Topp's Coalition Memoirs, part2

105 posts / 0 new
Last post
KenS
Topp's Coalition Memoirs, part2
NorthReport

Thanks Ken. I think we have a best seller here. Wink

 

The next chapter could be a hoot if it wasn't so pathetically sad.

What fools the Liberals are - they could have basically controlled the government for the past year. Now, they may never see power again for a long, long, time. And all the damage that  Harper is doing can be placed squarely at the Liberals feet. Smucks are what the Ignatieff Liberals are.

ottawaobserver

It will turn out to have been Ignatieff's only chance at 24 Sussex Drive.

NorthReport

Visions of grandeur!

Where have we seen that before. Oh yes, Paul Martin.

Paul Martin's thugs wouldn't still be running things, would they.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

I knew Topp was a great strategist and I've always appreciated the fact that he actually wants the NDP to win, but I had no idea until recently what a compelling writer he is. This is the foundation for a great book.

Wilf Day

Scott Piatkowski wrote:
This is the foundation for a great book.

In his intro to the first piece, he wrote

Quote:
over the coming week, the folks at globeandmail.com are going to post some extracts from a longer piece I've written on these events.

Where can we buy the book?

NorthReport
NorthReport

 

Now I remember that disaster of a tape.

Could that have been sabotage from either within or outside of the Liberal party? Or are the Liberals just that incompetent.

Quote:
Mr. Dion reads a good deal better on paper than he sounded on television that day, a fact that was about to destroy him.

ottawaobserver

Dion never left them enough time to correct any errors, given the number of times he revised the draft of what he was going to say.  Anyone can make a mistake with technology, but there was no time left to fix it.  It was Peter Gzowski's son, Mick Gzowski, apparently holding the camera.  He does video for a living now, I think I read.  Dion's chief of staff later acknowledged that they'd left him 25 minutes to shoot 20 minutes of footage.  No-one could work under that situation.

NorthReport

Correct.

 

Chantal Hebert now weighs in although it appears she is missing the mark.

Coalition’s stumble can’t be blamed on Bloc

 http://news.guelphmercury.com/Opinions/EditorialOpinion/article/570211

ottawaobserver

I think she's saying that it was ultimately the vacuum in the Liberal Party leadership that killed it.  And I can't really disagree with her.

West Coast Lefty

Wilf Day wrote:

Scott Piatkowski wrote:
This is the foundation for a great book.

In his intro to the first piece, he wrote

Quote:
over the coming week, the folks at globeandmail.com are going to post some extracts from a longer piece I've written on these events.

Where can we buy the book?

I agree, Topp's blog series is absolutely riveting reading! Takes me right back to that exhilirating time a year ago when we were speculating on which Cabinet posts would go to Layton, Mulcair, Judy W-L, etc...

It would be great to have a book-length version of Topp's story,  with similar oral history perspectives from the other coalition participants.

In essence, the coalition was a combination of Dion trying to do an end-run around his party to become PM and Layton's extremely strategic siezing of the opportunity to take the NDP into a governing coalition. I was dismayed at the time that we gave in on the corporate tax cuts, but it was a good-faith attempt to build a unity coalition at a time of crisis.  The coalition government with Dion and Layton would have been significantly more progressive on EI, green stimulus spending and climate change than the sorry excuse for a government we have now under Harper.

Sadly, this was a historically unique circumstance that is very unlikely to be repeated in the forseeable future.  The Harper spin machine won the day as Topp writes and I think the Libs in particular are totally against any form of coalition or even electoral cooperation as Michael Byers suggested a few weeks ago.  If Rae is the next Lib leader, I predict he will rule out the coalition the day he announces his next leadership campaign.

duncan cameron

I understand James Lormer and Co. are bringing out a book based on the series.

remind remind's picture

just excellent writing, and  he certainly called the msm on their part in the anti-democratic lies of Harper...and just what are the implications of what he states, in this respect?

 

Quote:
The Prime Minister’s very first line captured the whole Conservative case: “Mr. Speaker, the highest principle of Canadian democracy is that if one wants to be prime minister one gets one’s mandate from the Canadian people and not from Quebec separatists.”

That, of course, is not true. The highest principle of Canadian democracy is that Parliament gets its mandate from the Canadian people, and then selects a ministry from among its ranks to do its bidding. But truth had nothing to do with what happened next.

If the shoe had been on the other foot, and it had been Stephen Harper’s Conservatives at the head of a parliamentary majority moving in the first days of a new Parliament to unseat an isolated minority government (as Mr. Harper had been planning to do when he was an opposition leader), English-speaking Canadians on December 2 and 3, 2008, would have heard a very different song from their television networks, open-mouth radio, newspapers and magazines. They would have been listening to lectures about parliamentary history, parliamentary democracy, responsible government, the need for the executive to be democratically accountable – and the need for the executive to find its legitimacy from a majority of the House of Commons each and every day of its existence, failing which the House had both the power and the duty to install a new ministry that could command that support.

But in this case, it was an isolated minority Conservative government that had lost its parliamentary support. And so it was the Tory Prime Minister’s themes that English Canadians heard

 

bolding my own...

 

And can there be any doubt Harper and Ignatieff are controlled by the same people? Cause this is way  to rich...

 

Quote:
late January Mr. Ignatieff in effect led his caucus into the Conservative lobby, voting confidence in Stephen Harper’s government, support for its fiscal measures, and an end to the new and better government his party had agreed with ours.

In return, Mr. Ignatieff negotiated an arrangement under which the Harper government could and would use public funds to publicize its measures every quarter.

That was a commitment Mr. Harper was happy to give Mr. Ignatieff, and to keep.

 

janfromthebruce

It was way obvious that Iggy was out of his league in negotiating anything with the Harper govt. He didn't give a rat's ass about the 62% who did not vote for a conservative led govt but it was all about him and him being king one day. He sold out in plain view - like a snake in "selling the private negotiations" for his "day in the sun" that will never come.

I guess he never heard that a bird in the hand is worth more than 2 in the bush. But why would he - with his head and arse stuck in his elitest sky - that a commoners understanding on how the world really works.

remind remind's picture

Ya, funny how the more "elite" a person gets, the less  they understand how the world really works, eh.... ;D

 

 

ottawaobserver

Of course, Warren Kinsella can't abide it when he's not part of a big story, and just HAS to let everyone know that he was the Ignatieff insider ... as if we couldn't already tell (like, dude, who else would write that way!).

ottawaobserver

Part 6 - "Lessons Learned" - has just been published.

Bookish Agrarian

I really like this series. 

I should learn though not to read the comments. I have to say the next time I hear someone say the NDP shouldn't govern because of Bob Rae I will scream.  It's as if there has never been questionable leadership from provincial and federal governments by other parties.  Good grief grab a brain.

remind remind's picture

Hopefully they are preparing such a Bill for next seession...

 

Quote:
All proposals for fundamental institutional change – for example, replacing the Governor-General with a legitimate, accountable president elected by the House of Commons – founder on the impossibility of amending the current Canadian constitution without the consent of provinces, who will want more power in the bargain. It therefore falls to the House of Commons to defend Canada’s only national democratic body within the current rules.

Here are two things I submit it could do: First, the House of Commons could and should legislate to direct the prime minister to never provide advice to the Governor-General that interferes with the functioning of the House when a confidence motion is before it. This would hopefully make it more difficult for a prime minister to avoid democratic accountability to the House of Commons through a politically illegitimate and improper use of the Royal prerogative.

Second, the House of Commons could (and I think should) legislate that confidence votes must come in one of two forms. Option A: the government is defeated and an election is called. Or option B: the government is defeated and immediately replaced, at that moment, by a new one, specified by the House of Commons in its confidence vote. Subject of course to final approval by Her Majesty, as represented by our Governor-General, who in these circumstances will hopefully be more attentive to the views of the House of Commons.

By making the intention and consequence of confidence votes explicitly clear like this, less room will be left for prime ministers and their ciphers to make mischief with the constitution or our democracy. The House of Commons can either dissolve itself and take its discontents to the electorate, or it can poleaxe the prime minister and his hand-picked cabinet and install another more to its liking – a constructive vote of no-confidence.

Tommy_Paine

 

A few things strike me about this.  The rapid responce Topp got from his Tory contact, regarding "handing over the country to the separatists."   So fast, it illustrates how the Tories had already gamed the various scenarios.  Looks as if the Tories new what we were going to do before we did.   If we're going to play with these guys, we better bring our game up a level or two.

 

The second thing is the unbelievable arrogance of the Liberals.  Here we were, throwing them a life line, doing them a favour they didn't possibly deserve in a gazillion years, doing them a favour that was against NDP interests, and they treated the NDP like dirt, bargaining this and that like they had a position to bargain from.   It's clear they did not appreciate their situation then, and there's been nothing in the intervening year that shows they have come to a non fantasy based appreciation of their situation.   Rae and Iggy think they are fighting for the captaincy of a machine that ensures them a ride to Prime Minister on the HMS Natural Governing Party, instead of the Titanic.

There's just nothing to be done with the Liberals now, except do whatever we can to hasten their dissapearance from Canadian Politics.

Thirdly, I am impressed with Topp, and with Layton.  However, it comes under the heading of "to do well what should not be done".

Thank our lucky stars the coalition failed.  I don't see Topp's vision for what could have been.   I do think, rather, that progressive legislation from the NDP that the Liberals would have oh so reluctantly passed would have only served to bring deluded progressives more solidly with the Liberals, while they enacted policy and legislation to warm the business world.   And, with the key to the treasury back in their hands, it would have been politics as usual for their friends seeking government contracts and money for nothing while hard working honest Canadians did without.  

And they would have done nothing for Canada's children, because it's just too juicy an item for the Liberal bait and switch platform for the next election-- and a Liberal majority and NDP colapse it would have been, too.

Again, fortune smiled upon the NDP and prevented us from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  In spite of our best efforts.

 

Finally.  For. The. Record. 

An important step New Democrats would have pushed hard would have been to consider affordable ways to begin undoing the damage Paul Martin did to employment insurance.

 

Paul Martin and the Liberals removed about 50 Billion dollars from the E.I. Fund that did not belong to them.  Which they had  no authority to do.

When you take something that doesn't belong to you, it's called stealing down here on the street, where we call a shovel a shovel, and not a regolith transferance vehicle.

Cripes.

 

 

NorthReport

Sometimes Wells is on the money, but sometimes he is just bizarre.

Quote:
Now, call me a Tory force multiplier, but I didn’t see that specific option on my ballot in 2008. 

When you peddle nonsense like this you are a Tory force multiplier. Look at the ballots in nations where coalitions are the norm. Do you see a coalition listed on the ballot in any one of them.

 

Well-lit Layton vs. the Force Amplifiers

 

 

http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/12/04/well-lit-layton-vs-the-force-amplifiers/

NorthReport
NorthReport

I agree that our Governor General acted inappropriately. Since when does she only listen to a minority prime minister. What ever happened to majority rule. She should never have allowed Harper to prorogue Parliament. She does indeed need to step down.

madmax

I found the sixth part a little disjointed.  This series held my attention until the end, and then it just fizzled out.... (IMHO).

A little to preachy.  Maybe I need to read it again, but the first 5 were dynamite.

remind remind's picture

Oh my..... the right is not liking Topp's account

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

madmax wrote:
I found the sixth part a little disjointed.  This series held my attention until the end, and then it just fizzled out....

Much like the coalition itself.

ottawaobserver

LOL Scott

NorthReport
madmax

LOL Scott.

Wilf Day

Now we have the inside story, I'll rethink what I wrote at the time here on Babble:

Quote:
Some people in western Canada reacted against the Coalition as though it was an attack on the West and would be dominated by Ontario and Quebec.

In fact there is no reason for the West to have fewer cabinet members in the Coalition government than they have today.

Currently the cabinet (which does not include Ministers of State) has 26 members besides Stephen Harper: nine from the west, nine from Ontario, four from Quebec, three from Atlantic Canada, one from the North.

The Coalition cabinet is to have 24 ministers plus the Prime Minister. Eighteen of these ministers will be from the Liberal caucus. Six of these ministers will be from the NDP caucus. "In the event the Prime Minister chooses to appoint a larger cabinet, the NDP proportion will be maintained."

I think they are going to dispense with Ministers of State, and have a larger cabinet but a smaller ministry: 29 ministers, rather than Harper’s 38. From the West nine, Ontario nine, Quebec seven, Atlantic four.

From the West six Liberals: Ralph Goodale (Saskatchewan), Ujjal Dosanjh (BC), Joyce Murray (BC), Sukh Dhaliwal or Hedy Fry (BC), Senator Claudette Tardif (Alberta), Anita Neville (Manitoba)

Three New Democrats: Libby Davies (BC), Linda Duncan (Alberta), Judy Wasylicia-Leis (Manitoba)

They are going to have a really hard time holding it down to nine in Ontario, counting Ignatieff and Layton:

Six Liberals: Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, John McCallum or Ken Dryden, Carolyn Bennett or Judy Sgro or Ruby Dhalla

Three New Democrats: Jack Layton, Joe Comartin, Charlie Angus

No room for all the other good Ontario Liberals: Bryon Wilfert, David McGuinty, Mark Holland, Maria Minna, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Navdeep Bains, Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Dan McTeague, Anthony Rota, Mario Silva, John McKay, Glen Pearson, or Mauril Bélanger. Well, there's always Parliamentary Secretaries.

Seven from Quebec: six Liberals: Denis Coderre, Irwin Cotler, Marlene Jennings, Marcel Proulx, Pablo Rodriguez, Bernard Patry or Stéphane Dion (or Justin Trudeau or Raymonde Folco or Francis Scarpaleggia?)

NDP: Thomas Mulcair

Atlantic provinces: Liberals: Dominic LeBlanc (NB), Scott Brison (NS), Wayne Easter (PEI), Todd Russell (Nfld & Lab.) (or Siobhan Coady? Or Gerry Byrne?)

No room for the NDP’s Jack Harris, which is a real shame.

Well, we now know the Liberals hated giving up some positions. The idea of a 24-member cabinet would have wilted in a flash. They were already talking about Secretaries of State (junior ministers) in cabinet. When Harper had 38, the Coalition would have looked good with 33 (including the PM).

And we know Dawn Black was a key player.

So the cabinet could have been:

Nine from the West; six Liberals: Ralph Goodale (Saskatchewan), Ujjal Dosanjh (BC), Joyce Murray (BC), Keith Martin (or Hedy Fry or Sukh Dhaliwal) (BC), Senator Claudette Tardif (Alberta), Anita Neville (Manitoba)

Three New Democrats: Dawn Black (BC), Linda Duncan (Alberta), Judy Wasylicia-Leis (Manitoba)

Eleven in Ontario. Eight Liberals: Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, John McCallum, Ken Dryden, Carolyn Bennett, Mauril Bélanger.

Three New Democrats: Jack Layton, Joe Comartin, Tony Martin.

Eight from Quebec: seven Liberals: Stéphane Dion, Denis Coderre, Marlene Jennings, Irwin Cotler, Marc Garneau, Justin Trudeau, Marcel Proulx or Pablo Rodriguez. NDP: Thomas Mulcair

Four Atlantic provinces: Liberals: Dominic LeBlanc (NB), Scott Brison (NS), Wayne Easter (PEI), Todd Russell (Nfld & Lab.) (or Judy Foote? Gerry Byrne?)

North: NDP: Dennis Bevington.

If Ignatieff hadn't lost his nerve. (He took over the leadership saying he was ready to head a Coalition Government.) 

Lord Palmerston

I found this particularly irksome:

Quote:
The coalition government would have overseen the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2011, on time and on schedule, or would have broken up over the issue. That being so, Canada would likely have been doing what it could to mediate an honourable settlement in Afghanistan that allowed NATO as a whole to phase out its combat role. The fact that this week Barrack Obama set a July, 2011, deadline for U.S. troops to begin their own withdrawal from Afghanistan suggests we would have had important partners in this work.

Instead, the Harper government is contributing nothing to finding peace in that country. And as I write there is, disturbingly, much to learn about the fate of enemy combatants who surrendered to our country, on Mr. Harper’s watch, in the course of the tragic conflict in Afghanistan.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/brian-topp/coalition-redux-lessons-...

remind remind's picture

Quote:
And we know Dawn Black was a key player.

And yet a year later she is out of federal politics......

NorthReport

Speaking of coalition government, it's just too freakin' bad these Liberals are so clueless as to not realize what a golden opportunity they have right now to take the Harper government down and put them out of their misery once and for all over the torture allegations. What a useless group of politicians. 

 

Screw the inquiry, take the governemnt down!  

 

Top general's detainee reversal hikes pressure
for public inquiry

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/in-about-face-top-general-a...

remind remind's picture

That is an astute point NR, why is this government still standing?

NorthReport

So yesterday Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff says there was no torture, but today he says there was torture. Why the change of heart, did anyone ask him that, or do they have the goods on all these bloody scumbag liars the likes of Hillier, MacKay, Harper, etc. These people are thugs and should be treated as such. The opposition has the numbers to boot their bloody asses out onto the street. The government should fall over this.

NorthReport

Bring this government down now.

The Commons: ‘Will they stop already?’

 

The Scene. “General Natynczyk said what the government has been saying all along,” the Prime Minister explained en francais with his first opportunity.

Across the way, Gilles Duceppe burst out laughing.

Sixteen times these past few weeks members of this government told the House that not a single proven allegation of abuse suffered by a Canadian-transferred detainee could be found. The Defence Minister, the Transport Minister and the Defence Minister’s parliamentary secretary all testified as such.

Two days ago, the Globe reported otherwise. General Walter Natynczyk insisted that a close reading of the situation in question demonstrated the detainee, later beaten by Afghan authorities, was not so much detained and transferred, as merely questioned. And government ministers insisted on accepting Gen. Natynczyk’s version of events.

Only just before noon today, Gen. Natynczyk summoned the cameras and notepads and announced that he was wrong, that new information indicated the detainee in question was not just questioned, but in fact taken into custody. And so suddenly, it seemed, there was some explaining to do.

 

Perhaps stumped by the Prime Minister’s first response, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff tried again, this time in English. “Mr. Speaker, when General Natynczyk corrected his account this morning, he did so, he said, in order to restore trust in his office and in his institution,” he said. “The issue here is trust. We cannot trust this government. We cannot trust a word that comes out of the mouth of the minister. When will the Prime Minister fire him and call a full, independent, public inquiry?”

The Prime Minister stood to repeat himself. “Mr. Speaker, the facts of the case in question of course confirm what we have been saying all along,” he said.

Now it was the Liberal side that laughed incredulously, apparently having missed Mr. Harper’s comments in the other language.

“Which is that,” the Prime Minister continued, “when the Canadian Forces see substantive evidence of any case of abuse, they have taken corrective action.”

Indeed. This government has referred previously to “credible evidence” and “credible allegations” and “substantial evidence” and “credible information” and even “credible, sustained information and evidence.” But then John Baird has said that “there has not been a single proven allegation of abuse of a Canadian-transferred prisoner.” And Peter MacKay has said that “there is no credible evidence, none, zero, to suggest that a Taliban prisoner transferred from Canadian Forces was ever abused.” And Laurie Hawn has said that “there has not been a single substantiated allegation of abuse of a Canadian transferred detainee.”

“The issue is whether the government did the right thing,” Mr. Ignatieff ventured with his third opportunity, straining it seemed to properly convey himself to the Prime Minister. “For more than a year, it had credible reports from Canadian diplomats, from Canadian military of abuse of detainees in Afghan prisons. It did nothing. Will it now admit that it made a mistake? There was a year when it did nothing. Will it appoint an independent judicial inquiry to get to the bottom of this affair, and will it fire the Minister of Defence?”

The Prime Minister begged to differ. “The only nothing here is that the opposition has had nothing new to ask about in three years,” he huffed.

Ujjal Dosanjh took a couple turns at shaming the government side. Peter MacKay stood to respond amid a chorus of calls from the Liberal side to resign. Mr. Dosanjh dared the government to call an inquiry. Mr. MacKay pumped his fist and spoke glowingly of the country’s diplomats and soldiers.

The questions persisted. There were groans from all sides and accusations of who was saying what about whom. The Bloc’s Claude Bachand demanded the Prime Minister apologize to the House. Mr. MacKay stood to respond, but was forced back down by louder calls to step aside.

Jack Layton picked up the inquiry. The Prime Minister dismissed his concern. Mr. Layton lost his patience. ”Mr. Speaker, will they stop already?” he begged, proceeding to point and yell and visibly demonstrate his frustration.

http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/12/09/the-commons-will-they-stop-already/

remind remind's picture

You know this is almost scarey, that they feel they can blatently lie in the HoC, after essentiually been proven to have committed war crimes, without any consequences.

 

NorthReport

Exactly remind, it's way over the top, destroying what little there is left of Canada's once solid reputation, and that is why I believe that this government should be brought down immediately. Only this time the opposition parties should meet in secret and only when they have a deal should they go public with it to the GG. 

ottawaobserver

remind wrote:

That is an astute point NR, why is this government still standing?

If the opposition voted non-confidence in the government right now, the Governor-General would dissolve parliament and an election would have to be held.  The window for a coalition or alternative government to replace them passed after their first nine months or so in office.

Two of the last chances to vote non-confidence in the government came and went with the HST vote, which the Liberals and Bloc supported.  Tomorrow is the Liberals' last opposition day motion.  They've put a number of different possible motions on the Order Paper, but not one of them is a confidence motion, although I suppose it could always be amended to add that clause by the Bloc (the NDP doesn't get sub-amendments unless the Bloc demurs).

NorthReport

So be it. Sometimes you have to stand up for what's right, and consequences be damned. Bring on the election and we'll fight it on whether or not Canada should be complicit in war crimes.

ottawaobserver

I love your heart on this one, NR, but it's a totally bad idea.

West Coast Lefty

ottawaobserver wrote:

remind wrote:

That is an astute point NR, why is this government still standing?

If the opposition voted non-confidence in the government right now, the Governor-General would dissolve parliament and an election would have to be held.  The window for a coalition or alternative government to replace them passed after their first nine months or so in office.

Two of the last chances to vote non-confidence in the government came and went with the HST vote, which the Liberals and Bloc supported.  Tomorrow is the Liberals' last opposition day motion.  They've put a number of different possible motions on the Order Paper, but not one of them is a confidence motion, although I suppose it could always be amended to add that clause by the Bloc (the NDP doesn't get sub-amendments unless the Bloc demurs).

 

In fairness, the NDP voted to keep Harper in power in September on the Ways and Means motion on the home reno tax credit - the Libs and BQ voted against it, so if the NDP had voted with them, Harper would have been defeated and there would have been an election.  Layton and the caucus did get the EI changes for long-term workers (and later for self-employed workers) in exchange but they did keep the government in power at that time.

Unionist

Awww, WCL, that's ancient history - it's the Libs and BQ keeping Harper in power now. Isn't it? Whatever.

It's not clear to me why we should fear an election. Harper might get a majority? What do you call his current balance of power?

 

ottawaobserver

WCL, you're perfectly right.  I was merely answering the question about why the government couldn't be voted out on non-confidence now.

Unionist, rhetorically yes you're right.  Practically no you're not.

Unionist

ottawaobserver wrote:

 

Unionist, rhetorically yes you're right.  Practically no you're not.

My post was the purest rhetoric. I didn't propose or state anything (other than jokingly), so what am I wrong about in a "practical" sense? That Harper is governing as if he has a majority? I think he has done that for four years and will continue, with or without an election, unless a coalition is formed to stop him. Now, if "practically" means that cowards and opportunists are not likely to do what's in the interest of the Canadian people, I agree with you - but not everyone in those parties is like that.

 

Fidel

Unionist wrote:
What do you call his current balance of power?

I call it an exaggerated minority after 22 percent of registered voters elected the Harpers just over a year ago. They shouldn't have this many seats if one Canadian equalled one vote.

Unionist

Maybe, Fidel, but he does wield power I think, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to join forces ("coalition of the willing"!!??) and stop him.

Fidel

And let's hope this vote on HST will come back to haunt a few of them by next election.

NorthReport

Finally some serious opposition to Harper. And he takes on Spector and kcks his ass too.

 

A fundamental test for Stephen Harper

 

One of the great principles of English liberty, upon which our system of government is founded, is this: no parliament may bind a future parliament.

It therefore will not do for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet to assert that the House of Commons cannot have the documents it demanded this week, because producing them might violate some law a predecessor parliament past long ago.

Parliament is supreme in our system of government, subject to the Charter of Rights. Which is not in our constitution to protect war criminals from justice, or ministers from scrutiny. The Prime Minister and his cabinet are accountable to the House of Commons. The House demanded yesterday that its own ministers table, unexpurgated, the documentary record relating to the abuse of enemy combatants in Afghanistan who fell into our country's power.

The ministry must now do this.

Some important constitutional issues arise from the Prime Minister's conduct a year ago, as I argued in this space earlier. But there is no exceptional circumstance here. The nation is not at risk of being controlled by the separatists and the socialists today. What we have here is a straightforward test of whether or not we are governed in a system of responsible government.

And so, whether or not this issue will be "a ballot question," this is a fundamental test of the character, principles, and judgement of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his colleagues.

In 1996, Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan wrote an article in Next City entitled "Our Benign Dictatorship" (you can find a copy here). This important article rewards a careful read on many issues.

But the issue today is this: do any of Mr. Harper's principles survive?

Or has he been so corrupted by his brief time in the executive suites of Ottawa that he has become the agent for the final victory of all the faults of our national government, discussed in that article?

Is his historic role to help reform our increasingly secretive, irresponsible, and undemocratic national institutions - as he claimed? Or the exact opposite?

---

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/brian-topp/a-fundamental-test-for-s...

NorthReport

Spector's response

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/spector-vision/political-science-10...

Finally though someone is taking this right wing creep on who has had carte blanche to spew his garbage out unresponded to for years in our mainstream press.

 

Update My equally esteemed blogging colleague Norman Spector has entered this discussion with what I will respectfully suggest is a straw man. He reports correctly that old laws are in force until replaced by new ones. And somehow suggests this means the government can defy a direct order from Parliament to surrender documents that Parliament requires in an inquiry.

I don't think so, colleague. The government can throw up procedural roadblocks of course. But Parliament can (through the slow working of its own machinery, including its right to vary existing law) require its own ministry to surrender documents it deems appropriate. Arguably Stockwell Day and his cabinet colleagues are in contempt of Parliament today.

 

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/brian-topp/a-fundamental-test-for-s...

Pages

Topic locked