit with you? That was another of Harper's sleight of hand backjabs that had nothing to do with protecting our troops — but it apparently was fine with you.
    Harper is hiding behind the troops. But just as he let his staff slap down a parent of a dead soldier for speaking their mind, he'll too winge and complain if the troops don't serve eagerly as his backdrop.
    CON supporters here are comical ruses.

  86. These documents are are several years old. Most of them are unlikely to relate to current tactical operations; phrases that relate to sensitive matters of military strategy, or to important locations we want to keep hidden, can remain redacted. The vast majority of the information should be able to be released to the Canadian public without endangering national security once the government and opposition leaders have agreed on the information to be redacted.

    There is no justification for keeping any material back on the basis that it would make Canada look bad or damage public relations, not even if said information could be used as a propaganda tool against us. Canadians need to understand what actions our government has taken on our behalf, even if they reflect poorly on us.

  87. FV soiled himself again. You should try wearing your tinfoil on the other end next time.

  88. Suggestions by the opposition on TV talk shows? I thought the triumph of today turned around the supremacy of the House, not political talkshow chambers.

    Where was the opposition's official request for a workable solution? I haven't seen one.

    That's why I'm saying that both sides will have to come up with something reasonable. And besides, that is what Milliken has so clearly stated. You know, it is not just the government side who can stand in the way of a reasonable solution. The opposition is able to do this as well. Don't take sides before we know how the process will unfold from here on in.

  89. Uh, so why didn't Harper make the other party leaders Privy Council members and lay out the information to them in secret? He could have done so at any time in the last six months. Problem solved before it even became a problem. But no, this is Harper. Any slight question must be made into a full-blown constitutional crisis, i can only surmise so as to give Harper more importance in the history books.

  90. You obviously haven't been following everthing.

    I think it's time some people stop with spewing their emptyness onto public forum grounds. I know it is not just me who's getting sick of this endless drivel (Harper is evil, Harper will throw another tantrum, Harper is an autocrat, on and on and on, Harper will ban all abortions, Harper is evil, Harper is evil……)

    My records show thatI have been contributing in a very reasonable manner. Look them up if you have a need for them.

    • Your records? Is there an FVerhoeven Hansard kinda thing that one can consult? Can we do a Milliken-ian perusal of precedent for the sources of your discontent…er…reason?

      Sorry, you seem unhinged. '74 points' of it.

  91. First time in my life I've ever seen anyone express panic over the mere suggestion that government might release sensitive documents to the general public, especially in light of the fact that it might just be a simple
    error in communication here.

    Veritable champion of democracy you are, madeyoullook.

    …Christ almighty…

  92. Nobody is trying to open this to all MPs, except in Conservative fantasy land. Seriously, you really need to look at what people have been actually saying all along. That was never on the table, except as a Harper scare tactic to try and hide the documents from everybody.

  93. Oh, well opposing Harper is un-Canadian as far as he's concerned, so that's perfectly alright.

  94. He's just going for an all time thumbs down record by posting as much complete nonsense as possible, don't mind him.

  95. Bang on

  96. Danby's 'closed off mind' is merely a mirror to Harper's soul. Dare say he who closes first, closes loudest.

  97. "Call it wishful thinking, but I'm hoping for some decorum in QP as an early second Christmas present to the voters."

    Unfortunately until MPs have an incentive to work together such will be reality. There simply is no real reason to answer questions in Question Period as each side is trying to score political points in front of the cameras. As much as Milliken would like to see that happen, he simply does not hold such power.

    However, if our electoral system were changed say to stv or any other preferential and proportional system, such an incentive would be there as MPs would have to treat all voters well in order to receive their second or third preferences as well as having to work with other parties once they get elected in order to get anything accomplished.

  98. I'm concerned about that too, but respecting the system is more important than making the right decision in this case. However I do think that the Liberals should be politically destroyed if this decision leads to an important op being compromised or innocent lives lost. That would require the media sticking to the story even if there is no hope of further embarrassing the CPC though….good luck.

  99. You obviously have a problem with our democracy. Because once again, as a Harperite, you have completely dismissed the law of the land, as reinforced by the Speaker of The House. Only Harperities believe they can make it up as they go along to suit themselves. That's not Canada. Let's see now. What's the next smear campaign by Harper thugs? Will it be the CBC? The Speaker of the House is part of a Liberal conspiracy, a coup d'etat, an overthrow of the Justice Department, an affront to our soldiers in uniform…your CONSERVATIVE CULTURE OF DECEIT AND CONTEMPT…is wholly event and was highlighted when King Harper was absent at the Speaker's ruling…your glorious leader "cut and run." Coward.

  100. Sorry, but Derek Lee and even Iggy himself have outlined possible solutions to concerns over secrecy and privacy — citing the CSIS review, SIRC, etc. you may have missed it as it was overshadowed by Mr. Harper's shuttering of Parliament.

  101. Context is everything.

  102. I guess you've missed the committee meetings.

  103. I'm surprised that nobody has brought up the fact that by being elected into the House, all members are eligible to hold government office and therefore should be permitted to view government documents. The only thing that has prevented this parliament from viewing the documents is the fact that a lot of them are not in the same party. Besides, the aiding and abetting of a crime committed in the name of any ideology or on the behalf of any country is just as much a crime.

  104. That's one way to look at it. The other way is that spin really is powerful, and the cynicism and mistrust of politicians is at an all-time high. Or to put it another way, the only Canadian who puts his full trust into whatever any politician says, at face value and in spite of evidence to the contrary, has been drinking the kool-aid.

  105. This may be the weakest arguments ever.

  106. It's sad, really. Why can't you read my posts before you answer to them. The answer you give here does not in any way answer to my post.

  107. I read your post. You want to know when an "official request" was made. Answer: March 18. The speaker cited himself in his ruling that the member for Toronto Centre (Bob Rae) proposed during debate in the House on Mar 18 the following:

    ―What we believe can be done is not beyond the ability of the House. It is done in many other parliaments. Indeed, there are circumstances under which it has even been done in this House. It is perfectly possible for unredacted documents to be seen by Members of Parliament who have been sworn in for the purpose of looking at those documents.

    That is a proposal to have members sworn in to view the unredacted documents in camera, made in the House of Commons. Looking at Hansard, Tom Lukiwski, in response, dismissed this proposal on the technicality that Mr. Rae did not propose this on Dec 10.

    There you go. A request to the government in the House of Commons. Seems rather official to me. What more do you want? A notarized letter?

  108. Look, there is no official compromise which has been made and voted on by all parties. You can spin it all you like but its not going to change the facts.

    Within my posts I have been talking about proof of an official compromise and it hasn't happened so far. That's why the speaker gave the stern suggestion to come up with one.

    BTW, I don't mind admitting when I'm wrong. I know I am not wrong in this case. Casual suggestions, undefined as such, is not the same as official accomodations made.

  109. Yes, that is a proposal, one out of many, but it's not one agreed upon by the majority of the house. Milliken is calling for one.

    Don't think we're out of the woods yet, because any attempt at coming to a meaningful agreement on how to view the detainee documents may indeed lead to further complications. It's not quite as simple as some make it out to be.

  110. I don't think for a second we're out of the woods either, though in addition to Mr. Rae's proposal, the Speaker cited other concrete examples of starting points that both parties can build upon in negotiations.

    I'm just responding to what you said,

    "The Official Request by the Opposite members of the House did never submit such request."

    Hansard shows this to be factually incorrect, and I wanted to set that straight. Though no compromise has yet been reached, an official request by an opposition member was indeed made.

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