The Grand Inquest of the Nation - Macleans.ca
 

The Grand Inquest of the Nation


 

We’ll see how the speaker rules — and how the parties vote, if it comes to that — but this is a great day in the history of Parliament. Three members — Lee, Harris and Bachand — have stood up for Parliament’s ancient powers and privileges. Now it’s up to the rest of them to do the same.


 

The Grand Inquest of the Nation

  1. Amen.

    • Isn't that our line?

      • LOL … Yes, but we are divinely inspired to say it, so it's as if God were saying it anyway …

        • What! You believe in pre-determination? What century do you think this is? :)

  2. The ruling of the Speaker is of historical importance.
    Choose wisely Mr Milliken, the judgement of history awaits.

    • When will we know, do you know danby? Gawd, I hope something finally puts this fiasco in its place!

  3. This is a complete hoot .. way to go Lee … I can't wait to watch Harper play whackamole with the next one to pop up! … I love Bob Rae's response as he praises Lee's outstanding leadership then hires a kid to trip him when the bus pulls up to the curve – then we have the BLOQ all for it – Hurrah! imagine a BLOQ rep culling the unrredacted doc's searching on the terms liberal and quebec = ROFL! .. I wonder maybe we will be off the Supreme Court at the end of all of this – what a great day for a little excitement of course how much you want to bet that the Liberals would prorogue a few MP's again should a vote come up that is a confidence motion – LMAO!

    • Please: lay off the coffee before posting comments here.

      • I sense hysteric anxiety with psiclone's response.

        • Yeah, he's totally losing it. Grim days ahead for the con-bots.

      • I'd say crack, not coffee, but yeah.

      • Yes his arse is callused
        and his floors so very clean,
        but when the men in white coats come to call
        they won't buy "it's the caffeine"

    • ROFL is the Bloc standing up for Canada's Parliament when not a single Conservative will.

    • And learn to spell Bloc

    • What?

  4. “Society must take every means at its disposal to defend itself against the emergence of a parallel power which defies the elected power”

    Anyone?

    • Try not to forget that said elected power is ignoring constitutional conventions and standing orders by not regognizing the supremacy of parliament.

  5. Trudeau during the October crisis. I remember it well – I was living in Ottawa at the time, and armed soldiers on the Hill was the scariest thing I had ever seen….

    • And I was working at NATO HQ at the time. All my NATO friends from various countries were aghast as they thought Canada was just such a peaceful country.

    • …and I was working in the East Block. Trudeau was right at the time, but that does not automatically make the Liberals right this time..

  6. What a great day for Canada! Well done, Loyal Opposition. Incumbent on the rest of us to make sure this process does not falter.

  7. There is another possibility. If the Gov. General has the power and courage to ask the opposition to form a government, we could get the coalition finally. This means no expensive election for the time being, until one is supposed to happen according to the law that Harper broke to hold the last one.

    • I can't really conceive how you can go from finding some ministers in contempt to toppling a government. The only way that I can see the GG getting involved is if the Opposition topples the government. The GG's role in this particular situation is limited, if not outright non-existence. I suppose, if we're pushing things to remote possibilities, she could dismiss those ministers, though it's hard to conceive of the GG using the Royal Prerogative so directly without deferring to the wishes of the Prime Minister (who, I think it's reasonable to assume, would not be in favor of removal of those Ministers).

      One does hope, perhaps vainly, that the Prime Ministers and the aforementioned Ministers will back down rather than push this further into uncharted waters, but if one thing has become clear about Stephen Harper, he definitely has no problems going where angels fear to tread.

    • And said coalition would then be slaughtered in the next election.

      • But wouldn't the CPC brand be tarnished by their failed assault on Parliament? What would happen if the Tim Horton's crowd decided Mr Harper had no regard for democracy? Wouldn't that greatly weaken party support, siphoning off votes?
        Who would be headed to the slaughterhouse?

  8. Are you crazy? Do you really believe that the GG would ask the "coalition" to form a government. On what grounds? Constitutional convention is clear. If the opposition parties defeat the government, the GG will accept the advice of her first minister.

    • You are right with everything, but this isn't a question of the opposition parties defeating the government. The opposition parties are holding members of the government in contempt–it is not the same thing.

      • exactly. and it should it not be made into a matter of confidence. to do so would be to once again obfuscate and impede the will of parliament.

      • Oh, I get it. You don't want the opposition to vote non confidence in the government of the day. You just want the GG to tell a government that still has the confidence of the House that it no longer has the right to remain in power?

        Good luck.

        Any GG that was that bone-headed would create such a constitutional crisi that our system of government would collapse.

        • Is this replying to me? When on earth did I say I expected GG to tell the government it couldn't stay in power?

          I totally agree with you; that would be a bone-headed GG. And even if Harper went to her to say he no longer had the confidence of the House (even though he does), I can't imagine any reason why she would ask for a coalition of the other parties. That is never her call. Her only option other than calling an election would be to ask the Leader of the Opposition if he could hold the support of the House. It is up to said leader whether he could form a coalition, govern without one, whatever. And there isn't a single reason she would do that now, anyway. We haven't had an election in more than a year.

          • The arrows got confused. I was primarily responding to Grey Knight a few posts up.

            GK had said: …"There is another possibility. If the Gov. General has the power and courage to ask the opposition to form a government, we could get the coalition finally. This means no expensive election for the time being…"

            Your comment seemed to endorse GK's view and suggest that somehow that GG would react to a motion of contempt in the same way as a motion of non confidence but I see now that this was not your view. Sorry for the confusion.

          • No worries, TwoYen.

            I do get my back up about ascribing more power to the GG than she has, though, because of the amount of time I've spent in 1838 trying to limit GGs power. I willingly admit I'm touchy on the subject.

  9. "I wonder maybe we will be off the Supreme Court at the end of all of this – what a great day for a little excitement of course how much you want to bet that the Liberals would prorogue a few MP's again should a vote come up that is a confidence motion – LMAO!"

    So which is it? Off to the SC, or a vote of confidence?

    • do you think before you post – don't reply becuase I have a script that automagically deletes nonsense

      • Kudos to you Wayne for catching that…you did put in enough qualifiers for it to be either or, my bad. I would point out however that your automagic nonsense deleter doesn't seem to be self directed.

      • Your script isn't working..
        ..you're still posting.

      • get help.

    • First of all, I nominate that we name these fine MPs the Three Pyms, in honor of that greatest of all Parliamentarians! I just thought I'd get that off my shoulders.

      On to the substance of it, though. If the Speaker does indeed rule that MacKay, Cannon and Nicholson did violate Parliamentary privilege, what can the Government possibly do? To deny the authority of the Speaker seems impossible to me. I mean, we all like to jibe the Tories about Charles I and such, but seriously, this would raise the issue to somewhere in the same neighborhood as Charles I's petulant attempt to run things on his own.

      It's unfortunate that this has come to this point. What's even more unfortunate, to my mind, is that so few Canadians seem aware of just how important this fight is. This is the first time since Government began eroding Parliament's powers that someone has stood up and said "No, we're your boss, not the other way around." The problem here is that while the Three Pyms have the nerve, will the Opposition Parties share in in that fervor, or will they continue to need to justify everything by opinion poll.

  10. This is exactly what Stephen Harper wants..today in question period he also mentioned the withdrawing of federal funds for political parties. I have no doubt he wants an election caused by the opposition so that he can finally get a majority, or leave altogether.
    S. Harper is a smart man, and I believe he ha come to the conclusion that it is all or nothing for him, either majority or obscurity…

    • Again, this wouldn't be an election caused by the opposition. Holding the govenment in contemp is not the same as defeating the government. They are two separate things.

      • Would voters make the difference once the attack ads start?

        • Well, of course they would. The one sends them to the polls. The other does not.

        • Are Canadians tiring of attack ads and beginning to question the values behind their (over)use?
          It would seem they've certainly had enough of abusive ten percenters. Could attitudes be shifting?

      • But Jenn, don't you think Harper is willing to campaign on this issue? Opposition pushes, Speaker agrees and cites contempt (or whatever the parliamentary term is), Harper calls an election to "take this to the people." Mccluth's "all or nothing" suggestion seems to be bang on, here.

        • Harper certainly could do that, but I think it would be somewhat reckless to make an election issue on these documents. Not that Harper hasn't demonstrated recklessness before, and somehow managed to avoid complete disaster, but I think relying on polling agencies to indicate the strength of your position is eventually going to catch up with you.

          I sympathize with the Opposition to the degree that the three leaders clearly are not as willing to battle an election on something as dusty and old-fashioned as Parliamentary rights. It isn't really all that sexy as compared to, say, extending EI benefits to giraffes. What's more, just because the MPs in question are wrothy of the name the Three Pyms doesn't mean the leaders are. How willing would Iggy be to give in to Parliament if it was he who was on the ropes over this. After all, the shrinking of Parliament's role didn't begin with Harper, but with Liberal Prime Ministers, in particular Trudeau, who I'd say was our very first Presidential PM.

  11. Yeah! Let's release documents that reveal state secrets of our allies!! That will improve our standing with our friends and improve our national security!!

    • First of all, no one has said that the documents be released publicly. Parliamentary committees, when dealing with sensitive data, can do so behind closed doors. So your post is BS on the face of it.

      Secondly, in a way, it's irrelevant. Parliament commands government, not the other way around. If government can do things without fear that Parliament can, at its will, review what government has done, then our system, which has stood since the 17th century, is all but dead and gone. I even agree that there's a note of irresponsibility in this whole fight, but like it or not, Parliament is supreme, not Government. Our system does not afford any right to government to withhold any information that it has at its disposal.

      • It is astonishing how poorly "civics" has been taught in this country. Parliament does not "command" government, it is the Monarch who "commands." The Prime Minister is the advisor of the Monarch, as represented by the GG, and is appointed/dismissed on her/his say so. To be PM he/she must advise the GG that he/she commands the confidence of the House (remember the PM is not elected directly). The PM does not summon/dismiss/prorogue Parliament, that is the prerogative of the Crown. The PM can only advise, but tradition dictates that the Crown can never disregard the advice of PM when given.

        Under our system, the Crown is subject to the law unless exempted by legislation (see for example Crown Immunities Act). Similarly, members of the House are subject to the law, unless exempted by legislation.

        The Canada Evidence Act does not expressly exempt members of the House of Commons from the prohibition against release of sensitive information under section 38. Unless Parliament changes the Act, which it can do, the claim of the existence of parliamentary privilege does not "immunize" it from the ordinary law of the law except in very specific circumstances determined by the Courts, not the Speaker (see House of Commons v. Vaid – SCC case from 2005).

        It is unlikely that the Speaker will rule that there has been contempt – because if he does and the matter goes to Court, Parliament will lose.

        I am hoping that there is a lawyer at MacLean's that our host can consult.

  12. If the Speaker finds there is a case of breach of privilege the opposition motions will be brought forward in the House. I suspect since the BLOC and NDP have already colluded they will present a single motion and the Liberal will present theirs separately. The Liberal motion has portions which are different then the BLOC/NDP motion. Both motions will be voted on in the House. I further suspect the Government will consider these votes to be confidence matters. Passing the motions will result in the Government being defeated.

    The Governor General will ultimately call an election as enough time has passed since the last one (>year). There will be no coalition. If the motion passes expect a spring election late April to early May.

    • I think you're right, but does the government get the option of placing a confidence vote on a motion from the opposition? I'm talking technicalities because whether they can or not I expect the result will be as you've said.

      • Jenn_
        Matters of confidence fall under the 'Confidence Convention'. I've attached as reference URL for you to look through. It is too long to reprint here.

        http://www2.parl.gc.ca/MarleauMontpetit/DocumentV

        Basically the government can declare any motion put to the vote a confidence matter.

        • Thanks a lot! This is very helpful. Off to read it now.

  13. All of this is reasonably confusing to me. Can someone break this down for me, kind of like the Coles Notes of the Grand Inquest of the Nation? From what I can figure out, some NDP, Bloc and Liberal people are saying that the Conservatives have broken some parliamentary rules, and the Speaker needs to rule on who is correct? And why the references to Bob Rae throwing Lee under a bus? I take it that the Liberals in general don't want to rock the boat on this matter. Why is that?

    thanks

  14. "Whenever I despair, I remember that the ways of truth and reality have always won. There may be clowns like Mulroney and Harper, and for a time, they may seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it: always.