Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Opposition did some thinking this week

For a couple of weeks there have been rumblings from sources in the PMO that Stephen Harper would call an election if the Opposition attempted to invoke Parliamentary privilege in their desire to see the Afghan detainee documents.

I had serious reservations about the Liberals doing just that as indicated in my last post.

However, the actions by the three opposition parties shows that they did some thinking before taking action. They did not just react in a knee-jerk fashion they actually did some planning.

Presenting a united front on this issue is crucial. If it were just the Liberals doing this the Conservatives could have invoked National Security for not releasing the documents and accused the Liberals of just playing partisan games. As well, if all three opposition parties are singing from the same hymn book on this, at least for a little while, then it will likely carry much more weight than if just one party is invoking privilege.

As well, the questions from today have not actually set any mechanisms in motions for finding the government in contempt of Parliament. They essentially just formalize what the Opposition has been saying informally for months. They, as Parliamentarians, have the right to see the Afghan detainee documents.

Again, this is important because it takes away the government's ability to conflate a contempt charge with lack of confidence in the government. If the government wants to use an election to stop the release of these documents they will have to call it. There is nothing in today's Opposition questions that can be construed as the Opposition not having confidence in the government.

So what happens now?

In all likelihood we will see the government squirm some more. The amount of squirming is going to depend on how far ahead the Opposition Parties thought beyond today. They are going to need follow through on this and part of that follow through will be to educate Canadians on the meaning of Parliamentary Supremacy. As well, they are going to have to be ready to take the next step and introduce a motion of contempt. They cannot reverse themselves from the course they charted today.

Ultimately, I do believe we will have an election over this. There is no way Stephen Harper will allow himself to just meekly take a contempt charge from the Opposition. However, if the Opposition has the forethought to use the time between then and and now to give Canadians a crash course in the meaning of Responsible Government this issue could very well fatally damage the Conservatives' chances of re-election.

2 Comments:

Blogger WesternGrit said...

Yes, yes, and YES, to the education of the masses. It's one thing we have failed at in the past - letting fear-mongering and "pop-media" take center stage...

March 18, 2010 8:15 PM  
Blogger marie said...

Ultimately, I do believe we will have an election over this. There is no way Stephen Harper will allow himself to just meekly take a contempt charge from the Opposition.

ottlib, Harper may not have a choice any more. The media is carring it, Canadians are listening and watching the news. Harper my not have a place to run too anymore. His lies are not as believing as they once were.

March 19, 2010 10:13 PM  

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