The Liberals have the day tomorrow to put a motion before the House of Commons. Here is what they will be asking the House to consider.
That the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics be instructed to examine the conduct of the Prime Minister’s Office regarding the repayment of Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses; that the Prime Minister be ordered to appear under oath as a witness before the Committee for a period of 3 hours, before December 10, 2013; and that the proceedings be televised.
This at least puts the Conservatives in the position of having to explain why Mr. Harper shouldn’t testify before a committee. Conservatives who might find the idea somehow ridiculous might be asked to explain why it would be any more ridiculous than say this. Keith Beardsley, on the other hand, has cautioned that Justin Trudeau is setting an interesting precedent in wanting to see a Prime Minister testify under oath.
There is, of course, Question Period. And, though Mr. Harper appeared before a Senate committee to discuss Senate reform in 2006, prime ministerial appearances before parliamentary committees would seem to be relatively rare (I’ve asked the parliamentary library to see if there is any official record of prime ministerial appearances at committee).
On the other hand, there is, as was pointed out to me this evening, what has become something of a tradition in Britain. Since Tony Blair agreed to do so in 2002, the British prime minister has appeared twice annually before the Mother Parliament’s liaison committee. Here, for instance, is David Cameron’s most recent appearance.