I suppose it could be considered quite a coup for some, but probably not those who think they scored the points. Jack Layton and the NDP probably think they scored one for democracy: they believe that by demanding a vote on the Libyan deployment in the House of Commons, they’ve struck a blow for parliamentary oversight – as if this wasn’t a misunderstanding and indeed misuse of the term. And hey, Layton demanded some amendments to the government’s resolution and got them. Score one for Jack! And hey, the government even threw in an extra $2 million for humanitarian aid to sweeten the deal. John Baird can probably claim this as his first major victory as the minister of foreign affairs, securing this deal in the Commons for his party’s good. But the person who actually scored the coup was Stephen Harper.
Thanks to Layton and his demand for a vote, Harper has just given up accountability for the Libya mission because it’s no longer his fault. The moment something goes wrong, he can simply shrug and say, “Hey, you guys voted on it. Don’t look at me, not my fault.” He can’t say that it was a unanimous decision because Elizabeth May, concerned about mission creep and no exit strategy, voted against it. The irony, as was pointed out by University of Ottawa professor Philippe Lagassé (and distilled by Kady O’Malley), is that Parliament actually loses when it agrees to be consulted by the executive. They no longer have the power to hold the executive to account because they agreed to the decision, thus accepting the blame.
So, score one for Layton. He has just managed to make his already weakened Opposition that much weaker by giving up the ability to hold the government to account. Score one for Harper for letting Layton walk right into it.
Elsewhere, Bob Rae held a press conference yesterday to slam the Conservative “double standard” of ministers allowing their own office spending to rise while preaching cuts elsewhere.
The CBC has a really interesting piece about the way we re-deploy soldiers who’ve suffered PTSD. While it's done after treatment, there are those who say that treatment is not enough for some cases. But hey, apparently we’re doing much better than the Americans on that front, if we believe what they’re telling us.