Milliken Does the Right Thing

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Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture
Milliken Does the Right Thing

The Speaker has reaffirmed the supremacy of Parliament over the government of the day. He has wisely allowed 2 more weeks for the government to comply in a manner which is satisfactory to the House of Commons, but he left no doubt that comply it must. Three cheers.

 

Politics101

You don't state on what matter he was ruling - it was regarding the release of the Aghan detainees files.

It was interesting to note how he responded to the criticism  that MP's couldn't be trusted to not divulge such information - he called those people out. I only catch part of it on CTV newsnet as I walking through a mall - he basically told all parties - reach an agreement in two weeks or I will reach one for you.

Any one hear or see the government response - will Harper try and make this an manner of confidence?

 

NorthReport

Harper at 29% doesn't dare call and election, and when the details are released from these documents he has been hiding, he will have wished he hadda called an election. Harper is screwed big time by this ruling!

skdadl

Gosh. And we didn't even have to behead anyone. This time. Yet.   Wink

 

Many yays! I'm sure there's more to unfold as it will or will not, should or should not, but let's hope. For a few minutes.

Augustus

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson just spoke to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons.

As Nicholson explained, the Government will do what is in the best interests of Canadian soldiers and national security.

Stockholm

What a liar, we all know that Nicholson doesn't give a fuck about national security or the fate of canadian soldiers - all the Tories care about is what's in the political interests of the Conservative Party.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I just saw the Minister of Justice, Mr. Nicholson, read a prepared statement in which he seemed to either ignore or reject the substance of the Speaker's ruling. In particular, he stated that the ruling had recognized that the government could withhold documents if there were legal reasons for so doing. The Speaker made it very clear that he rejects that theory. He ruled that while there may be valid reasons for the government to withhold documents, the validity of such reasons can only be determined by parliament itself. He also stated clearly that parliament is not bound by any previously passed laws in making such a determination. I have a feeling that Harper and his gang intend to brazen it out, and continue to claim that they have the power to decide what they will and will not reveal.

On another point, I keep hearing pundits suggest that this matter could be referred to the Supreme Court. I was once a lawyer, but that was many years ago. It seems quite clear to me that the court has no place in this dispute, and would most likely say exactly that if asked, but I would be very happy to have the opinion of any currently practicing lawyers about this question.

 

Unionist

Harper has never lost a skirmish yet. He can normally rely on the opposition to either fold or divide. I'll be very shocked (though thrilled) if he ends up being hurt this time.

Joey Ramone

NorthReport wrote:

Harper at 29% doesn't dare call and election, and when the details are released from these documents he has been hiding, he will have wished he hadda called an election. Harper is screwed big time by this ruling!

I wish that were true, but Harper's got a lot more guts than her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and less fear of an election.  It will take another vote in Parliament to enforce the Speaker's ruling.  If Harper decides to make it a confidence vote, which would trigger an election, the cowardly opposition will almost certainly cave, as they have on everything else.

Augustus

Joey Ramone wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

Harper at 29% doesn't dare call and election, and when the details are released from these documents he has been hiding, he will have wished he hadda called an election. Harper is screwed big time by this ruling!

I wish that were true, but Harper's got a lot more guts than her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and less fear of an election.  It will take another vote in Parliament to enforce the Speaker's ruling.  If Harper decides to make it a confidence vote, which would trigger an election, the cowardly opposition will almost certainly cave, as they have on everything else.

I think you're right.  Harper still towers over the other parties, even though he is not at his best in the polls right now.

If the Liberals had a strong leader like Trudeau or Chretien, maybe they would have the guts to take him on, but Ignatieff has been a wimp so far.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Joey Ramone wrote:

I wish that were true, but Harper's got a lot more guts than her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and less fear of an election.  It will take another vote in Parliament to enforce the Speaker's ruling.  If Harper decides to make it a confidence vote, which would trigger an election, the cowardly opposition will almost certainly cave, as they have on everything else.

You may be right, but I have some hope that the fundamental importance of the issue involved in this case might stiffen the spines of the Liberals. It really is the case that Canadian democracy will be seriously undermined, perhaps even fatally, if the intransigence of the Harperites is allowed to stand. I also think that the voters who are not part of the Tory hard core base can be brought to an understanding of the importance of the issue. Then again, perhaps I am just an idealistic old fool.

 

Stockholm

The "opposition" won't "cave". It is possible that the Liberal party will cave once again, but I suspect that the NDP and BQ will take no hostages in this dispute. Why would they - both parties would gain seats if an election were held now.

Unionist

Who cares about the NDP, the BQ, or the Liberals and their election fortunes. The supremacy of the legislative branch is bigger than their selfish aims. I said the opposition would fold or divide. I stand by that prediction until further notice.

 

Augustus

Stockholm wrote:

The "opposition" won't "cave". It is possible that the Liberal party will cave once again, but I suspect that the NDP and BQ will take no hostages in this dispute. Why would they - both parties would gain seats if an election were held now.

That is supposition.

Stockholm

Virtually everything we ever discuss here is "supposition". Anyways, the NDP cannot control whether the Liberals "cave" or not. But right now, i think Harper will cave because he has more to lose in an election than any of the opposition parties do.

Unionist

Harper is far more principled than any of the other leaders. Just watch him.

 

mahmud

Oliver North-ites have 2 weeks to do their job. Documents lost. Could not be retrieved. Prove that they were shredded!!!

Augustus

Stockholm wrote:

Virtually everything we ever discuss here is "supposition". Anyways, the NDP cannot control whether the Liberals "cave" or not. But right now, i think Harper will cave because he has more to lose in an election than any of the opposition parties do.

You may be right.

With the polls the way they are right now, the Conservatives could lose some seats - particularly close ones in Ontario that they only won by a few votes, like the Kitchener seats and the Mississauga seat.

I think the NDP and the Liberals have the ability to win a few new seats, although I maintain that the BQ is unlikely to win anything much.  Almost all the Conservative seats in QC are fairly solid, with the possible exception of Sylvie Boucher's seat.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The only polls that count are those on election day. The Cons likely have internal polling that show them doing better than EKOS and others predict, and that's why the Cons are probably not afraid of an election right now.

George Victor

Principles have nothing to do with the principal accumulating in the war chest.  Anyone with the money knows they can win. Does great things for the spine in  the capitalist world. Maybe the abject subjects will cotton to that someday.

Doug

Michael Moriarity wrote:

On another point, I keep hearing pundits suggest that this matter could be referred to the Supreme Court. I was once a lawyer, but that was many years ago. It seems quite clear to me that the court has no place in this dispute, and would most likely say exactly that if asked, but I would be very happy to have the opinion of any currently practicing lawyers about this question.

 

Probably, but it would take time for it to do so.

Politics101

"Probably, but it would take time for it to do so."

Which is precisely what the Cons may want - if it's before the courts for a prolong period of time - they could call an election - regrettably get a majority and then totally ignore what the court decides - even if a another Cons minority some or all of the opposition parties might be into leadership contests and the issue will be pushed back even further and by then I am sure that all important documents will have disappeared or be accidently shredded - does any one know if the speaker has the power to embargo the documents under his office.

KenS

Dont get too deep into the hand wringing. The Conservatives are not withing reach of majority territory. Have only been briefly on the cusp for a couple times before people remember their reservations about Harper and company.

Not to say that dynamic goes on infinitely. But they haven't broken out of that yet- and hiding behind 'the soldiers' and 'security' will only be good enough for the base. I'm sure they'll try again to set up the winning conditions. But their last two attempts have been outright failures. So its beyond premature to say they will get a majority. 

Nor is there any certainty at all that even with a clear plurality of seats they will get even another ["only"] a minority government.

NorthReport

The Conservatives are trending down right now, and if things continue they way they have been, Harper's Cons could well end down in Dion territory with the Ignatieff's Libs.  Laughing

Augustus

NorthReport wrote:

The Conservatives are trending down right now, and if things continue they way they have been, Harper's Cons could well end down in Dion territory with the Ignatieff's Libs.  Laughing

And the NDP is below both of them.  Laughing

Draco

Michael Moriarity wrote:

You may be right, but I have some hope that the fundamental importance of the issue involved in this case might stiffen the spines of the Liberals. It really is the case that Canadian democracy will be seriously undermined, perhaps even fatally, if the intransigence of the Harperites is allowed to stand. I also think that the voters who are not part of the Tory hard core base can be brought to an understanding of the importance of the issue.

That could have applied word-for-word to the first confidence motion after the first prorogation.  Dissolving Parliament to avoid a confidence motion was a pretty brutal assault on Parliamentary democracy, yet the Liberals backed down from holding the government to account.

It will be interesting who wins the spin cycle on this one: "We need to protect our soldiers from the opposition MPs who want to get them killed" seems like it could alienate more support than it would win.  Then again, a lot of the coverage talks about releasing the documents as if they were tossing them to the winds, rather than giving access to elected reprentatives on a House Committee under secure settings.

 

Draco

Augustus wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

The Conservatives are trending down right now, and if things continue they way they have been, Harper's Cons could well end down in Dion territory with the Ignatieff's Libs.  Laughing

And the NDP is below both of them.  Laughing

It still has to add up to 100 somehow. :)

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Draco wrote:

That could have applied word-for-word to the first confidence motion after the first prorogation.  Dissolving Parliament to avoid a confidence motion was a pretty brutal assault on Parliamentary democracy, yet the Liberals backed down from holding the government to account.

I was pretty disappointed by that too, but I don't think it was the same magnitude of issue. It was the cynical abuse of an accepted part of our parliamentary procedure. In this case, there is no precedent whatsoever, and not even a legal fig leaf. It is plainly and simply an outright denial of the supremacy of parliament over the government of the day. If it is allowed to become an accepted principle of governance, the long trend towards an elected dictatorship, which started with Trudeau, and has been progressing ever since, will be complete. The house of commons will be nothing more than a rather unruly debating society.

 

RedRover

Augustus wrote:

NorthReport wrote:

The Conservatives are trending down right now, and if things continue they way they have been, Harper's Cons could well end down in Dion territory with the Ignatieff's Libs.  Laughing

And the NDP is below both of them.  Laughing

Not if (big if) Decima's trend continues for two more weeks.

Eventually an issue will break the electoral camel's back.  If it is a trust/transparency/accountability type issue, then the NDP will gain, Liberals will stall (can anyone say they would be better???), and Cons will definitely tumble in BC and Ontario in particular.

Interestring dynamic on the trust/transparency/accountability front.

NorthReport

Unfortunately the gutless Liberals will cave in to Harper once again, and we will continue this rightward drift ad nauseum.

 

 Futures market

 

 So he will stonewall. He would rather fight an election on this question than concede. So far he has had some success at winning or avoiding elections. Every time the prospect of an election has increased sharply over the past four years, the Conservative poll advantage has increased. A few days' brinksmanship is usually all it takes to put SNAP ELECTION? into a front-page Globe headline, and a distracted electorate starts to engage and polarize, and the Conservatives start to climb in the polls to the Liberals' disadvantage. I think Harper's reading of his interests will lead him to work hard to recreate that dynamic

http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/04/28/futures-market/

JKR

If this matter is referred to the Supreme Court, how long would it take for the Court to render a response?

Harper must know what's in those documents. Without knowing what's in those documents it's hard to predict what Harpe's considering.

In any case, Harper's not going to fight an election over keeping documents from Parliament. But if those documents are damaging, he'll want to orchestrate an election well before they are made public.

For some reason I can't help but think that Harper may turn out to be Canada's version of Richard Nixon.

Maybe Harper will go on tv and talk about his new kitten, "Checkers" and end his speech with, "I'm not a crook."

Le T Le T's picture

Quote:
If it is allowed to become an accepted principle of governance, the long trend towards an elected dictatorship, which started with Trudeau, and has been progressing ever since, will be complete. The house of commons will be nothing more than a rather unruly debating society.

We actually started with the dictatorship. It was called the Family Compact. Canada has never had a history of democracy, despite what nationalist propoganda tells you.

KenS

Speculation by observors, and here in a couple other threads, about this leading to an election.

Methinks unlikely.

And not only because the polls do not show the Conservatives withing reach of a majority... even if they have a pretty strong campaign [that much being highly likely].

"Looking for a compromise" will give them all the face saving they need for climbing down and not havng to admitt that national security concerns were never an issue.

After said compromise they will have to face criticism over what is actually found in the documents. But unless they want an election now- and they don't need to search/stretch an issue if they do want one- calling an election to avoid discussion about what is in the documents is a cure far worse than the disease.

Without being able to discuss actual details in the documents this will end up most likely being only closely watched by political junkies and people with a level of concern for human rights [who are almost certainly anti-Harper anyway].

KenS

And if thats true, then it would seem to follow that there isn't really anything for the Liberals to chicken out over.

In fact, my hunch is that the facts will largely come out without much high dungeon.

The substance of the issue aside, if the process unfolds more or less with a minimum of dungeon and grandstanding, it would be an interesting counterpoint to the historical precedent being established.

As Derek Lee says- its not like MPs have never before scrutinized important documents that for security reasons they cannot recant the details. So in the end, it may be that the historical importance of the process is that Harper was in essentially straightforward manne simply smacked down for trying to go to new lengths of using national security as a smoke screen.

Assuming of course that that they stick with the current smoke signals indicating that they are not inclined to take this to the Supreme Court... which I'll bet they've done lots of polling and focus grouping around and very likely found that doing so would set them back with the swing voters.

Stockholm

Of course this all makes sense excpet that it also makes you wonder why the Tories have been willing to pay such a huge amount of political capital to keep these documents secret all along. If they are going to cave in finally, why not have done it back in December? Instead this issue has been the gift that keeps on giving for the opposition.

Unionist

Stockholm wrote:

 Instead this issue has been the gift that keeps on giving for the opposition.

With a limp Opposition, no gift gives for long.

Remember Bill C-288?

Quote:
The purpose of this Act is to ensure that Canada takes effective and timely action to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol and help address the problem of global climate change.

It received royal assent June 22, 2007.

The Harper government ridiculed it and said they would ignore it.

The so-called "Opposition" parties promptly said, "oh, ok, sorry we passed it, don't mind us, what's the next diversionary issue of the day? please don't call an election - please!".

If they couldn't profit from that "gift", I predict the issue of detainees will be forgotten by... ummm... what time is it right now?

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

JKR wrote:

If this matter is referred to the Supreme Court, how long would it take for the Court to render a response?

One of the pundits on P&P last night (I forget which one...) said the SCC would likely refuse to hear the matter and refer it back to Parliament where it rightly belongs.

Frmrsldr

Unionist wrote:

Harper has never lost a skirmish yet. He can normally rely on the opposition to either fold or divide. I'll be very shocked (though thrilled) if he ends up being hurt this time.

You said it, Unionist! The moment I read your words, I 'walked over to your camp.'

Frmrsldr

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Joey Ramone wrote:

I wish that were true, but Harper's got a lot more guts than her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, and less fear of an election.  It will take another vote in Parliament to enforce the Speaker's ruling.  If Harper decides to make it a confidence vote, which would trigger an election, the cowardly opposition will almost certainly cave, as they have on everything else.

You may be right, but I have some hope that the fundamental importance of the issue involved in this case might stiffen the spines of the Liberals. It really is the case that Canadian democracy will be seriously undermined, perhaps even fatally, if the intransigence of the Harperites is allowed to stand. I also think that the voters who are not part of the Tory hard core base can be brought to an understanding of the importance of the issue..

There could not possibly be a stronger case for running an election for the opposition parties and making Harper history!

GO FOR THE JUGULAR PEOPLE!

Frmrsldr

Unionist wrote:

Harper is far more principled than any of the other leaders. Just watch him.

What are his "principles"?

Remaining Prime Minister as often and as long as possible?

KenS

Stockholm wrote:

Of course this all makes sense excpet that it also makes you wonder why the Tories have been willing to pay such a huge amount of political capital to keep these documents secret all along. If they are going to cave in finally, why not have done it back in December?

But I think thats with hindsight.

The Machievellian logic makes sense when you look at the whole program they had in mind at year end: prorogue not just to put a pause on the detainee hearings, but to use the time to decisively change the channel to who do you want in charge of guiding the economic recovery? Ballot question, wrapped in Throne Speech and Budget Speech, election.

The "what prorogue, who cares?" part of that did not work, in a big way, so it threw everything else off track. But had it worked that far, then sweeping the detainee controversy under the rug in itself would have been fairly straightforward.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I've yet to hear a Conservative say they're afraid of an election. They must have their own polling which probably has them higher than EKOS etc have. And the Con war chest ($$$) is full while the Liberals - from what I've heard - are really struggling to maintain a war (election) footing. The NDP are probably the one party eager to go to an election at a moment's notice.

However, on the negative side for the Cons, I also heard on P&P a few days ago that the Conservatives have closed their Quebec war room because they've decided they have very little hopes of increasing support in this province. Harper wanted to have those new extra seats in place before the next election to ensure at least the possibility of getting into majority territory without having to go thrugh Quebec.

At least until last week, the consensus was that there is no possibility of an election before next fall at the earliest. Now, Milliken's ruling has changed that, and we may see a lot of scrambling today and in the next two weeks to head off an election no one really wants right now (the fear is that Harper will make this a Confidence matter).  But for those (like me) who are terrified of the prospect of a Con majority, right now is the best time for an election, because while the Cons would likely be returned to power, it would be with a less powerful and less arrogant minority, and forced by public opinion to do some serious compromising with the other parties.

KenS

Its certainly arguable Harper has more nerve. But principles?

He's good at getting what he wants- or at least a good attempt [and then try again later]. And I agree with you that we could all do worse than emulate that capacity he and they have.

Frmrsldr

mahmud wrote:

Oliver North-ites have 2 weeks to do their job. Documents lost. Could not be retrieved. Prove that they were shredded!!!

Ah yes, the Nixon tactic of plausible deniability by "deep sixing" evidence.

However, it is only limited to those documents not yet released (most of them heavily censored, as we know).

Thus, at least, we can hold the government accountable for those documents released that now appear missing - if there are fewer pages.

It's further complicated if there are documents where even the page numbers, titles, headings and other identifiers have been censored.

Frmrsldr

Draco wrote:

It will be interesting who wins the spin cycle on this one: "We need to protect our soldiers from the opposition MPs who want to get them killed" seems like it could alienate more support than it would win.  Then again, a lot of the coverage talks about releasing the documents as if they were tossing them to the winds, rather than giving access to elected reprentatives on a House Committee under secure settings.

This is such bullshit. It has nothing to do with protecting the troops and everything to do with protecting the government.

Frmrsldr

JKR wrote:

If this matter is referred to the Supreme Court, how long would it take for the Court to render a response?

Harper must know what's in those documents. Without knowing what's in those documents it's hard to predict what Harpe's considering.

In any case, Harper's not going to fight an election over keeping documents from Parliament. But if those documents are damaging, he'll want to orchestrate an election well before they are made public.

For some reason I can't help but think that Harper may turn out to be Canada's version of Richard Nixon.

Maybe Harper will go on tv and talk about his new kitten, "Checkers" and end his speech with, "I'm not a crook."

Laughing

Caissa

Is this the beginning of the cave-in?

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he's willing to work with Stephen Harper's Conservative government to end an impasse over documents related to Afghan detainees - if the "extremely secretive" prime minister changes how he does busSpeaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ignatieff said his party will work in good faith toward a process that can determine what in the material can be made public without endangering the operational security of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/04/28/afghan-documents-ruling-ignatieff.html#ixzz0mQIceSwm

Stockholm

"Harper wanted to have those new extra seats in place before the next election to ensure at least the possibility of getting into majority territory without having to go thrugh Quebec."

How many times do we hae to go over this??? THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY OF THE ADDITIONAL SEATS BEING IN PLACE BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION. NO CHANMCE UNDER ANY SCENARIO! NONE! NADA!  Do you get the point???

Let me explain, redistribution happens every ten years based on the decennial census. The next census is being conducted in 2011. The results of the census will be published in 2012. At that point, parliament appoints redistribution commissions in each province that spend a couple of YEARS holding hearings and analysing the census data to then recommend new maps of ridings based on the number of seats each province is supposed to have. The boundary commission initial report then gets sent out for hearings across the country and ebate in Parliament - the whole process take about three or four years. If everything goes like clockwork - Canada MIGHT have a new electoral map based on the new seat allocations in time for an election that could happen by the end of 2014 - but not even Harper cab suspend the constitution and postpone the next election until six years after the 2008 election!

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Stockholm wrote:
How many times do we hae to go over this???

Three or four more times should do it.Laughing

ottawaobserver

That's right: the legislation would change the formula for the next redistribution to use, as I understand it, not the actual seat allocation.

Also, the Conservatives closed their headquarters in Montreal, but opened one in Quebec City. So they're going with a more targetted strategy.

I also had the same worry in reading Bill Curry's story that the so-called "compromise" would wind up as a Liberal cave to the Conservatives again. That's certainly what it's sounding like so far.

NorthReport

If the Liberals cave in to Harper once again, it should cost them a few more points in the polls. If they continue to act like this they will come in third or fourth in the next election.

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