Tory MP Laurie Hawn demanded that the NDP and Liberals allow Mulroney to testify immediately. A clear attempt to do two things- get the looming stench of Harper's Chinese visit off the table, with Mulroney a potential embarrassment, and further muddy Colvin's claims. I was struck by how Rae and the NDP's Harris deftly brushed off the challenge with an effective counter. Basically, produce the documents we've asked for, or your boy takes a powder. Brilliant.
This posture continued later in Parliament:
Not so fast.
Opposition MPs tabled a notice of motion late tonight that will get voted on when the Committee meets Wednesday (a meeting at which they'll hear testimony from Gen. Rick Hillier and others). The motion is from NDP MP Paul Dewar but I'm told the Liberals were ready to table one that was mighty similar and, basically, it tells the government that Mulroney ain't testifying until the committee gets a pile of documents that they've been asking for for ages.
"The issue is simple - we've now asked for documents, and [Defence Minister Peter] Mackay has promised them. A proper inquiry is not "he said she said'. It's about understanding what happened in 2006-2007," said Liberal MP and committee member Bob Rae. "The committee is master of its timetable."
"We have concerns about having Mr. Mulroney appear in front of the committee before we've had a chance to look at the information promised by [Defence Minister Peter] MacKay in Question Period today (briefing notes of the minister in 2006-2007 on detainees), in order to ask the relevant questions," said Jean-François Del Torchio, a Liberal spokesman. "The government has changed its story so many time that their attempt to move this quickly is suspicious. This is another example of the government failing to be transparent.
Dimitri Soudas, the prime minister's chief spokesman, accused the opposition of playing political games. "If the opposition were serious about finding answers they would allow Mr. Mulroney to appear before the Committee."
Maybe there is some gamesmanship on display, but then again you're clearly on the field too Dimitri so stand down.
There is some merit in the opposition demanding documentation, so they can review and decipher, prior to Mulroney appearing. For the government to now refuse, it just reeks of further COVER UP. The Conservatives will be forced to oblige, or risk the amusing spectacle of the willing witness silenced because of their stonewalling. The eventual appearance won't be the opportunity envisioned, more pointed and specific.
A classic case of putting the ball squarely back in your opponent's court. Well done. We look forward to the disclosure, see you in China at the photo-op Prime Minister!