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The opposition parties stand up for democracy today.

The Speaker has been handed 3 separate points of privilege by the 3 opposition parties today, all asking that the Speaker find the Conservative government in contempt of Parliament for their refusal so far to turn over all unredacted documents referring to Afghan detainees and their treatment (as demanded in a Parliament vote before Christmas), if they continue to refuse to turn over said documents to Parliament.

The liveblogging of the event here from Kady. The full wording of Liberal Derek Lee’s motion here at Maclean’s from Aaron Wherry.

What happens next? Well, the Speaker has reserved judgment for today after hearing arguments. If he rules in favour of the opposition party’s motions, Dr Dawg details what happens next at his blog:

Should the Speaker rule that the continuing defiance of Parliament by the Conservatives is a breach of Parliamentary privilege, motions will be presented: Turn over the unredacted Afghanistan documents, or be found in contempt of Parliament.

I’ll await Dawg’s apology that the Liberals were going to go wishy washy on this. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nevertheless, good to see the ball has finally been set rolling. Parliament cannot be held in contempt or scorn, which is what the Conservatives have been doing. It’s time they be called to account on it. It’s also time to let parliamentarians see what has scared the Conservatives so much that they would go so far to hide them – not from just the media or the public, but from a Military Complaints Commission with top secret clearance, from Opposition MP’s who could be given the same security clearance if there were national security concerns, or a full fledged public inquiry where a judge with full subpoena power would also be able to discern what should be kept out of the public eye (as was the case with the Maher Arar inquiry).

Sorry Mr Ibbittson, the detainee issue is not dead in the water. It`s just gotten re-started.

UPDATE at 1:27 pm: Canadian Press gives more details to the motions – they vary, it appears:

..If the Speaker makes a formal finding of violation, Lee is ready to bring in a motion finding the government in contempt and directing the Commons sergeant-at-arms to go out and seize the documents. This could bring on a bitter constitutional fight between the rights of the executive and the legislature.

The NDP and the Bloc have proposed a somewhat less confrontational motion that would give the Afghan committee three weeks to produce rules for viewing sensitive documents while protecting their secrecy. The government would have a week after that to respond and a refusal would trigger another contempt motion.

UPDATE 2 @ 2:13 pm: The original CAPP group (Canadians against Proroguing Parliament) has just posted this updated graphic at their Facebook site:

14 comments to The opposition parties stand up for democracy today.

  • bull caller

    Well finally it does come to pass. Thank god our opposition has actually decided to do their jobs!

    What our friend “Frunger” fails to acknowledge is that we have arrived at bumping into one of the last backstops of our democracy before it descends into some sort of dictatorship. Its not the fact that this method is in place, but the fact we had to go here to do something that should have been expected as regular orders of business (release the docs, per parliament’s order). In 2 years Harper has brought our democracy to consitutional crises 2 times as a minority government. Just imagine if they actually obtained a governing majority.

    Keep the pressure on. If it goes to election on this issue, Harper will lose, and big time.

  • Harper loses no matter which way he turns. He hands over the documents, he loses. He doesn’t and he loses. He asks for an election, he loses. The opposition MUST continue down the road they have decided to open up. Failure to do so will only entrench Harper in power for a lo-o-o-o-n-g time.

  • TofKW

    So if they are held in contempt, and the sergeant-at-arms goes to sieze the documents and the government refuses, then what?

    That depends on how far Harper wants to go with this. Personally I’d love to see him thrown in the parliamentary dungeon, it’s been far too long since we’ve last used that instrument. However I get the feeling he’ll drop in on the GG and ask for parliament to be dissolved before we see that moment.

    And incidentally, if that happens good luck to your side on even maintaining the seat count you presently hold if: a) you’re the ones forcing an unwanted election at this time, and, b) trying to fight against the 3 issues of government transparency, parliamentary supremacy and compliance with international law.

    Remember this isn’t a confidence issue, it is a legal/constitutional issue. It only goes to an election if Harper triggers it.

  • Frunger

    So if they are held in contempt, and the sergeant-at-arms goes to sieze the documents and the government refuses, then what? How far is the opposition going to take this? Will they all band together and vote this government down, or is it all bluster?

    • Jon Pertwee

      @Frunger, I believe Rae paraphrased the old chestnut Just Watch Me. Hope that keeps you Conbots awake at night Frunger.

  • Big Winnie

    This is a good day for democracy! I also appreciated the fact that the Speaker quickly dismissed Likuski’s question regarding time by mentioning that he asked Lee to refrain from bringing forth his motion.

  • Anon ABC

    Good news for those of us, including you, Scott, who have been calling for this stand for some time.

    As I posted before, Iocabucci should have been a non-starter, even disregarding what it would cost taxpayers for what is basically a secret legal opinion to Harper (at $600/hr for 2 years, it works out to over 2M).

    Let us hope that Iocabucci will now do the right thing, recuse himself from the job and save taxpayers the money, given that the elected representatives of the majority of the people have spoken clearly in the House today that they think Parliamentary priviledges have been transgressed.

  • Great Blog! We have sent thank you’s to the opposition leaders from CAPP. This is definitely what is needed at this moment in time. Bravo!

  • Red Forever


    What a beautiful day for Canadian democracy

    Let’s see how Steve tries to wiggle out of this.

    If the CPC wants to dissolve parliament, and run on a platform of not respecting Parliamentary supremacy, and the rule of law.

    Who is the opoosition to spoil their fun.

    • @Dr.Dawg, Very good ๐Ÿ™‚

      I see I omitted the link to your post. I’ve added that in.

      By the way, hilarious blogpost on Ibbittson. I sent it to my friend in the OLO, who thought it pretty funny.

      I also sent it to Ibbittson (the link) so I hope he has a sense of humour.

      • ck

        Ha! I wouldn’t bet on that Ibbitson having any kind of sense of humour. Gawd! You’re talking about the male version of Blathering Blatchford

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