Conservatives recruit top bureaucrats to aid in contempt hearings

Committee will rule whether Harper government is in contempt of Parliament

The Harper government has enlisted 10 bureaucrats to aid Conservative ministers testifying at the House affairs committee, which will rule on whether it is in contempt of Parliament. The House affairs committee will deliberate over whether the Tories violated parliamentary rules by refusing to disclose the costs of their law-and-order legislation, and by allowing Bev Oda to mislead parliament over funding cuts to Kairos, an international aid group. The committee hearing is a result of Speaker Peter Milliken’s ruling last week that found the government had misled the House “on its face.” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson will testify at the committee, but the Conservatives have also drafted top bureaucrats from the Canadian Border Services Agency, CSIS, Correctional Service of Canada, the departments of Justice and Public Safety, the National Parole Board, public prosecutions and the RCMP. Critics say the presence of the bureaucrats is an attempt to frustrate the work of the committee, which is expected to rule that the Tories are in contempt. Liberal MP Scott Brison called the move a photo-op. “Effectively the civil servants are being brought as wallpaper or a backdrop for Harper’s refusal to come clean with Parliament.” If the Tories are found in contempt of parliament, the Liberals may make a motion of non-confidence as early as March 25, which could result in an election being called.

Globe and Mail

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.