The task before them

Canwest surveys some of the options and precedents that could influence this week’s negotations—John Geddes has explored the sub-committee on organized crime, we explored various options here, and Sujit Choudhry has submitted one possible facet of a solution.

All that referenced, one should probably mind the complexity of this situation—or at least the potential thereof. Start, for instance, with the basic premise that a compromise will be based primarily on some committee of parliamentarians. Then consider the following.

How many members will comprise this committee? Which members? Can the parties nominate their own delegates or will all sides have to agree on the membership? Who will chair the committee? Who will decide the chair? Will the committee operate on consensus or a majority vote? Will the opposition, in keeping with party standings in the House, constitute a majority on the committee? How would the committee function during an election campaign? How, if at all, would the committee change in the event an election changed the party standings in the House or the status of the committee’s members?

What kind and amount of resources—in terms of money and staff—will the committee be provided? What, if any, timeline will the committee function under? How broad—in terms of timeline and subject matter—will the committee’s mandate be? What will be its defined purpose? What and who, specifically, will it be asked to investigate?

What standard of secrecy will be enforced? Will each MP be able to designate a member, or members, of their staff who will function under the same discretion? What will the committee ultimately be allowed to report? Who will decide what it can report? Will a third-party arbitrate any conflicts concerning what can be made public? If so, who will be the third-party? Will the government be given a chance to review any disclosures before they are made public? Will the committee be the sole judge of what constitutes the public interest and what constitutes national security? If so, again, will those decisions be based on the consensus or a majority vote of the committee?

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