Well, that was fast. - Macleans.ca

Well, that was fast.


I think those who expected the government to answer the Speaker’s ruling on the detainee documents with a Nixonian jihad must now start recalibrating. Can I appeal to fellow chattering-class types to start getting used to the way apparent reversals for the Conservatives turn very, very quickly into opportunities to divide and confuse the Opposition?

The ministry—whether you happen to think the Speaker chastised it with whips this week or felt it to be more of a scorpion-y kinda thing—doesn’t have to come up with a disclosure solution that satisfies every single parliamentarian on the Hill. To obtain majority support, the government only has to come up with something that the Liberals, en bloc, can agree to. The Conservatives’ bargaining chip is this: they can approach Michael Ignatieff and say “OK, we can get together on this and help you look like a responsible statesman; or, you can insist on the right of Gilles Duceppe and Libby Davies to be personally involved in the most intricate details of our military affairs, and we can go to the country and have an election on that basis.” Anyone who denies that this is a very strong poker hand hasn’t read the cards correctly. (I guess I understand the potential confusion: it might be easy to confuse the rights of Parliament with the personal political entitlement of Ms. Davies if you happen to think that she would, in fact, make a first-rate defence minister.)

Ignatieff is inevitably going to be criticized for “weakness” when the eventual modus vivendi, one likely to be comfortable for the Conservatives and marginally tolerable for the Liberals, is arrived at. When it comes to disputes over parliamentary procedure, I’m afraid Mr. Ignatieff is no more or less weak than his party’s standing in the House of Commons.


Well, that was fast.

  1. The conservatives are no longer operating in good faith. The other parties should devise a realistic procedure (which the government itself should have done in 2009 when the committee asked for the documents) and implement it without paying any attention to harper's preposterous charade.

    And I think a certain writer's gleeful hand wringing about CPC chances, based on the thin gruel in the linked article, are unbecoming for someone who pretends to objective writing.

  2. The only thing that's fast is how l'il Colby Cosh managed to come up with several hundred words so quickly after a soundbite that may mean nothing at all.

    Waaay to soon, although I do understand the standard of competition that rests one being the one to be able to say "see, I told you so" if things just happen to work out that way. If they don't, utter silence, of course.

  3. "The conservatives are no longer operating in good faith."

    Yeah, funny that. They seem to have learned from the best. eh? I suppose the Liberals would be right up front and "cooperative" on this file, should they have been on the hot seat, instead of the Conservatives, eh?

    Oh, look, I see pigs flying!

  4. And I think a certain writer's gleeful hand wringing about CPC chances

    Gleeful handwringing??? Isn't that an oxymoron? Also, I'm not sure how you read "joyful distress" into what Colby wrote.

  5. Don't be such a den mother. No one thinks they're writing poetry here,

    Except the hacks, of course.

  6. Good points. One of things that struck me about all this discussion is the characterization of the government and parliament as being separate entities, battling for supremacy over these papers. In fact, the will of the government is indistinguishable from the will of parliament (which is perfectly obvious when it is a majority government), and Harper simply has to get a majority of MPs to go along with the final compromise.

    On to the next great constitutional crisis…

  7. Never ceases to amaze me how some in the opposition, and their supporters, have such a great desire to overplay their hand against the Harper government. Isn't the "screw you and what you want" attitude precisely what your types keep chastising Harper for? It was a disaster with the coalition. It would be a disaster know, and it's one thing that Iggy seems to understand in his job.

  8. That's funny. I get chastised for even the slightest error on here, which of course is rare.

  9. Uh, I believe the Liberals ARE on the hot seat.

    A lot of those documents they want underacted are surely about them, and the myriad of ways they screwed things up too.

  10. Point well taken – gleeful hand-RUBBING was what I was aiming for.

  11. I used to think that, but if the balance of embarrassment went towards the Liberals, the documents would have been made PUBLIC – not just available – probably sometime in 2007.

    There's just no real reason for Harper to not do the right thing and give up the docs, and it's way past time. I'm not one to jump to conclusions, bur I really feel he has something to hide now.

  12. the will of the government is indistinguishable from the will of parliament

    Then, clearly, the will of the government is for Parliament to be given access to the documents, because that's how the recorded vote went down.

    Either that, or you're privileging the Crown's prerogatives over Parliament's and you just brushed aside over 150 years of responsible government in Canada in just 12 words, like it was nothing.

    I really wonder if Tory supporters actually believe what they're saying, or if it's simply that they just don't realize the implications of what they're saying.

    I never thought I'd write this, but, "Save us Preston Manning!!!"

  13. Heh. That's pretty cute coming from the guy who wrote this gem of an anal-retentive correction two weeks ago:

    MacLean's Regular (in response to a guy who wrote "ah donnn haf time for dis!"):

    "Haf?" Is Chrétien German now? If you're going to mock people's accents, get it right. It should be "'I doan 'ave time fer dis."

    That's poetry right there.

  14. "I used to think that, but if the balance of embarrassment went towards the Liberals, the documents would have been made PUBLIC – not just available – probably sometime in 2007."

    I doubt it. The Conservatives support the Afghan mission and wouldn't have wanted to release anything that would have painted the mission in a negative light in the run-up to a possible election.

  15. I think they would have found a way to put it as "The Liberals have committed war crimes and endangered our brave soldiers". As has become so painfully obvious, the truth no longer matters.

  16. I take personal offence when the accents of French Canadians are mocked in such an oafish, cartoonish fashion. Shades of minstrel shows for black people, I'm sure.

    Tell me, what personall offence did you find in that quantum particle of inelegant writing?

    • Except French speakers can eventually learn better. Your analogy breaks down pdq.

  17. What exactly happens if the opposition holds out? Don't we end up in an election then? It'll be interesting to see if the Conservatives choose the Liberals or the New Democrats as their dance partners now. I suspect Colby is right, and we will see the continuation of the Liberal-Conservative alliance on the Afghan war.

  18. Nice try, l'il Tiggy. You're such a sensitive fellow, after all. A unilingual anglophone who takes personal offence whenever people joke about Chretien's accent. The nineties must have been a tough decade for you.

  19. If the opposition holds out then parliament gets the documents. Harper doesn't have to hand them over presonally, I assumer a bailiff can just go the offices and grab the boxes. I hope we don't end up in a race to get them before the committee on one hand and actually ending parliament on the other, because that would make our country truly and absurdist joke.

  20. Should read: "Qu'est-ce QUI t'a donné l'impression que je suis un anglophone unilingue?"

    I have no idea how I got that crazy notion.

  21. Just because trolls are hungry, Crit…

  22. Je répète: Qu'est-ce QUI t'a donné l'impression que je suis un anglophone unilingue?

    Si tu veux m'accuser d'avoir inventé mon patrimoine pour…bien, des raisons qui m'échappent en ce moment…envoie fort. La seule chose que ça démontre c'est jusqu'à quel point t'es préparé à aller pour faire chier quelqu'un qui sait bel et bien comment te planter aussi souvent.

    Tu fais pitié, crapaud.

  23. If the opposition holds out then [P]arliament gets the documents.

    Not necessarily, especially if the government holds out even more. The government may decide to withstand the contempt charge(s), or run to Her Excellency for an urgent dissolution and appeal to the Canadian people in a general election.

    I am not betting that either of those alternatives will actually take place. But it seems to me those alternatives are, in fact, available.

  24. If we reach the point where Parliament wants to send bailiffs to "grab the boxes", I think any reasonable GG will agree we've reached the point where the Government no longer has the confidence of the House. At this point in the mandate, that will mean an election.

  25. The contempt charges will be aside from the actual "delivery up" of the documents so to speak. Unless the conservatives are burning shredding and hiding paper as we speak they can't actually prevent the terms of the order from being executed. And the dissolution part was what I was talking about as a "race".

  26. I actually doubt that, since getting the documents over Harper's formal protests would still merely be carrying out a motion effectively passed by parliament, and proroguing would prevent the execution of an order legitimately passed by parliament. Hopefully the governor general would grant a request by the other side to "please wait 20 minutes while I rush down the hall to the photocopier."

  27. You're so adorable, Tiggy. I'll give you a B+ for this one because you put a lot of effort into it, and you only made a few mistakes.

  28. Bingo! This going absolutely nowhere, the much vaunted Speaker's ruling notwithstanding.

    Libs must accept a weak compromise simply because they cannot expect to make near term electoral progress.

    The only twist I'd add to Mr Cosh's brilliant insight is that no matter what the "modus vivendi" (gotta love that Latin) arrived at, the Cons will violate the spirit, if not also the substance, of it over the summer as they ensure absolutely nothing is revealed prior to the next election.

  29. That does it, young man. You pull your hand out from the cage, drop the trollfeed in the garbage, and go wash your hands. We are leaving the zoo NOW…

  30. LOL!!!

  31. You are dead wrong Mike T.
    And further, if this was a Liberal MINORITY govt,
    we wouldn't even be here.
    No way the Cons would drive a stake in the heart of our troops just to score 'cultrue of deceit' points against the Libs.
    If you look back, it was the Dippers and the Bloc that raked Liberals over the coals right from the start of this war, not the Cons.

  32. Mike T, just whose side are you on anyway? Order or Chaos?

  33. So–this the same week the CBC is defending itself from charges of political bias. I thought Colby led a more examined life than this, but then at the NP he pretty much confined himself to playing the role of learned amateur on divers subjects and occasional sports analyst. You can take the boy out of Alberta Report, but . . . .

  34. A unilingual anglophone who takes personal offence whenever people joke about Chretien's accent.

    T'es-tu fou, toi? Qu'est-ce t'a donné l'impression que je suis un anglophone unilingue?

    You disappoint me. I thought your record-keeping on me was more thorough than that.

  35. You can dish it out, Tiggy. Too bad you can't take it.

  36. … doesn't mean I have to feed them. I know, I know. I just can't help it sometimes with our old friend Tiggy, especially when he's begging for it. ;-)

  37. I said that's ENOUGH! Not a peep out of you till we get home, do you understand?

  38. That's right. There's only one den mother around here and that this guy.

    Check yourself, crapaud.

  39. OK, then, Bailiff Mike, just which "offices" will you know to visit to "grab the boxes"?

    Without government cooperation, or a whistle-blower from the inside, this collection of documents isn't going anywhere.

  40. I quite fancy my chances agin you CC, and i'm no kind of hand at poker. Why should MI give up a potential winning hand for a fleeting opportunity to look statesman like? Particularly when you consider by so doing he lets Harper look like he was right all along to withold the docs, earns the enmity of the rest of the opposition [ whose goodwill he may one day need if he ever hopes to pull Harper down, no matter how much he abdures the coaltion.] , and get's to look utterly craven and opportunistic into the bargain. And for what? A fleeting bump in the polls and a get out of gaol free card for Harper? When your opponent is reeling from an unexpected sucker punch from the referee, you don't agree to let him back up on his feet cuz he tells you he wont try so hard after this if you back off a bit – maybe agrees to call it a tie until next time. Don't take the short term gain MI. Whatever lifeline they offer you is also sure to have SH dangling on the end of it too.

  41. Or, to re-hash an old line, "the Prime Minister is playing chess and his opponents are playing checkers." ps I ran into a WP story from Tuesday…"Obama Administration defies Congressional Subpoena". You would think that those Canadian news outfits that invest heavily in DC news bureaus would expect their reporters to read DC's "paper of record". Given the symmetry of the two issues constitutionaly and the big Owe's high approval ratings up here, one would think it is "news".

  42. I don't see that as a problem. I think the employees in the relevant offices would comply with the order.