'Disregarding its powers and authority' - Macleans.ca

‘Disregarding its powers and authority’


The Parliamentary Law Clerk responds to the Justice Department’s response.


‘Disregarding its powers and authority’

  1. It seems to me that the MPCC was established for this very purpose: to provide accountability, but protect soldiers and our national interest from potentially harmful disclosure. They are part of the military with special clearance to view precisely this kind of information for precisely this purpose.

    And yet, the Conservatives have attempted just as much stonewalling, witness silencing, story changing, document withholding, document redacting and covering up with the MPCC as they have with the Parliamentary Committee. In fact, the Parliamentary Committee only got involved because of the Conservatives attempt to cover up and escape any accountability.

    So to now claim it is all about "national interest" and "security" completely ignores how we got here in the first place!!

  2. This started off as a pretty serious issue of war, and international law, and torture, and civilian command (some might say "miscommand") of the military etc…

    Who would have thought that it could possibly ESCALATE to involve the possibility of the government actually bringing in to question the very nature of responsible government in Canada. Forget the government's views on international law, the proper conduct of war, the nature and importance of human rights… I'm beginning to wonder if this government believes in the supremacy of Parliament.

    • Beginning? Clearly, they do not. We have a law opinion to prove it.

      The Conservatives and their games. They take a disappointing minority and turn it into a national unity crisis, then take an embarrassing mistake and turn it into a constitutional crisis. I can't think they learn quickly.

    • In an odd way, it's like the whole fiscal update business from last year.

      Instead of acting reasonably, Harper escalated, the opposition upped the escalation, and then Harper turned a stupid fiscal update into a national unity and constitutional crisis.

      It is this very scorched earth policy on everything that makes me so deeply angry with Harper. I disagreed with him in 2006 but thought it was probably a good thing for a change. But in the interest of getting and keeping power, he is causing some serious longterm damage to Canadian governance and law.

  3. Should have stopped that post one word earlier Jenn.

  4. Not that I'm not enjoying this game of lawyer tennis – because I am – could someone tell me what the process is to resolve this? Who's the Chair Umpire here?

    • The Speaker in the final instance, I believe.

      • No doubt, Harper will just ignore Miliken anyway.

        • The Soeaker has the authority to dispatch the Sergeant-At-Arms of the House and theoretically other federal bodies to help enforce compliance. I've heard 1 Liberal tell me that might involve the RCMP raiding DFAIT/DND etc.. we'll have to wait and see though.

          • I'll bet my mortgage on that not happening, since the RCMP gets its legal advice from the Department of Justice, but everyone has to have a dream, I suppose.

          • A typical answer from a Con parrot;

            In this case, Parliament's authority is supreme, not Harper's cronies from the Dept of Justice.

          • Ad Hominem attacks,

            Carolyn Kobernick a conservative crony?


            Well, if that is the best you can do….

          • So the Department of Justice has gone from being part of the "Liberal Civil Service" to be "Harper's Cronies" in a few short years…



    • "Parliament does not possess the authority to determine the limits of its own privileges; these are part of the Constitution of Canada, and therefore the courts have the jurisdiction to determine the existence and scope of any claimed privilege. In doing so, their guiding principle has traditionally been the protection of parliamentary autonomy from the courts and the Executive. The primary question asked by the courts is whether the claimed privilege is necessary for the House of Commons and its Members to carry out their parliamentary functions of deliberating, legislating and holding the Government to account, without interference from those outside of Parliament.

      Once a category of privilege is determined to exist and its scope is ascertained, the exercise of parliamentary privilege, including any decision or action taken within the privileged category, cannot be reviewed by the courts."


      • And, if I'm not mistaken, our current discussion surrounds an aspect of parliamentary privilege that the courts have already ruled is beyond their purview. It's pretty hard to argue that the ability of a parliamentary committee to compel testimony and the production of documents is not "necessary for the House of Commons and its Members to carry out their parliamentary functions of deliberating, legislating and holding the Government to account".

        • Except where doing so would contravene laws in place to protect national security…

          No, the Courts have not ruled on this specific question, which is why DoJ and the Parliamentary Law Clerk disagree.

          • Do you really believe them when they say it is a matter of national security?

            Why would they have withheld and redacted the information from the MPCC then?

            The only reason the Parliamentary Committee has had to get involved is because of Harper's attempts to stonewall the MPCC and prevent witnesses from speaking and withholding of documents.

  5. Shorter version:

    Department of Justice is bound by the rule of law too, so back off you lugens.