"The government put other conditions on the table." - Macleans.ca

“The government put other conditions on the table.”

So the question is, will the opposition allow themselves to be played in this way?


What a surprise

Talks to avoid a parliamentary showdown and a possible snap election have bogged down as parties haggle over the finer details of a deal to let MPs view uncensored Afghan detainee records.

Bloc Québécois House Leader Pierre Paquette suggested the parties are still significantly divided as he emerged from morning negotiations Thursday with the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP.

“The government put other conditions on the table,” Mr. Paquette told reporters. “Their position is not the same . . . so we are far from a solution.”

What could possibly be going on?

…the negotiations into which the government has lately entered are in all likelihood a diversion. The aim is to stall, and probe for divisions within and between the parties, notably the Liberals’ palpable fear of an election. The differences between government and opposition will be made to appear as if they were over questions of detail, rather than fundamental principles. So that when, inevitably, the negotiations break down, the government will sigh and claim that it went the extra mile, as it strove to balance its conflicting obligations, but was thwarted by an intransigent and unreasonable opposition.

So the question is, will the opposition allow themselves to be played in this way? Will they heed the voices telling them that this is not worth fighting an election over? Will they chicken out? Or will they, you should pardon the expression, man up?

UPDATE, FRIDAY 11 AM: It seems, notwithstanding my explicit predictions to the contrary, that they have a deal. Facts 1, Coyne 0.

Filed under:

“The government put other conditions on the table.”

  1. The Opposition has the right to see the documents. i.e. Parliamentary Privilege is satisfied. They don't have the right to publicaly release the documents, which are protected by laws passed by that same Parliament.

    If they don't like what they see in the documents, then they have the right and obligation to defeat the government.

    • Actually, they have agreed not to release any document that has to do with national security. I think they are more likely bogged down in the definitions, with the government claiming any document that makes them look bad is a matter of national security.

      • Come on. You leftists don't really believe your own crap, do you? I know you don't.

    • They don't need the detainee documents to defeat the government today. Like Andrew says….Man UP. However, they know what will happen to them.

      I thought somebody said that Parliament is not subject to their own laws. They are above the law. Is this true?

      • It would be inaccurate to say Parliament is above the law. The Speaker stated, however, that the interpretation of legislation the Government was asserting was invalid because Parliament was not explicitly named. Since none of the legislation specifically stated that Parliament could not apply its privileges to matters of national security, constitutionally, the Government's argument was false.

    • They also have the right to release the documents. They're not going to, but they do. There are no laws pertaining to Parliament releasing the documents.

  2. Yup. It's a shocker all right.

  3. This is disgraceful. What's the point of having an opposition if they cannot successfully oppose the government on such a fundamental principle as the rights of parliament. If they come out of these "negotiations" having bolstered the government's case for secrecy, heads ought to roll in the Liberal and NDP camps.

    • I said it when Milliken made his ruling and I will repeat it now. Everybody was saying Harper lost. He did not. Milliken allowed the government off the hook by insisting that National Security be protected at all costs. There is no real definition of what national security means. Up to this point it has been the government that has made that decision solely.

      Graham in yesterday's hearing really bolstered the position of the government. Others have also testified that they heard about torture but had no evidence. The two are entirely different. Our military were busy fighting the Taliban. They were not worried about detainees and whether they were being tortured by their own government.

      Its easy to sit in our comfy chairs here in Canada and question the actions of our military on the battle field. Sad really.

      • The Speaker didn't say National Security had to be protected at all costs… so…

        • You'll notice I didn't quote him verbatim but lets not argue about the finer points. He did say protecting national security was important.

          • The difference is that one version is "we all agree national security is important" and the other one is wrong.

            Parliament decides what's national security, and whether to release it. If it decides to let the government do that, it's entitled.

          • Yes.. let's not argue the finer points because they'd show you to be pretty much dead wrong. National security being important but in no manner or means trumping parliamentary privilege.

      • Milliken did not say this.

        YOu are mistaken or lying.

  4. They will chicken out. The Liberals have spent the last year running around screaming the sky is falling, and you ask what Chicken Littles will do?

  5. Mr Milliken "manned up".
    If forced to, the Opposition has to "man up
    The media has to "man up"
    and the voters…..?
    They have to wake up

    • danby…..all wishful thinking. It isn't going to happen. Milliken handed Harper an out by saying national security must be protected. The Libs are terrified of an election and their MPs don't want to lose their entitlements or their pensions so there will be no Man Up. The media is so devoid of scruples and morals that they will continue as an unelected opposition party hoping beyond hope that Canadians will de-elect the current government.
      The people are awake. You may not agree with how they are thinking but they are watching and listening and they are saying a pox on all your houses but we will stick with the guy who got us through the recession thank you very much. The rest of you can fight over detainees, abortion and Guergis/Jaffer. We could care less.

      • Who really wants an election? Do the Conservatives feel that an election would bring about a majority? Is this line in the sand worth an election to them? How many minorities will Harper oversee before it is decided another leader might be the one to climb to the next level and secure a majority?
        No, I don't think either side has the ideal hand that would make them welcome an election.

        Looking back, prorogation revealed a few things: Mr Harper thought no one would care. But the public did care . Even the G&M spoke loud and clear against it. Is Mr Harper so certain that no one would care about this? It's amazing what a few editorials and some grass roots organizing can stir up. There is always an element of a campaign that is unpredictable – not everything goes to plan or poll.
        I'll agree that the economy is a big card, but it is not the only card. Canadians are a funny bunch, and will stand firm on principle if pushed – dare Mr Harper disturb their slumber?. You seem very certain that this is an issue that will not resonate at the polls, but what if it was demonstrated that it is but a part of a larger, empty box labelled accountability That just might shift things around a bit

        • Nope – but they're happy to get another minority, and drain their opponents' coffers in the process.

          • But will a minority victory lead to a challenge of Mr Harper's leadership- is he willing to risk that? Even to drain the opponent's coffers?
            What if he lost a few seats (Simcoe Grey for example) but held on to a lesser minority – Could Stephen Harper go quietly into that good night?
            Does he want to?…….
            The only other reason Stephen Harper night rush to the polls is to beat the Sheila Frazer report release – assuming, of course that there are revelations that could cause a voter shift away from Conservative – remember the 3 billion slush fund we had to "trust" them on? Hmmmmm….

          • I can't see anyone challenging Harper's leadership unless he's well and truly defeated (except perhaps the quixotic Maxime Bernier, who won't go over too well in Alberta). The Guergis situation is, among other things, a reminder to the Tory faithful of what happens when you cross the Leader.

          • An open challenge? I agree.
            But what if a groundswell within the party is looking to the next step? What if they feel that Stephen Harper was a great leader, but now has too much baggage, and that a new face is needed to move into majority territory.
            I know he's bigger than the will of Parliament, but is he bigger than the Conservative Party?

          • Sorry Danby, If the people don`t want to get rid of Harper and the LPC don`t know how to, then you shouldn`t expect the good folks in the CPC to do it for you.

          • I have no beef with the Conservative Party in general, and have (a grudging) respect for what Mr Harper has accomplished – it's healthy to have at least 2 strong parties.
            But for me personally, until SH moves on I will not consider voting Conservative federally.
            I simply do not like the way he does business

    • Milliken did not man up. He invoked parliamentary supremacy over the government, showing just a little shoulder, then covered everything up again with a two-week (and counting) set-aside.

  6. The answer is YES.

  7. It never was about the treatment of Afghan detainees.
    It was always about damaging the Harper govt.

    Then it morphed into Parliament is supreme.
    Well, only if you don't precipitate an election you can't 'win'.

    • Agree with you Wilson.
      After Bill Graham's testimony yesterday the Liberals are now less anxious to see the documents.

      • They've known all along.

        That is not what this is about.

        Having been told repeatedly about the suspicions of torture, what did the Conservatives do? Apparently, nothing.

        • They were busy fighting a war. You may not like it but your buddy Jean Chretien put us there and we are doing the best we can no thanks to the cuts by the Liberals and the depletion of the forces.

          • It's possible this is true.

            So let's see the docs and find out.

        • That's not true. In fact, most of the allegations pertain to the time period when Liberals were in power.

          It sometimes doesn't occur to some of you that maybe the Harper government genuinely does have the interests of the troops in mind. They don't want their names tarnished while they're still on the battlefield.

          • Pish posh!

            Do you believe for a minute that Harper would be keeping these docs secret if they made the libs look worse than him. The egg is gonna mostly be on Tory faces when this is over.

    • Your chronology is just about bang-on. It's exactly how it's transpired.

    • Well, it "morphed" into parliament being supreme because of Harper. All he had to do was produce the documents and this would have been over a long time ago.

      Do try to get your facts straight.

    • It was never about secrecy
      It was always about avoiding the appearance of weakness and indecision.

      Then it morphed into you can't tell me what to do.
      Well, only if you don't turn in another lame half result election, clock's ticking on the rightwing social reform

  8. What puzzles me is why the LIbs allowed it to go this far.

    Surely they knew last fall they were in no position financially, in leadership nor in polling to fight an election. Surely they knew in December that the detainee issue was at best having minor resonance with the voters. Surely they knew when the House voted to demand all the detainee documents that Harper would refuse. Surely they knew that even if the Speaker supported the privilege challenges, that Harper would at best toy with them. Surely they know Harper is absolutely prepared to do permanent harm to our democracy and more than willing to fight and likely win an election over these issues.

    Surely the Liberals knew. Surely. And yet they walked, nay ran right to the cliff edge. Like idiots.

    I'm disgusted with all the parties. As dishonest and self-serving as the Cons are, at least they are not displaying the stupidity of the Libs.

    • i.e. they'll cave. Just like the Cons, when faced with a choice between their short-term well-being and, well, anything else, the Libs will choose to protect themselves.

      • Well, isn't that what politics is about? So, they should force an election on the issue then, when they know what will happen?

        I agree, the Libs under Ignatieff are not faring well. Maybe he should step aside and let the LPC determine who should be leader. Rae is looking better all the time.

        • Having the ability to force an election is like having a gun with one bullet in it. You can shoot, but you'd better not miss.

          I have tremendous respect for Rae, but he is absolutely unelectable in Ontario. Too many people are unhappy with what he did there when he was premier. And Ontario is a key battleground for the Liberals.

          And I have to think that the Conservative war room has all sorts of footage on tap of Rae bashing the Liberals when he was with the NDP, which they would be only too eager to haul out in a carpet bombing of attack ads should the opportunity arise.

    • I agree with you other than for Harper harming our democracy. I don't know about you but I still have all the rights I had when he came to power. The media has not be banned, and are still trying to make him cowtow to them. They are losing the battle. Of course the opposition are still in full rhetorical flight. Crime victims are getting a more robust criminal justice system and most Canadians have more money to use as they see fit. I am afraid you have no idea what democracy is all about. It is simply a talking point.

      • i asked a friend the other day, who was bellyaching about Harper – how is your life worse under Tory govt, exactly?

        no reply at all.

        then she bellyached about McGuinty and had enough answers to the same question to fill a book.

        • I'll answer this one. My life is worse under this Harper government because I can't get any reliable information about what kind of things they're planning and what they'll follow through with. This directly impacts my line of work.

          My life is worse because of what Harper did to income trusts after swearing up and down that he wouldn't.

          My life is worse under this Harper government because I know I'm going to be dealing with a situation in the future where my taxes will increase or my services will decrease to pay for the debt because this government has squandered so much money on Economic Action Plan! signs and 10%ers.

          My life is worse under this Harper government because the very nature of our government has been damaged, and Harper has shown future PM's just how little they need to actually pay attention to those who we elect.

          My life is worse because good friends had their jobs permanently destroyed when Harper gave away a billion dollars of the BC Lumber industry's money.

          But primarily, my life is worse under this Harper government because it's made me disgusted with so many fellow Canadians who seem bound and determined to keep their eyes and ears covered to whatever goes on in the name of Canada, so long as "At least it's not the Liberals."

          • 1) vague, since we don't know what your job is
            2) if income trusts actually affected your life then you're an over-privileged idiot
            3) 10%ers are going to result in tax hikes or spending cuts? please.
            4) yawn
            5) worse than if not a single splinter of wood could be sold to the U.S.?
            6) At least it's not the Liberals.

          • So.. when I give specific details about how my life is worse under the Harper gov't, your answer is essentially, "Oh I don't care anyway."

            Well.. at least we know how Harper supporters really feel about if their fellow Canadians find things more difficult.

          • I'd care if you put something legitimate up… I'm actually NOT a Harper supporter, just pointing out your list is pretty lame.

          • Income trusts aren't legitimate?
            Lack of access to information (not just for me, but for the multitude of organizations that rely on gov't data) isn't a legitimate concern?
            Excess and wasted public spending on partisan advertising isn't a legitimate concern?
            Concern about how future PM's need not listen to the people between elections isn't legitimate?
            The billion dollar give-away isn't legitimate? (Do remember, it was Harper himself who declared when speaking about what he'd do were he to become PM would be to demand the Americans fully live up to their NAFTA obligations.. obligations which basically every arbitration measure said we were in the right on)
            You being an ass isn't.. oh.. well.. I guess that one really isn't legitimate.. I can't blame Harper for that one.

          • Poor, poor, Thwim, and it`s all Harper`s fault.

          • Good to see that display of Harper supporter concern. But we already knew what you were about, common, so it's not necessary from you.

          • Hey Gilbert, I`m still waiting for that apology.

          • Income trust investors are 'over-priviledged idiots'? Have you found some magic way to provide for your retirement, that doesn't include saving and investing?

          • Thwim….I don't know what your line of work is but trust me Canadians are not flooding the government with access to information requests. When they decide what they are doing they will tell us. In the meantime relax.

            You can blame your friends in the opposition who demanded billions in stimulus spending. The Liberals said too much and then they said not enough. However, if the coalition had taken over and the NDP with their fingers in the cookie jar the deficit would be a lot higher. I thought you guys liked infrastructure spending. If you are worried about 10 % ers which every party uses then things must be running pretty good.

            Your life is worse under this Harper government. Sure that's right. Harper is a Conservative facing 3 left wing parties who have tried to stymie anything he has tried to do. Because he does not cowtow to the opposition and the lame street media he is making your life miserable. As Coyne says….Man Up.

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

            Go ahead and name a piece of legislation that the opposition parties stymied that Harper himself didn't kill by proroguing on. He's not cowtowing to the opposition? Didn't you just say he's a minority? Perhaps you should think on that.

          • Thwim….hollinm continued….

            Harper got $5 billion back for the industry. Your buddies in the Liberal party didn't solve the issue and they had 13 years to do it. Meanwhile the industry was being killed with outrageous import taxes on their product. These are tough economic times. Perhaps you could speak to Barak Obama and ask him why the housing industry fell apart in the U.S. and there are fewer new houses being built. Harper could cure cancer and you would say what about M.S.

          • You're a liar. Why should anybody listen to you?

            In addition, it's true, it had been a long time. That's because the arbitration process isn't quick when the US appeals every ruling they make..(and gets defeated nearly every time) The US was down to the wire. We were on their last possible out for an appeal when Harper decided to kick over the bucket.

          • Thwim….hollinm continued

            .The NDP are still rooted in the 50's and while their policies sound good they are not practical or would break the bank. The Liberals are led by a neophyte politician who lacks a connection with the common person and has given little evidence that he has the ability to lead a national party let alone a national government. The party was found guilty of stealing from taxpayers and paid back $1 million as evidence. Canadians do not forget and these things have been noticed by them and the Liberals are still being held to account.

            I keep reading your post and really for the life of me cannot see how Harper has destroyed Canadian democracy. I guess its all in the eye of the beholder of which you are in the minority at this point.

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

            You're also a partisan hack, which has been pointed out before. You can't see it simply because it's "your guy" in power doing it. Wait until it's the next guy who stonewalls parliament when they ask for information, prorogues when they put forward anything that might be considered non-confidence.. hell.. I know how you'll react, look how you reacted when Martin merely delayed the non-confidence suggestion, but eventually allowed it to come forward to a vote.

            Harper's never allowed a non-confidence motion to come to pass.. he kills government when one is threatened. Instead, he makes sure that any chance for non-confidence is tied to a budget or a throne speech which is so full of platitudes and lies that killing it would spell death at the hustings as we all know he'd lie even further to the Canadian public about the opposition's reasons for calling election.

      • Not on the mailing list, Don't get the talking points. By "harming democracy" I'm referring to the proroguing, defying the demand of the House for docs and what I expect would be no hesitation whatsoever to undermine any doc agreement that might be reached.

        Frankly, if it wasn't for the deceit on the the income trusts, the above issues, the Ontario HST (driven by the federal government), the deceit on the the accountability act, ATI games, and, finally, the continued existence of Pierre "The Weasel" Pollievre, I might actually consider the Cons. So, unlike many for me it's not blind ideology. I'm far worse off as a result of this government

        BTW, save the empty insults for you friends.

        • 'ATI games'
          did you notice that the uproar was over a reporter request, not an ATI request as the media first misled all to believe…..it was a G&M reporter asking for costs on a program that was still running.
          The reporter got his cost sheet, within 3 weeks of the finish of the ad program, much quicker than the usual 3 months.
          But our media drop the stories that have no negative value against Harper. So it is understandable that this is news to many.
          Just another faux scandal.

          • That's right. Because the media are all out to get you.

            Conservative=Victim. God forbid you and your be accountable for your own actions. It's all the damn media's fault when your party looks bad.

          • You obviously missed the recent report on the current state of ATI. I believe th Commisioner said our rights were close to being obliterated.

    • I don't know. harper's behaviour has an air of irreality about it. Why would you run away from the very rules and principles you worked all your life to defend? I keep thinking, OK when is he going to stop playing cutesy little games and start following the rules. I'm not sure anybody could have foreseen the utter contempt he would treat the very system he is the titular head of.

      • Mike T. wrote:
        "has an air of irreality about it"

        Hmmm…….I like it.

      • I am one of those that did foresee this, and was saying so back when Martin was still PM. For my troubles I got branded a Lib partisan, operative, paid supporter when in reality I am none of these things and never have been. What I am is a traditional Canadian swing voter that has in his life voted NDP, Lib, and PCPC depending on the election and my local candidate each time who believes that no democracy can work if the electorate/voter does not make a point of staying informed on the major political issues of the day and the fundamental political philosophies/ideologies of the respective parties and leaders. Harper's contempt for the Canadian political institutions was out there for all to see back in the late 80s and 90s, indeed into the early part of this decade too until he finally realized he was unelectable so long as he stayed open about it. After his loss in 2004 he transformed himself into this centrist conservative image he has campaigned on and done everything he could to scrub from public view his prior statements and public appearances both as a politician and when he was the head of the NCC.

        I have always said that Harper is something fundamentally alien to the Canadian political traditions and culture and shown from where he gets his core beliefs, the American neoconservative movement which was shaped by a man called Leo Strauss, whose writings are also a core component of the Calgary School of political thought of which Harper has been a lifelong member of. This is the same philosopher who shaped the views of men like Dick Cheny, Scooter Libby and Bill Krystal and their contempt for the rule of law and Constitution of their country, so why would it be any different with Harper where the Canadian rule of law, precedent and Constitution is concerned?

        So yes, some of us did see this coming, but we were branded hysterics and partisans and fear mongerers. Well, those of us that did try to warn about Harper in this regard certainly can relate to the mythological Cassandra these days.

    • If one of the two main opposition party leaders would stand firmly for the principle of the supremacy of parliament I believe they would have all the support necessary from a grateful population at the next election, whenever that might be. They wouldn't have to spend a dime to convince me to vote for them. Principled actions speak much more loudly than mere words in the political arena.

  9. Which raises the question: Was this the hill worth dying on for the opposition? According to Mr. Coyne, the answer appears to be yes. It's yet to be seen if the Liberals think so, too. Which raises another question: Why do they keep drawing these lines in the sand if they then get squeamish about having to defend it?

    • What hill is that? The investigation/disclosure of potential torture hill or the Parliamentary supremacy hill?

      • Does it matter? Either one was a foolish line of attack to press if not politically productive and/or they couldn't be bothered to follow through. Funny how those of us that kept harping on that, months back, were shouted down with giddy torture talk.

      • Hmmm. I'd say it's the potential torture hill, and they may well have surrendered the parliamentary supremacy hill in its defence. So, was the former worth the latter? I've always been skeptical. Yet this opposition doesn't seem to be very picky about the battles it chooses.

        Although I still have a hard time believing that we're going to have an election over this. Which probably means that the Liberals will find yet another spectacular way of performing their renowned version of the blinkety-blink.

        • Of course, none of this would be a problem if the government didn't insist on pushing the limits of secrecy, power and accountability.

          As much as we're frequently disappointed in the opposition's lack of effectiveness in reining in the excesses of the Harper government, let's not forget the source of these problems.

          It's like the Conservatives get a shrug and a "boys will be boys!" while everybody piles on the opposition for failing to limit the damage the Conservatives are doing to our system of government.

          • But that's just it. It's the opposition that always raising the stakes on these issues, and all Harper does is call them on it. If it was nearly as serious as you say, then the opposition would back up their words with deeds. However, as it stands now, they're just not willing. Is that Harper's fault? I don't think so.

          • Uh, except that Harper is the one continually raising the stakes by stonewalling, proroguing and now defying the will of Parliament. Is that the oppositions' fault? I don't think so.

          • TJCook….If the opposition were principled and believed in half the crap they talk about this government would have fallen long ago if everything they accuse them of is true.

            However, the ultimate determining factor is the people. Canadians do not believe what the opposition parties have been spouting for four years. They have no confidence in the media and seriously doubt they are balanced and unbiased in their reporting.

            So Harper is not at fault because he is a better politician than the rest of them. If the opposition have no guts then there is no glory. However, the people are telling them consistently. We don't much like any of you but we are going to stick with the current guy regardless of the outlandish comments and the torqued headlines.

          • The Liberals are trying to find a scandal that will not only bring down the Conservatives but RAISE the Liberal popular standings. They've found the scandals but the scandals haven't paid off in Liberal popularity. Hence the so many lines in the sand. Each time they draw the line, they are sure this is the big one with the big payoff…oops!

          • Actually.. many Canadians do believe what the opposition parties have been saying. But note that plural there. Opposition parties. In a FPTP electoral system, parties loses to party, even if the parties have more votes combined.

          • Hollinm – not a word of your reply was relevant to what I said.

        • The parliamentary supremacy hill is no metaphorical hill, it's a swamp. I mean that in the sense that, while ultimately more important to the nation, it would be impossible for the opposition to fight an election on what amount to obscure parliamentary traditions, rules and privileges. The Speaker's ruling is ceremonially supportive of the the principle (while being empty in substance, I'd argue) so no sense fighting in a swamp.

          Torture and the potential thereof was the real issue and worth going to the mat over. But the Libs have played their hand so badly, that they have made it impossible to win anything now.

          • I'd say you're pretty much wrong on the "torture" issue, which is why the parliamentary issue may have been wasted on it. Canadians know it's war. They know it's a foreign culture. They know they want to get out of there. So, nothing probably gets accomplished by endlessly exploring these allegations, which might well be why Harper has strung the opposition along all the while.

          • You're saying neither issue matters? I do not agree. If Canadians were complicit or worse in torture, then that should not and cannot go undisclosed and unpunished. Politicians with morals and balls would act not cave. Torture is a hill worth dying on. I'd bet most Canadians agree with that.

          • Please adhere to what I've actually written. I didn't state that neither issue matters. I did state that the one issue is a tough hill to die on, especially using the other issue.

            If Canadians truly did agree with you on this, the opposition would never have gotten this far. Harper would have caved even before the first shout made from the opposition benches.

            Polling shows that most Canadians believe that torture happened. Personally, I don't think it happened as much as is generally thought, and that's because of how many times the opposition yells the word "torture" at the drop of a hat. Nevertheless, even if it did happen, Canadians accept that Afghans would do it to terrorists who just blew up their wife and kids. It's probably wrong, and one reason we want to leave after all this time.

            Again, it's not nearly the black and white issue that many of you claim it to be. This coming from people who generally reject black and white distinctions.

          • However you couch it, you're saying neither are ultimately worth fighting for.

            "Harper would have caved even before the first shout…" Are we talking about our PM, Stephen Harper? Come on, Harper is either deathly afraid of what might be revealed or he's being even more pigheaded than normal. Either way, cooperating was never on.

            Who exactly do you think "…many of you…" are? That's a bit pompous, no?

          • Again, please do not alter what I've stated.

            Regarding public opinion, Harper has made countless moves in light of it. Employment insurance, stimulus spending, bare minimum vote on gay marriage, etc. He has to. He's prime minister. He answers to the people, not the opposition parties.

            I'm basing my view of public opinion on things like polling and political developments. The parties, especially the biggest ones, are acting in certain ways, and it's because of public opinion. It's Politics 101. That you don't care about this seems pompous to me.

          • "Polling shows that most Canadians believe that torture happened. Personally, I don't think it happened as much as…"

            There's a simple solution here. An investigation will tell us if torture happened. You're taking it for granted that we'll never know.

            And frankly I'm sick of debating political expediency, polling data and which party has the bigger set of balls. Canadians are accused of violating the Geneva Conventions. We have a responsibility to find out what happened and – if laws were broken – make sure it never happens again.

  10. Will they chicken out?

    As ever, yes.

  11. I am not as pessimistic, but even so, it might behoove some journalists to recall the names of the movers and seconders of the Order of Parliament, so as to keep them true / make it difficult for them to back down: "The House resumed consideration of the motion of Mr. Dosanjh (Vancouver South), seconded by Mr. Cotler (Mount Royal), in relation to the Business of Supply; And of the amendment of Mr. Ignatieff (Etobicoke—Lakeshore), seconded by Mr. Goodale (Wascana). " From:http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publicat

  12. What happens to Milliken's ultimatum if Parliament is dissolved? I just don't get how the Government can blame the failure of the negotiation on the opposition; they're the ones being held in contempt. Even if the opposition is decidedly impossibly unreasonable, Milliken's motion specifies the Government has to hand over the documents regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

    So why the sudden talk about election if the position of the opposition is secured in this matter?

    • __Milliken's motion specifies the Government has to hand over the documents regardless of the outcome of the negotiations… but not the right to make the documents public.
      The Govt is legally responsible in that event.

      • He didn't say they don't have the right either though. But at least you're being honest this time.

    • Ah but you are being selective in your statement. Milliken said that while parliament is supreme national security must be protected at all costs. This changes the whole thing. The government is the one that determines what is national security, not three opposition parties. You may not like it but those are the facts.

      After Graham's testimony yesterday I am sure the Libs are not that excited about persuing this matter much further. This reminds me of Iffy's cry…Mr. Harper your time is up! Excuse me Count Iffy if you force an election it will be your time that is up. Like when Canadians told him they did not want an election he is again not listening to the Canadian people and he is heading for a cliff from from which there will no escape.

      • No. Parliament is suzerain. The government is beholden to Parliament, not the other way around.

        It's a principle called "democracy" you see…you seem to get it mixed up with "facism"…

      • "Milliken said that while parliament is supreme national security must be protected at all costs."

        Please stop repeating that lie.

      • He did not say this.

        Why do you continue to lie?

        • SOP for conservative "logic" — repeat it often enough and the actual decent people out there might start to believe it because they have a hard time understanding that people such as him have no trouble with blatantly lying.

          If enough people start to believe it, then it doesn't matter what the truth actually is, as elections are based on beliefs, not facts.

      • "at all costs"

        The speaker said no such thing. You've been in revisionist mode since before he delivered the ruling,

    • It's a good question. My guess is that, if the deadline arrives with no settlement, and the opposition votes that the government is in contempt of Parliament, then Harper will declare the issue one of non-confidence in the government, and ask the GG to call an election. The contempt motion would die? Maybe?

      If Harper wins a majority, then there's no votes to revive the contempt motion. If he doesn't, then he'll have to finally comply. Or, he loses government outright, and it's a free-for all with all those docs!

      • "Or, he loses government outright, and it's a free-for all with all those docs! "

        "Free-for-all?" What do you mean by free-for-all?

  13. I like the idea that the government and opposition cannot work this torture documentation issue out because Mr Milliken believes Parliament has a right to see un-redacted documents, the opposition believes they have that right as well and the government in power does not….they are in contempt and we will see how the house responds in this matter hopefully on Friday. It's apparent that this government cannot compromise like a minority government must. If Canadians wanted a majority government with all the power we would have elected one.
    Not to completely change the subject but I like the B.C. Liberal idea about giving every Canadian who votes a $50 dollar tax credit. Perhap if more people voted we might see some real representation for a change.

    • The Government is no longer opposed to letting the Opposition see the documents. They are just opposed to national security being compromised by making them public.

      In the States, the Congressional Intelliugence committee's can see everything. They just can talk or discuss what they see in public.

      Parliamentary privilege means the Opposition can see the documents. It doesn't give them the right to release the documents.

      They can have their hearing behind closed doors like they do in the United States.

      • Not quite. They are disagreeing on what constitutes national security. You are suggesting the majority of parliamentarians do not care about the security of the country they serve. That's just kind of stupid, don't you think?

    • A slight correction to your understanding of minority governance. As long as they have the confidence of the House, they are, in essence, receiving the cooperation of at least one other party. For most of the last four years, it's been the Liberal party, with one magnificent exception being the NDP last fall.

      • Canadians are not stupid people…..the election that we don't want has mostly to do with the cost of having one and less to do with opposition agreeing with the Harper government.
        Now this whole deal about examining the documents in private away from the public doesn't mean that if the government lied about the torture that we Canadians will never know does it? The purpose is to find out who knew what when about torture of prisoners over there in Afghanistan and this is something we need to know!

  14. It may be that Harper's end game was also his first move,
    Judge Iaco decides.

    But the Opps wanted to be 'the Boss' and passed up that opportunity, as if that would be, somehow, letting Harper off the hook.

  15. We are heading for an election or an appeal to the Supreme Court. However, we all know the Libs are terrified of an election and they know Harper is not to be toyed with. Andrew wants this detainee thing exposed but after Bill Graham's testimony yesterday and others there is no smoking gun. The PM believes he has the people on his side and if the opposition want an election over detainees he will be happy to give it to them. Its easy for Coyne to say Man UP. Its not his pension that could go down the drain if there is an election and the incumbent loses.

    • That about says it. All issues should be decided first by what protects parliamentary pension entitlements.

      • If they can delay this detaineee thing for another 2 weeks (then an election) 70+ more MPs are entitled to a pension….

        • Why an election? Why not a coalition? The house leader will decide if the government is in contempt and if so who decided what to do about it?

  16. I don't think the Opposition knows what it means to "man up". They probably object to the very use of the term on pc grounds.

  17. providing aid and comfort to the enemy used to get you shot.

    ah, the good old days.

    • Yes, but the Speaker is immune to that while in the House.

    • ah, chicken hawks

    • George W. Bush called, he wants his talking points back.

    • Now that gets your Liberal riding nomination papers signed! LOL!

  18. I see you got the thread that unravels how Harper and the CPC work…it's fun when you can predict, based on those tenets, the how an organization functions…

    Unfortunately, I am also waiting to see when the LPC finds its cahones…and barring that, who will be the one to find it for them…

    • Cojones. Sorry, I can't help myself.

  19. 2008 redux: Harper can then claim Parliament is dysfunctional and seek an election.

    • lol @ harper calling another election…..

  20. Just a reminder for some people about what happens when Liberals stand against both Harper and public opinion. It happened last fall. Iggy thumped his chest. His poll numbers sank. He ended up looking even worse than a similarly humbled Jack Layton.

    Again, the opposition has a tendency to holler and scream about a lot of things. It doesn't necessarily make it right, or wise.

    • Like 'Harper must tell us why he fired Helena'…lol, that's their #2 priority right now, poor Helena.

      • More like – Harper lied to the Canadian people about why he fired a cabinet minister.

        • Turns out he canned her because the Opposition had nothing better to do than to badger him about her all day. How many weeks did Guergis questions dominate QP? Four? Five? Too bad the "Official Opposition" can't focus on supposedly important issues because they're too busy chasing the next utterly inconsequential scandal du jour, like a kitten chasing string.

          • is that a legal reason to fire? Talk about poor judgment on Harper's part……

          • Perfectly legal. Harper, as Prime Minister, is allowed to sack any of his ministers for any reason he chooses.

          • Oh. I see. So now the opposition is making decisions for Harper?

            In that case, I hope they have nothing better to than badger Harper about Flaherty every day.

            OR, maybe you can place responsibility for this firing where it belongs – on Harper, what with the fact he's the guy who fired her, and he's the guy who mislead Canadians as to why.

            Remember when conservatives would talk about the importance of being accountable and taking responsibility for their own actions? Good times, good times…

  21. An exit strategy is being crafted by the LPC at this very moment. When the gov`t announce that select Parliamentarians may see the documents but may not release confidential info to the press, then this issue will be dropped by the Libs. What good is an issue to the LPC if they cannot be selective in releasing bits and pieces that may harm the gov`t ?
    I never thought the Libs cared about the Detainees or Parliament. It was always about slinging mud. And some of the naive plussers here will become mysteriously silent about their " Parliament is Supreme" mantra when they realize that even the LPC have decided that theme won`t help them anymore.

    • The point about national security goes out the window if in fact the opposition finds that the Harper government lied and have objective people agree with them! The matter could go straight to the Hague or the opposition could not disclose what the information is but that it is proof and we all know the proof is the proof. Hell Harper doesn't think he has to inform Canadians about matters before the court but it doesn't take rocket science if the matter goes to the court!

  22. There's another point I wanted to make that might shed some light on this issue.

    I don't think you'd ever see the Conservatives pursue this issue in opposition in the way that the current opposition has. They never would have made a huge stink about torture allegations in the first place. If there were allegations, they might have raised them, and asked some serious questions, but never make it front-and-centre.

    And they most certainly would never have tried to take a government to the brink of an election on such an issue.

    So, what you have here, in a sense, is a serious disagreement about what's in the interests of this country and our efforts in Afghanistan. Conservatives don't want torture allegations to ever be the focus. This opposition clearly does.

    And that, in large part, is why we are where we are, methinks.

    • I`m always hesitant to praise the comments of fellow Conservatives here to avoid the herd mentality that I see sometimes where one Lib will make a statement and be followed by several others saying basically the same thing. Also, I think Conservatives tend to be more individualistic…..willing to stand alone with their opinions ….not needing the reassurance of their fellows.
      Having said that, I will say that Dennis just made a good point showing the difference of policy between the two Parties, and hollinm has been right on this evening, and wilson is almost always good.

      • Dennis has been particularly insightful this evening.

        • He's often underestimated.

          • Then why are you guys getting all the thumbs-up and not me! lol

          • Hate to break it to you, Dennis, but there's at least four or five big-"L" Liberals here who will thumb down anything you write, regardless of content or merit.

          • To be fair, I'm not a Big-L Liberal, and I do that to Dennis's comments. I don't even really read them anymore. Both actions improve my internet experience.

          • And that attitude is exactly why the thumb-rating system is now fairly worthless.

          • The thumb thing has never been anything more than a way of feeling an enhanced sense of personal involvement with the site, like a Pavlov button. I like it when I see comments I agree with voted high (or vice versa), but it's not as though they produce much in the way of useful data. It's just an anonymous like/dislike button.

            And I mostly use it judiciously, rewarding people who state their view well and with a minimum of unnecessary sniping. A couple of commenters don't get that level of consideration. Such is the nature of the game; there's nothing especially noble about any of us being here, we're here because we enjoy it (or, maybe in a couple of cases, because it's part of our job description).

          • In general there are two factors that go into a thumb: content and style. I'll wager that in your case the latter overrides the former. But you probably knew that already.

          • You're forgetting ideology, which ranks more highly for most commenters so far as I can tell.

          • I'm not really forgetting about ideology, I'm just not focusing on ideology. I am focusing more on the style that a person uses in their comments. As well, a person's ideology is fairly evident in the content of their comments.

            Dennis' ideology (as well as the ideology of many other participants) is fairly evident. Even while allowing that none of us probably fully understand all the nuances of his particular ideology, he clearly isn't the only person here with his ideology. And yet he fairly consistently gets thumbed down more than pretty well any other commenter; I'm confident that that difference is primarily due to his style.

          • Perhaps…..perhaps…

            I think that there is more to the story than just simple underestimation – is that even a word? – on the part of other commenters.

          • It's a real word.

          • And all this time I thought it was "misunderestimation".

          • Thumbs up for the George Bush quote

  23. I keep seeing the phrase 'election over this' – it's one of the more common tropes in Canadian politics. There's this thought that if the government falls on a vote over X, then there will be an election 'about X.' Canadian elections are far less predictable than that. The oppoisition could defeat the government over this detainee issue and it could be off the headlines by the second week of the campaign once Harper accidentally eats a cat on TV or Ignatieff's eyebrows revolt.

  24. We don't have an opposition because Canadians won't financially contribute to any party except the Tories. Harper had 10,000 of his banner flaunting anti-choice donors on the lawn of Parliament Hill today, and has 20,000 gun nuts willing to send him a cheque every second month by mail. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

    You get what you pay for.

    That's why we'll get Conservatives for a long, long time.

  25. The minute the parties negotiated on the basis that full disclosure would endanger national security, Harper won.

    Not by virtue of some tactical brilliance on the part of the CPC, but on the fact that the hyperpartisans on the left and their water carriers in the media, just couldn't resist the temptation of painting Harper's position as completely lacking any merit whatsoever.

    We were told there was zero merit to the notion that releasing everything may not be a good thing for the country (as we are told there is zero merit in everything Harper does – its all politically devious machinations…everything).

    Funny how the lily white, partisan free opposition is having to swallow their rhetoric as they carefully try to traverse the minefield, they previously told the public to walk freely upon as if it was an open playground.

  26. It never would have reached this point because the liberals would have recognized parliamentary supremacy without the need for a motion to cite them in contempt. They would have been up front about what happened and why.

    It is called being accountable. Harper would never do that.

    • Gayle, who are you trying to kid? Chretien had a majority and he still pulled all kinds of unaccountable nonsense, such as having the ethics commissioner report only to him, burying the Somalia inquiry, shrugging his shoulders at one significant scandal after another.

      But you really didn't address my point, which is that there is a significant cultural clash on the issue of detainee abuse allegations.

      • Chretien never said he was above parliament. That was Harper. You cannot divorce Harper's flouting basic democratic principles from the rest of the issue.

        But if your point is that liberals care about our international reputation, and human rights, and conservatives don't, well I can agree with that.

        • Gayle, you're clearly trying to engage in a partisan spitting match. Have fun. Next.

          • This comment is priceless.

          • and your response is typical, in a knee-jerk sort of way.

            Don't they teach reading and critical analysis in school these days? Or do people just let their emotions carry the day all the time?

          • "lol next" doesn't really lend itself to critical analysis.

          • Yeah, but what about the 99% of my posts that you fail to mention? Hey, if you stick to the facts as stated, then there's no need for the dismissive "next", is there. Gayle deserved it. You do, too, sometimes.

          • I apologize – I had no idea you'd been appointed to pass judgement on which comments were worthwhile and which failed to meet your sterling standard.

            From now on when you're dismissive and arrogant, I'll remind myself that you're all-knowing and the rest of us can only strive to be worthwhile of your attention.



          • My frustration and sarcasm aside, I really don't think it's helpful for you to mock people when – in your sole judgement – their comment doesn't meet your guidelines. Especially since I've seen you utterly miss the point at times.

            Stop writing as though you're smarter than everybody and you'll find people much more willing to engage in constructive debate.

            "Yeah, but what about the 99% of my posts that you fail to mention?"

            Did you give Gayle the benefit of the doubt you're asking of me?

          • I must say it really looks like you have no valid response to Gayle's post.

  27. This country is now officially PATHETIC. The government doesn't care whether it's adhering to the rule of law, so long as it scores some sort of microscopic tactical advantage that invariably melts away. There's no one to stop Harper because opposition members are competing with one another to see who can fall off the turnip truck the fastest. Ignatieff's cowardice is becoming the punch line of Canadian politics, and "showboat" Layton isn't much better. Supporting Harper are the "know nothing" troglodytes whose knuckles scrape across these forums – their empty patriotism and poisonous resentments are obvious to everyone.

    The people running this country are witless and without character. Not one of them has the vision and selflessness to do what the Brits have done in the past few days. Our political class stinks, but the real downer is that the country as a whole is responsible for these clowns, so Canada must be broken. What a sad realization for this once proud Canadian.

    • Be sure to send us a postcard from wherever you end up.

    • Agreed. This is as depressing as it gets.

      • Oh, it can`t be that bad here for you. I hear things are pretty gloomy in parts of Europe and I`m worried about the good ole USA. So cheer up and be thankful you are lucky enough to be Canadian.

  28. "Or will they, you should pardon the expression, man up?"

    Ladies, you gonna let Coyne get away with equating personal responsibility with the male gender? Haha, of course you will, he's a big government socialist and he's on board with the war crimes thing so he gets a free pass from you.

    Prediction: October 2012. Maclean's Managing Editor Meagan Hyphenated-Lastname fires Coyne for using capitalization and punctuation, both of which their style guide views as parochial and oppressive.

    • At what alien tea party is Andrew Coyne a "big government socialist?" Do you even know or care about the meaning of the words you use?

      • From a recent speech Andrew Coyne gave: "I'm actually not a conservative — either in name, or in any other way. If forced to describe myself, I'd say I'm a socialist, because by any usual or sensible definition, I would be.

        I favour public pensions, public health care, public education, public unemployment insurance. I favour a whole battery of things involving the state function. In fact, I've had tangles with some of my conservative friends over things like user fees for health care, or the necessity of carbon taxes to combat global warming."

        So to answer your question, it would be the alien tea party hosted by Maclean's editor and self described socialist Andrew Coyne.

  29. Things could get really interesting if the following scenario plays out:

    – The Conservatives stall, and refuse to turn over the documents. They are found in contempt.
    – An election is called, returning another Conservative minority government.
    – The new Parliament asks for the documents again.
    – Lather, rinse, repeat.

    The question then becomes: who will get blamed for the endless cycle of elections, if such a thing happens? Will the electorate grow tired of the Conservatives' shenanigans? Or will the Conservatives successfully persuade the electorate to give them a majority to end all this squabbling? (The latter is a bit like agreeing to sign over your lunch money in perpetuity to the schoolyard bully so that he will quit hassling you.)

  30. "So the question is, will the opposition allow themselves to be played in this way? Will they heed the voices telling them that this is not worth fighting an election over? Will they chicken out? "

    This is Michael Ignatieff that we are talking about. They will chicken out.

    • He's got to make a stand somewhere.
      Better too early than too late.

      Ahhhhhhhhh….. The Right Stuff ………..Do you know where MI could maybe borrow, or buy some? ;)

  31. The last time a selfless politician with vision came to the scene Canadians made fun of his accent and his loyalty to Canada was put in doubt because of his dual citizenship even though his ancestors settled in this country 400 years ago.

    • Not the first good man to become a casualty of war – it just wasn't meant to be

  32. Once again, Coyne outs himself for his anti-Conservative bias.

    Note, though, that he's previously outed himself as anti-Liberal, when they were in power. I tend to think he just hates everybody.