Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No, You're Out of Order!

Source: CBC News: Speaker Rules Against Government, Oda

In a ruling that should shock no one, Speaker of the House Peter Milliken, has ruled against the Government and cabinet minister Bev Oda in two separate rulings. The ruling against Oda suggests that she may be guilty of misleading Parliament, given that she asserted before a Parliamentary committee that she didn't know who inserted a 'not' into a funding document for KAIROS. She later admitted to Parliament that the 'not' was inserted under her orders/request, which contradicts her earlier statement.

As such, Oda could now face a vote in the House of Commons finding her in contempt of Parliament. The motion could also expand further to include the 'Harper Government', as opposed to just Oda herself.

The second motion, which Milliken sided with the opposition on, revolves around the refusal of the 'Harper Government' to release spending information on their tough on crime legislation. The opposition has been requesting documents regarding the cost of these pieces of legislation, yet the 'Harper Government' has been refusing to release these documents and using 'cabinet privilege' to keep the documents away from the hands of the opposition.

Milliken has ruled that this is not acceptable and violates Parliamentary privilege of other members of the House of Commons.

As such, the House as voted to return the matter to committee to determine what the next course of action is. The committee will then have until March 21st to report back to the House of Commons.

However, can we expect that report to come?

Given that the Liberals have now admitted that they are considering bringing the government down before the Federal Budget, which will come down on March 22nd, it seems possible that we won't get any results from this.

On the other hand, if I can think like a Liberal for a moment, there is a possibility of affixing a vote of non-confidence to the results that are brought forward, if they are particularly damning to the Conservatives. If this is the case, it would give the Liberals a great deal of ammunition to use against the Conservatives an election, and would serve as the best sounding board.

So, the Liberals would be able to avoid voting against a budget (which might include concessions to the NDP on social spending) that could make them look bad, while maximizing the negative image of the Conservatives going into an election.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like what's going on.

Not that I'm defending the 'Harper Government', mind you, but I call it as I see it.

So, whether this is part of Liberal election strategy or not, I think it's an issue that Canadians need to hear the results of; and hopefully, Canadians get a chance to hear about it before the Liberals jump the election gun for their own political advantage.

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