Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Huge Loss" For Conservatives

Speaker Milliken delivered a complete rebuke to the government, Parliament is supreme, and Harper is left with few attractive options. This is a big loss for the Conservatives, they boxed themselves in a corner and now they've managed to reinforce the decidedly negative narrative, that yes, they are secretive and anti-democratic. I believe those two characterizations are the worst possible for a government borne of grassroots expression and supposed white knights of accountability and transparency. This decision will not just reaffirm our democratic tenets, it will HAUNT the Conservatives moving forward.

The Speaker was quite clear, the government has two weeks to work with the opposition to find a tenable solution. Should no agreement come, then that failure will bring consequence for the government. So long as the opposition proceeds in good faith, there is nothing to be gained for the Conservatives, should we require another ruling in two weeks. The spectre of a snap election, predicated on the idea of a government defying the now ESTABLISHED will of Parliament couldn't possibly be more dangerous for the incumbents. Anything is possible with this crew, but from the Liberal perspective, I salivate at the prospects of Harper actually pushing us over the brink and fighting an election defending the rationale. Good luck with that one, it's the stuff of opposition dreams.

The prorogue option is a complete and utter non-starter, Harper has no more political capital on this score, that decision would result in mini revolt, making last winter look tame in comparison. I suppose there is the Supreme Court option, but even this scenario paints a clear picture of a government defying Parliament's will, defying CLEAR guidance from the Speaker. Factor in little advocate support, the government would be left alone and the negative impressions clear.

The opposition has begun to press this "culture of deceit", "culture of secrecy" repetitive imprinting, designed to hammer the point to Canadians that the nature of this government is offensive. This decision by the Speaker, no matter what happens in the next two weeks, will be referenced for future use, another powerful example that tarnishes the government.

I will enjoy watching the government wiggle it's way out of this decision, because which every way they turn, it represents a net negative. Parliament is supreme, deal with it.

30 comments:

RuralSandi said...

So, will Harper begin the attacks on Milliken's integrity? That's his usual pattern?

One of the pundits said that only the Speaker can rule - not the Supreme Court?

Anthony said...

Hey Steve,

Do you think Harper now regrets telling Michaelle Jean to take a hike?

The irony is amusing.

Steve V said...

I honestly can't see any scenario where a visit to the GG comes, this is political death to force an election avoiding accountability. Who knows though, these ghessmasters thought nobody would notice last time.

Sandi

Wouldn't put anything past them, but other than hardcore conbots, the average Canadian won't take kindly to partisan attacks on the Speaker.

Anthony said...

I dunno Steve,

its the playoffs and nobody is paying attention. An election call now would be right around the time of the finals if not just before.

Maybe Harpo is a gambling man...

Steve V said...

That move would grab attention, or do we forget the prorogue decision. That x10 in my opinion. Harper has NO more political capital on this score, and honestly I would love for them to make this mistake. Might be our best chance.

Steve V said...

Judging by Nicholson's "statement", the Conservatives look lost.

DL said...

It seems to me that the simplest thing for the Tories would be to simply admit defeat, produce the documents and move on. There must be something very, very, very incriminating in those documents for them to have spent soooo much political capital on keeping them secret.

If the Tories refuse to budge than I say - let's go for an election PRONTO!

Steve V said...

" There must be something very, very, very incriminating in those documents for them to have spent soooo much political capital on keeping them secret."

I suppose that's the only reason they would continue to refuse, but even here, it reinforces the notion that there is something to hide. Lose/lose.

Jerry Prager said...

The best the conbots can muster in comments is to slag the opposition as traitors and security risks. This government has no legs to stand, even the much vaunted Canada did so well in the recession because of our banking system, plays against the Harpercons because it's a liberal system that Harper would have deregulated if he had a majority.
All the Libs need is to distill the idea fest and come up with some sensible policies and its off to the races, but heaven help them - and us all - if they play short on democracy, accountability and transparency after that.

Omar said...

I agree with what Don Martin just said on Power and Politics. I think Harper stands firm on handing over Afghan detainee documents, rolls the dice and triggers an election.

Steve V said...

Jerry

They have no choice but to take this issue to whatever conclusion the gov't chooses. I'd add, if they weren't prepared, then this rulling wouldn't have happened in the first place. In my mind, they passed the test with Lee.

Omar

Honestly, I know the Libs would like more time to develop a policy front that resonates, but if this is the hill Harper wants to fight from, I'd nimbly change tactics and oblige. This trigger could well be the best chance to beat Harper, it's not a winning issue. Sure, they can say it's about national security, but from what I've seen and read, Canadians still side with transparency. Add in innuendo about what exactly they are trying to hide, the political dynamic, and it's not exactly the type of message controlled campaign the Cons relish. I'm all hawk on this score, because the Cons will get it from all sides, and it's the same narrative.

Jerry Prager said...

The story of Canada in Afghanistan is just beginning to be told.
If Harper was wise, he would fall on his sword and give the party a chance to survive his fall from grace. Harper, however is cunning.
the tide of history however just rose all boats but his: there could be a palace coup. A transition to a new leader, and then an election. They would still lose. Labour and Liberalism defeated neo-corporatism in the commons today, and they did it on the bedrock of the constitution backed up by the anti-prorogue radicalized electorate, online power that caused Harper to come back to the House with a plan to make up for "lost time". His words "lost time." Harper is lost this time, he is about to become old news, where is he now ? One way or the other, his denouement approaches.

Tof KW said...

"If Harper was wise, he would fall on his sword and give the party a chance to survive his fall from grace.

Yes that would be the historically prudent way to go. Leadership change gives any party an instant new look, and (in theory) an argument all the old baggage has been tossed.

But this is Harper. He will not and it will be the CPC's downfall. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of goons.

Steve V said...

One thing to keep in mind, with this false election bravado coming from the Cons, they're not exactly in great shape. The Libs are nowhere, but if I just saw a poll putting the gov't at 29%, it's hardly juggernaut terrority. The odds are, REDUCED mandate, so let's just dispense with the chest thumping, because nobody should be afraid.

Jim said...

You Libs have written yourselves the perfect recipe for destruction.

An election could well happen over this issue and the CPC will win.

They control the paper...watch the way it flows...

Poor Liberal planning and indiscretion will surface first, and then we will have an election.

You will lose.

Hard.

Or the CPC will show the LPC what they are going to release and Iggy will put the brakes on this mess.

Try as I might, I can't find any confirmed Libs around the Lower Mainland. I can, however, find plenty of Dippers.

Meh, at least the socialists stand for something.

You Libs seem like a Chihuahua in the room.

Jim said...

I have to add, if this goes totally sideways and commons are allowed free access to government files...

...I want the truth about UFO's!

Gallahad said...

Jim is seeing pink elephants again.

Poor guy....

Marpman said...

What a brilliant and well thought-out ruling. His arguments about the transparency of parliament and the right to the information necessary to make sound decisions were excellent.
The Con government will probably ignore the ruling. I wonder if it is not that there is something in these documents, but more that they want to own the information. The control of information is power and by selectively releasing it they can dictate the message.
It is going to be a wild few days coming.

bubba said...

Many libs are wetting their pants tonite.I don't think the gov will defy the speaker and I think there is way less in the docs than you hope for and by the time a select committee gets done we will be out of Afghanistan though I agree it is a good ruling

marie said...

Jim; I have to add, if this goes totally sideways and commons are allowed free access to government files...

...I want the truth about UFO's!

So do I slien and I would like to see you get onboard of that UFO never to be heard of again. I don't think you would be missed either.

Bubba, I wonder who are the ones weting their pants tonight and crying in their booze. or should I say Timmys coffee with his timmys buddies and his hockey stick in hand.

Tof KW said...

Such bravado from the REEEform trolls tonight. You'd think they were doing better than 29% in the polls or something? Their MP's were certainly pretty quiet earlier.

Also I defended bubba over on BCL's blog after Sir Gallahad listed him as one of the trolls. Evidently he's mutated since we last crossed paths.

Gayle said...

"I know the Libs would like more time to develop a policy front that resonates, but if this is the hill Harper wants to fight from, I'd nimbly change tactics and oblige."

They would have been colossally stupid to have gone this far without preparing for an election. Surely they have learned by now you cannot push Harper to the brink and then back off.

It is not in Harper's nature, nor in his history, to back off. There will be either an inquiry or an election. Personally, as someone noted on Macleans today, I think Harper will stall this until the summer break, issue another series of ads with their truth distortions, and then call an election in the fall.

Gene Rayburn said...

TofKW I suspect someone from the CPoC bought bubba some lunch and sorted him out.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

#millikenrules is an interesting hashtag I’ve observed.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Someone might want to invent one dealing with burying the truth or something...
http://www.canada.com/news/Detainee%20transfer%20documents%20buried%20Canadian%20military%20shipping%20containers/2956945/story.html

Tof KW said...

Gene Rayburn said...
TofKW I suspect someone from the CPoC bought bubba some lunch and sorted him out.

Yes I've heard that story. So he's both cheap and easy? You know one can be either/or and still maintain dignity, but to be both is just plain sad.

bubba said...

just saying the crew here seems quite excited about the ruling. Almost a little too excited for not knowing whats in the docs.I think Harper was just protecting what the military leaders wanted him to.I've read libs talking about the public getting to see the docs. - not going to happen. It was a good ruling and by the time the results come in I'm guessing the military will be out and Harper will have achieved his goal. I think it was a good ruling and hope all parties impliment it in good faith.

Steve V said...

bubba

Actually, this has nothing to do with what's actually in those documents, or maybe more succinctly my "joy" isn't related to the information. It's about Parliamentary supremacy, and Conservatives should be just as happy that our democratic institution has been reinforced. For a party that wants an elected Senate, proposes this grassroots persona, it's hilarious that no of you have any problem with a not accountable EXECUTIVE thwarting the will of democratically elected representatives.

Gallahad said...

Since we are on the subject of accountability, I have an off topic question for Bubba.

The unelected Conservative dominated senate has now announced that they will not be supporting bill C-232, Godin's bill that would require all future Supreme court justices, be fluently billingual.

How does Bubba, or any other conservative feel about this?

Imagine that, the unelected conservative dominated senate is thwarting the will of the elected HOC.

This is an outrage, that any conservative who stands by their principles should be condemning in the strongest possible terms.

This was on BCL, yesterday but not one troll came on to defend their party.

Jerome Bastien came on BCL, but he is not a troll.

Steve, will you let any of your banned trolls come on here if they wish to defend the unelected conservative dominated senate thwarting the will of the elected HOC?

Jim, Rat, Wilson, Canadian Idiot, Rotterdam, Fred from BC, Frunger, et al allowed to do that?

Tof KW said...

bubba said...
”just saying the crew here seems quite excited about the ruling. Almost a little too excited for not knowing whats in the docs.I think Harper was just protecting what the military leaders wanted him to.I've read libs talking about the public getting to see the docs. - not going to happen.”

Thank you for proving you are not a troll bubba, I was trying to defend you yesterday at BCL’s blog. Please don’t let me down again with the kind of crap you posted at 11:43pm.

As Steve wrote, the thing everyone is excited about was that Milliken did not cave and ruled to preserve the supremacy of parliament. If he would have ruled that the executive has the right over a majority in the House of Commons, that would have had disastrous implications for the future of our democracy; and perhaps even infect other Westminster-style governments around the world?

Ever since King Charles was beheaded a few centuries ago, the whole basis of this institution is the ideal that when we commoners democratically elect a group of our peers into Parliament, they represent the direct will of the people. When those MPs vote in a majority decision, this the expressed will of the people above any executive, sovereign, or court. As you said bubba, this indeed is a good ruling; and should help guide Parliament for the next 100 years or so.

As for the rest of what you wrote, that’s all fair. I’m not sure what Liberals were saying all the documents would be available in the public domain (certainly none I read) but if true; well; all I can say is there are intellectually-challenged supporters in every political party.

I personally never had any doubts that there was information within the aforementioned documents which could breach national security. And to their credit, right from the beginning of this mess the opposition parties have always given suggestions to the government for how to deal with this matter. It was the Harper government who pigheadedly maintained this could not be done, and which seemed to suggest only the CPofC could be trusted with matters of national security.

Now, one could argue the Bloc is anti-Canadian, but the suggestion that the Libs or NDP are subversive and unpatriotic is, quite frankly, repugnant. And even though the Bloc would ultimately wish to break up this country, I highly doubt they would wish to pass along sensitive information to our enemies.

Somehow the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties got together, reviewed classified documents, and fought Hitler and the Nazis successfully. Why can’t our Parliamentarians now come together, review classified documents, and fight a group like the Taliban in an under-developed nation?

So in the end, Milliken made the right decision to reinforce the supremacy of Parliament. The ball is now in Stephen Harper’s court.

Will he wish to delay and pass this along to the Supreme Court? And be a hypocrite in the process after spending a good deal of his career attacking judges for usurping the rights of elected officials. Besides, ultimately the Supreme Court will recognize the supremacy of Parliament anyhow – they always have in the past – and we would find ourselves right back here again.

Will he try to be defiant, wrap himself in the flag and risk an election? This is a gamble at best, and the CPofC strategists know it.

Or maybe, just maybe, he can finally begin to start acting like a Prime Minister (versus a President) and begin to co-operate with Parliament.

He has two weeks to make that decision.