Who's the boss?

Speaker's ruling on contempt charge will define relationship between House, PM

MPs in Ottawa are gearing up for a historic ruling. As early as Thursday, House Speaker Peter Milliken will decide whether or not Stephen Harper’s government is in contempt of Parliament, as the opposition parties allege. The claim concerns thousands of pages of heavily censored documents which likely reveal how much federal officials knew about Afghan detainee abuse – but which Conservatives refuse to release to Parliament. “It’s huge,” said Errol Mendes, law professor at the University of Ottawa. Mendes explained: “If the Speaker rules against the opposition motions, it would not be too hyperbolic to say that we have changed our system of governance [since] the executive would no longer be accountable to the House of Commons.” Even if Milliken rules against the Conservatives, however, it’s possible that the documents in question will remain under lock and key. Rather than remove the black ink, the Tories could simply force an election.

The Globe and Mail

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