Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blast From the Past

Finally, an update on the Afghan detainee document front. Well, not an update per se, unless of course nothingness is considered noteworthy. It was almost a year ago this "fight" for Parliamentary supremacy began, now FIVE months since the gigantic victory, the day when the government supposedly caved. I took some flack for my negativity, my view that the government was merely trying to run out the clock, delay further, this "victory" not so easily discerned. In fact, I thought the Conservatives had managed to wiggle off the hook, the process served their interests well- get this issue off the table.

A few blast from the past postings:

From my post "Nothings Settled" May 2010:

"I see stalling tactics, no true resolution for months and months. In fact, this process doesn't even begin until this Parliamentary session is almost over, then we have summer break, leaving the real debate until the fall. If you believe an election is probable by the next budget, it's entirely reasonable to suggest the government has effectively buried this issue until after the next vote. It's for this reason, that I find it hard to get terribly excited about this agreement- and it also helps to explain why the government agreed."

From my post "Detainee Deal A Dud" June 2010:

"Speaking of time, if you believe my thesis, wherein the government wants to take this issue off the table prior to the next election (I see no realistic scenario where this Parliament survives another budget), you are left with a troubling clause. This agreement is only binding on this Parliament, meaning the government must resign said understanding after any election. Let's just fast forward for a second. We have an election, and the opposition demands a restart, more signatures. The government simply refuses, and what recourse does the opposition have? Threaten another election, re-introduce motions, start from scratch AGAIN? Plus, say we do get a few tidbit releases of documents, all the more reason for the government to argue it's a new mandate, time to move on from this discussion. ZERO political appetite for immediate conflict, the issue likely fades to black (no pun intended). What a terrific clause for the government, just drag this all out until an election, and you very well could be home free. This clause will look more relevant as time passes, and people digest the gamesmanship that unfolds."

Now read this revelation in today's update on the "progress":
Wilfert declined to guess when the first documents might finally be tabled in Parliament for public consumption. But he said committee members are seized with a sense of urgency, well aware that the process could be disrupted by a possible spring election.

Amazing. We are being played for fools, the government is running out the clock, it's been months with NADA, NOTHING, NOT ONE DOCUMENT has seen the light of day- not even the most benign to placate.

Make no mistake, the Conservatives won, the NDP had it right. Nobody cares about this issue anymore, this is the first time anyone has bothered to ask since Parliament returned. The issue is stale, their is zero urgency, when we get to the contentious stuff, nobody will have any appetite to put the detainee question back on the front burner. That Wilfret even entertains a spring election "disruption" is frankly stunning, given this deal is DEAD with that reality. Played, and played bad, sorry to say...

Christmas break here we come.


ottlib said...

The diminuation of Parliament in our political system began with Trudeau and his successors have continued and increased that situation, with the current head of government taking it to extremes.

So it should not come as any surprise that the documents have not been released and I would say that the chances of them being released are very slim regardless of what Parliament does. In fact, that was the case months ago as well.

What Parliament did accomplish with that deal you do not like is prevent the government from saying no to it outright. They did assert the principle of Parliamentary supremacy and the government backed down. It certainly is not the victory you were looking for but it provides Parliament with a continued foothold of relevance in our political system that I hope the successor to the current government leader will expand when the time comes.

If that does not happen then these documents not being released will be small beer compared to the final and permanent relegation of our House of Commons to being nothing more than a body to rubber stamp government legislation like the Senate.

As well, do not underestimate the negative impact the whole Afghan detainee controversy had on the Conservatives' political fortunes. That controversy lasted almost six months and the government handled it very badly. It has damaged them and without it the Fake Lake, F-35 purchase and the Census fiasco would not have had the negative impact on the Conservatives that they have had.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Excellent post. You were indeed right, as things stand. However, you are wrong about one thing: there are quite a few serious people who cared, care, and will continue to care about this. The committee and panel, the three parties, would be well-advised to demonstrate some of this publicised good faith by getting documents out there, posthaste. One assumes they understand there are consequences for actions. So maybe not all is lost, yet. Maybe they will indeed get around to releasing the docs, soonish. They'd be smart to do so.