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Conservatives still in contempt of Parliament

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson stood up today on a point of order to announce what in my opinion is more or less a stalling tactic on the Afghan detainee documents issue/an apparent attempt to stall any contempt of Parliament motion from Derek Lee of the Liberals:

The Justice Minister has asked Frank Iacobucci, the former Supreme Court justice, to review documents relevant to the Afghan detainee issue and decide which can be turned over to the opposition.

Note that the government is still not willing to concede to the convention of the “Supremacy of Parliament”; that is, that Parliament has the authority to order the government to turn over all documents (which it has done in a vote) whether the government wants to or not.

In my view, this maneuver by Nicholson and the Conservative government does nothing to address Parliament’s vote ordering all unredacted documents to be turned over. Nicholson and his government is still trying to claim his government has the right to hide certain documents. This is also not a public inquiry – which is the out the Liberals offered to the government to get out of the contempt motion. This is a pesudo-consultation which the government is using to imply that it can decide what documents it can turn over to Parliament.

In my opinion, Derek Lee and the Liberals (and if not them, another opposition party or MP) should proceed with their Contempt of Parliament Point of order, and furthermore ask the Speaker for a Warrant ordering those documents be produced. Nicholson’s actions and his Conservative governments actions today show that same contempt for Parliament that they did before prorogation.

UPDATE: Interesting series of Twitter tweets from Kady O’Malley, who has a mini-rundown of the events. She says that Derek Lee could still proceed with his motion, if he wanted to:

…there’s no reason why lee can’t proceed on contempt, and defer the motion related to seizure…to mollify lee, the minister – ministers, actually -will have to explicitly acknowledge power to i interpret his position, this is not just about *these* docs, but persons, papers and records in general.

Her CBC colleague Neil Morrison also notes with some amusement that this particular retired SC justice made a very interesting decision as it relates to an assembly’s privilege. I’m betting though that the government won’t be asking him the question Neil wonders if they will ask him – they probably would get an answer they might not like.


18 comments to Conservatives still in contempt of Parliament

  • Anon

    This is an aside. It isn’t difficult to understand why the Harper Government wants to sell off the CBC to private broadcasters. This country will be in a sorry mess if CBC is sold. We will not ever get unbiased reports again. Please protest this attempt to let CBC go.

  • bubba

    Why is the committee only interested in the happening since 2006?

    • Bull Caller


      Bubba the conbot writes: “Why is the committee only interested in the happening since 2006?”

      This is not correct. It is a common troll talking point however. The liberals have already, and very publicly said they are just fine with investigation of all activity regardless of date.

      See thats the difference, Bubba, other parties, even if it is political suicide, will eventually get it together and investigate. Sadly with the Harper conservatives, they only know how to lie and abuse parliamentary procedure to avoid scrutiny like the cowards they all are.

    • Red Forever

      A retired judge has no damn business looking at this.

      It is just a stall tactic on the part of the conservatives.

      Parliament has allready ruled on the release of unredacted documents,

      What part of that do you not understand Bubba

      The conservatives were complicit in torture, and that is the one and only reason they don’t wan’t those documents out.


  • Big Winnie

    Can someone please explain how a retired Judge, who in my opinion shouldn’t be able to view them, can review “top secret” unredacted documents when Parliamentarians on the Afghan committee are unable to? Moreover, this Judge has to report back to Nicholson? Unbelieveable!!

  • bubba

    Iggy and other Libs have come out in support of this choice. Hopefully it bring a quick and proper decision. Parliament could review who decides on security issues. You cant have 10 or 15 member committee’s getting sensitive documents then leaking it all to the press that’s nuts. I would be O.K with an all party committee (5 or 6) swore to secrecy making decisions on what to release.

    • Red Forever

      You think our parliamentarians can’t be trusted on issues of national security.

      Which ones exactly do you think we can’t trust

      Feel free to name names.

      Are you saying some of them should be arrested for treason?

      This argument is so silly

      In our system parliament is supreme

      There are no statutes trumping that.

      Parliamentary supremacy goes all the way back to the magna carta

      • bubba

        I listen to scrums . And they arent liable for things said in the house. The things that all sides say in the house that have no basis in fact is well documented.I havent seen a committee yet that I would trust not to play politics if they thought they would get the upper hand at an election.

      • Jon Pertwee

        @Red Forever, bubba only trusts those who feed him his talking points.

  • rww

    Further I would suggest that a smaller select committee of the House be established (perhaps a subcommittee of the main committee studying the issue) with all members security cleared, and swore into the Privy Council if necessary, and be given full access to all the original uncensored documents.

  • bull caller

    I am astounded to see the libs squander some considerable momentum on this and other issues by letting Harper and co. dictate the narrative and agenda.

    Give conservatives time to craft a lie, hide information, and set up smoke screens they will do it every time. I can’t believe that the opposition (Libs AND NDP) continue to fall for this. There needs to be some backbone on these issues or the electorate is going to continue to feel they are left out. Actions, not internal party strategy will gain favour with the public, not capitulation and hand wringing. If they are appointing a judge Ignatieff should have said “fine, but you are still in contempt and will be held to that”. There is no need for the judge in this issue and it should have been batted away. There is no being reasonable with these slobs.

    This is a problem. If Derek Lee is smart, he will proceed.

    • Red Forever

      I agree

      This thing needs to be settled.

      Parliamentary Supremacy is at stake.

      Harper serves at the pleasure of the house.

      Not the other way around.

    • @bull caller, IT doesn’t have to be just the Liberals to offer the point of order.. the NDP and/or the Bloc could also do it if they wanted to.

      • @Scott Tribe, here’s hoping they do. Not to belittle your sharp powers of observation, but it is obvious that this is, as you put it, “a stalling tactic”. That we’re told Mr Iacobucci is being appointed – and not that he has been appointed – speaks volumes. After all, weren’t the Conservatives working hard these last two months? Why is this man only now being asked to look into this matter?

        Oh, and need I point out that Mr Iacobucci, a private citizen, now has access to documentation that is being withheld from our elected representatives?

        ‘Tis a farce.

      • Bull Caller

        @Scott Tribe,

        I agree, all opposition parties need to show us they are doing more than providing blistering critique, only to be followed by grudging acceptance.

  • […] number of bloggers have already weighed in on Iacobucci’s suitability to the task. Steve at Far and Wide in particular points to Iacobucci having already previously agreed to […]

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