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This actually happened


 

Still sorting out some thoughts in response to Mark Kingwell’s essay on political civility. In the meantime, here is the CP dispatch from yesterday’s meeting of the foreign affairs committee.

Suzanne Trepanier has requested permission to appear at the Foreign Affairs committee to defend her husband’s record and provide her version of events that she believes contributed to Beauregard’s fatal heart attack in January following an agency board meeting.

But Tory MP Jim Abbott’s hour-long filibuster Thursday ran out the clock on a committee decision, and Abbott made of point of reminding the committee chairman that he holds the floor when the group next meets. Abbott told the committee that hearing from Beauregard’s widow “would be an emotional reaction to a situation over which this committee has absolutely no control.”

According to the Toronto Star’s account, Abbott used the committee’s obviously precious time to discuss “CBC radio, bank regulations and the Export Development Canada.”


 

This actually happened

  1. Yes, how dare they not offer a vengeance-seeking widow an open mic for grief-fueled conspiracy theories.

    What possible information could she provide that would be helpful to the committee? Useful to appalling opposition narratives suggesting the government literally stressed him to death by (gasp) daring to appoint people he disagreed with to R&D, sure. Useful to the actual business of the committee or R&D, I doubt it.

    • The committee could have said no. Jim Abbot preferred not to let them have that chance.

      The filibuster is a despicable tactic and should be eliminated from democracy.

  2. Start the circus. What is the point of having Beauregard's widow testify? So she can repeat what he said to her in meetings she didn't attend, verbatim and unembellished (hearsay in other words)? So she can attest to the fact that he was under a lot of stress? What's next, hauling in his personal physician and questioning him at length about his medical record, diet and exercise regime, and consultations about high stress levels?

    Newton's Third Law of Motion: ''To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction"

  3. We always hear the crying victims of crime. Double Standard

    • assuming what? that she is a victim? No double standard here you're grasping at straws.

  4. Would having Trepanier testify actually provide the committee with any valuable information that they may use going forward? Maybe, maybe not. Would the committee have made the decision to allow her to testify? Maybe, maybe not.

    But we'll certainly never find out if the honourable member continues to filibuster. The filibustering is *actually* wasting the committee's time, as opposed to the motion and the prospect of potentially wasting time.

    Thinking about all the things that the foreign affairs committee has on its plate right now, which one is worse?

  5. What if paul Wells asks to testify? Should his request be put forward to committee for a vote? How about if you and I wanted to testify? Same thing? Surely there must be someone pre-screening these things – I presume it is one of the parties putting forward the requests.

    • No one has a right to meet. I believe each witness name must be put forward by the chair or by a member of the committee and then voted on.

      Or, in this case, not voted on because the Conservatives won't allow the vote.

      • So what is the probative value of her testimony? I believe she has already stated her objective is to rebut her husband's performance review. Is this the proper forum? Why not publish an op-ed in Macleans? Is she claiming wrongful death (or whatever it is called in Canada)? There are also legal forums available for that avenue.

  6. I'm not sure what she could add that could be reliable but I don't think it is inconsistent with past committee practices to allow individuals who are personally involved to speak at such meetings. I'm thinking for example of all the ancillary "witnesses" the Conservatives insisted should be allowed to speak on the Ruby Dhalla inquisition. The Liberals did not try to shut down those committees.

    Just because the focus is on controversial actions by the government and its appointees, I don't know why past practices would change.

  7. I do find it astonishing though how, at every turn, Conservatives block openness and accountability and transparency, and the functioning of duly congregated Parliamentary Committees. Here, they aren't even allowing a vote on whether she should be allowed to speak or not.

    Certainly she will add an emotional element to this at odds with the Conservative narrative. But that alone should not a reason to bar her or to try to shut down the committee's work. If she has even a little bit of additional information, we should hear it. If she doesn't, then the worst to have happened is she's wasted some time.

    Clearly, with all this fillibustering and preventing committees from doing their jobs, wasting time doesn't seem to bother the Conservatives though.

  8. Hmmm…..she has a right to defend her husband and why are the Harper bobbleheads afraid again?

    • The koolaid brigade sure were fast to put her down.
      For such posturing tough guys, the Cons sure are a cowardly lot. They need to smear and slander first before they let anyone talk, as per their usual MO. I guess it helps that they have no shame nor principles to anchor their words and actions.

  9. Maybe the Tories could've thought of this sort of nonsense when Tilson brought out the Filipino nannies to his Citizenship & Immigration Committee to help make sure everyone got the hate on for one Ruby Dhalla.

    I am no fan of this whole tax-dollar-leeching R&D "industry," not by a long shot. But boy do the Tories have this coming to them.

    • He should have received a medical exemption. If I had to spend any time in Conservative caucus I know I would need tequila, too.

  10. Aaron, does your headline refer to your incredulity at the filibuster or that the committee would have the gall to have a grieving widow vent her spleen with 3rd hand testimony?

  11. I think the members of parliamentary committees are smart enough to decide who should come and testify and the extent of the testimony. Remember Myriam Bédard.

    Who knows – Madame Trépanier could have witnessed something irregular – threatening phone calls at night, whatever. If not, the Committee can judge on pursuing their questioning or cutting it short.

  12. Well we don't know do we because she hasn't testified and the Conservatives are not even allowing the committee to vote on whether she should be invited or not.

    Who get's to decide who should testify at the committee? In a democracy, the committee. So let them vote.

    We live in a democracy afterall, much to the Conservatives' chagrin, clearly.

    • Clearly by her statements shortly after her husband's death she would be a prejudicial witness. And her probative value is questionable. Not everything should go to a committee vote. Common sense is required from all sides.

      • That is certainly your opinion, Dot. I have mine. But the committee should be able to decide for itself who speaks and who doesn't.

        We live in a democracy and in our Parliamentary democracy votes are important. You can't block democracy just because you don't like the expected result or think it would give the other side some advantage.

        If the Conservatives don't like the make up of our Parliament, it is always open for them to force an election to bring the issue to the people. If they aren't up for that, then start respecting Parliament and the people we elected to represent us in government.

        • My comments have more to do with political civility than any ideological bias. No one in their right mind is going to challenge anything a recently widowed and probably still grieving person will state. And no political party will publicly vote against her appearing. That does not mean that this is the appropriate forum. A written statement or affadavit enetered into the record will serve the same purpose, though the theatre and blogosphere will not be satiated.

          • Actually, though, the Conservatives are – or were, it seems Baird is saying they won't, but if you don't like a Conservative position, wait a minute – voting against her attending. As well as Joe Clark and Ed Broadbent and the former executive.

            I just fail to understand how this government – and let me be clear, I don't think this is a characteristic of conservatives or Conservatives generally, just this government – so continually work so hard to keep facts from coming to voters if they aren't controlling those facts.

            As for a written statement, frankly, that would be fine by me but worse for the Conservatives because they wouldn't be allowed to ask questions of her. It is in asking her questions about what she actually heard first hand that they could demonstrate what level of importance and weight her opinions have. That is how a committee is supposed to work

          • I just fail to understand how this government – and let me be clear, I don't think this is a characteristic of conservatives or Conservatives generally, just this government – so continually work so hard to keep facts from coming to voters if they aren't controlling those facts.

            There is nothing preventing her from speaking publicly, on the record, to any willing reporter, to be published anywhere, unless she needs some sort of slander/libel protection that may be afforded in any committee hearing.

  13. She will add nothing to the debate but apparently regurgitating material from the Export Development Corporation web site will?

    And, what's taking so long for the current ED and Board President for Rights and Democracy to show up? Wanna bet they show up with lawyers?

  14. Why not publish an op-ed in Macleans?

    I'd read it.

  15. Lost in all the debating over Trepanier is that the motion that Abbott was fillibustering covered more than just her. It also included the three recently fired managers: Marie-France Cloutier, Razmik Panossian and Charles Vallerand.

    I eagerly await the explanation as to why they also shouldn't be allowed to testify.

    • And apparently the prior President, Ed Broadbent. And the cabinet minister who set up Rights and Democracy, Joe Clark.

  16. Maybe I can be of assistance: The heading refers to the (irony or hypocrisy, take your pick) of refusing to hear from someone because "it will add nothing to the debate" and then using up committee time with a rambling fillibuster unrelated to any real issue at hand.

  17. Jim Abbott the pro-torture jerk is another Conservative coward.

    • More about pro-torture Jim Abbott:

      "…Abbott : "Dosanjh's question is irresponsible. Would you agree with me that the Geneva convention does not apply in Afghanistan because it is not a state-to-state conflict, and would you further agree you were worried that we could be or soldiers could be subject to laws under the Geneva convention. And considering that it doesn't apply, would you agree, why would you answer that irresponsible question with an irresponsible answer?

      Champ : "I would disagree with you that the Geneva convention does not apply to the armed conflict in Afghanistan."…"

      http://creekside1.blogspot.com/2010/03/inside-new

  18. Update.

    Apparently John Baird hopes "that all members of the committee can put aside partisan politics and work together…[so] that these disagreements can be resolved so that witnesses like Madame Trepanier may be heard".

    I take that as confirmation from Minister Baird that the Tory filibuster will not continue when the committee resumes.

    • How many flip flops is that this week now?

    • That, or Baird's head exploded.

  19. There was nothing stopping Finley from doing the same or waiting for his scheduled appointment with the Ethics Committee, but he and the Conservatives went screaming that it was censorship when he wasn't allowed to barg into a scheduled committee meeting and start testifying. (He never did show up for his appointed time.)

    There was nothing stopping David Mulroney from doing the same or waiting until an appointed time had been set up with the Special Committee on Afghanistan, but he and the Conservatives went screaming that it was censorship when he wasn't allowed to go first at a time of his choosing. He did show up though.

    The Conservatives only care about facts that they can control. They are systematically undermining the ability of government to do its job. The committee gets to decide who it will listen to. If the Conservatives don't like Parliament they can choose to dissolve it and try their luck at a new make-up.

    • The former was employed at the time by the CPC. The latter was employed as a diplomat by the Government. Not the same in terms of "control" of this potential witness.

  20. <SARCASM>Spouces testifying on behalf of their significant other is a great way to get unbiased and very useful information</SARCASM>

    • <SARCASM>That is such an intelligent statement!<SARCASM>

  21. Yet another case of Harper & Co. making their bad situation worse by throwing a hissy fit. It almost seems like their devious plan is to lose the next election by alienating the entire country.

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