The House will reconvene this morning and presumably pick up the privilege debate concerning Brad Butt. Yesterday’s debate starts here. Tom Lukwiski gamely tries to defend Mr. Butt here. (I might quibble with Mr. Lukiwski on two points. First, Mr. Butt didn’t quite correct the record at the Procedure and House Affairs committee. Rather, he changed the context—what he’d actually seen a week earlier was then something he’d heard anecdotally. There was no acknowledgement that his first version was incorrect. Second, Mr. Lukiwski argues that if Mr. Butt hadn’t admitted the mistake, nothing would have come of his original statement. Maybe. Or maybe the complaint to Elections Canada in regards to his comments would have eventually resulted in some kind of reckoning.)
Eventually, things got weird, with a minor debate over the applicability of comparisons to Russia and a Conservative MP suggesting that if he was more like the NDP he would relentlessly pursue the author of this comparison “until he started to cry to mommy.”
Anyway. This particular situation is rather ridiculous in its entirety. But here we are.
The government will apparently move at some point to end this privilege debate. Meanwhile, the Procedure and House Affairs committee is due to meet at 11am and presumably the NDP’s David Christopherson will then resume his filibuster (which is now at about three hours).
In addition to Preston Manning’s concern, Harry Neufeld questions the Fair Elections Act‘s provision to give incumbent candidates and parties the power to recommend polling supervisors. Pierre Poilievre parried this point yesterday by pointing out that Elections Canada will maintain the right to refuse any of those recommendations. Leadnow’s Andrew Schletzky quibbles with the Fair Elections Act on a few fronts. Sixty-two percent of respondents to one poll are suspicious of the government’s intent. And a former lawyer for Elections Canada questions how the legislation would limit the chief electoral officer’s ability to communicate on investigations.
The New Democrats have also tabled a number of motions (No. 7 through No. 14) related to the study of the Fair Elections Act. Because the bill has been passed at second reading—essentially adopting the bill in principle—there are limits as to how far an amendment can go in changing the bill. (The NDP had proposed that the bill be sent to committee before a vote at second reading, theoretically providing the committee more latitude to amend the bill.) Those motions, if adopted by the House, would give the Procedure and House Affairs committee more latitude.
All previous coverage of the Fair Elections Act is here.
Update 2:10pm. This morning’s first move went to the government, who moved concurrence on a committee report, forcing a debate about matters unrelated to the question of privilege concerning Brad Butt. The government has since moved closure on the question of privilege, meaning there will be a vote tonight, at the end of the day’s scheduled business, to determine whether or not to send the matter of Mr. Butt to the Procedure and House Affairs committee for further study.
Meanwhile, at the Procedure and House Affairs committee, the Conservatives have moved to extend this morning’s meeting indefinitely. This effectively challenges Mr. Christopherson to a test of stamina—the NDP MP can continue with his filibuster, but the Conservatives are apparently prepared to sit there until he gives up or passes out. Mr. Christopherson is receiving a break at the moment with MPs summoned to the House to vote on the government’s closure motion and he will receive a similar break for any subsequent votes, but otherwise he will have to keep talking, conceivably through the night and into tomorrow if he is both willing and able.