University of Toronto
3 min

Parties planning for an unofficial January 25th return

Slowly but surely, parties are getting organised on a message of just how they plan to respond to the Harper’s undermining Parliamentary democracy through his latest prorogation. When I spoke to NDP House Leader Libby Davies, she said that her party hasn’t made a final decision on what they’ll do (they’ll discuss it during their caucus retreat at the end of the month), but they will do plan some kind of a response.

The Liberals, however, have been given their orders. Michael Ignatieff told them in a conference call that they are still expected to show up in Ottawa for January 25th. There, they’ll engage in activities like holding roundtables with experts on a variety of issues, and do some work. They may even hold another “informal” committee session into the Afghan detainee issue like they did when the Conservatives decided to boycott said committee before they shut it down entirely by prorogation. What the Liberals won’t do, they say, is engage in any cheap partisan activities such as staging photo ops which show them banging on the “locked doors” of the House (which I believe are actually thrown open for the sake of tour groups) or anything that would be dismissed as a stunt.

It’s an effort that should be commended – even if the best Ignatieff has done to date is write a sternly worded letter – err, op-ed. But oh, how Canadian is the sternly worded letter… The biggest gist is that he’s not about to call an election over it because he’s “learned his lesson” that Canadians don’t want one. That doesn’t mean that Harper won’t try to engineer one – despite his protests that he doesn’t want one either. But Harper is also a big fan of putting poison pills in things like budgets, inviting his own defeat so that he can try once again for a majority.

The CBC’s intrepid blogger Kady O’Malley takes a look at the Order Paper of the Parliament that just died, and lo, it appears that the government was the one holding up its own legislation, not the opposition. Fancy that!

Fair Vote Canada has a letter signed by 132 political scientists around the country calling for “action on the democratic deficit.” Because apparently the fix for all of our democratic ills is proportional representation. Erm, except that they still suffer from the same declining voter turnout in countries that have PR, and they have all kinds of other Parliamentary dysfunction in countries with coalition governments, like PR would guarantee.

A Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus at York University examines the government’s refusal to turn over documents related to the Afghan detainees, calls bullshit on the government’s reasons for refusing to turn them over and cites historical precedents for when papers were compelled to be released, or redactions were overturned in the Federal Court, and lo and behold, redactions had nothing to do with national security but rather to keep embarrassing facts out of the public eye. This government’s actions continue to make them look like they do indeed have something to hide.

In the event that you were at all curious about whether the last round of Liberal leadership contenders have paid off their leadership debts, well the answer is no – six of them, including Dion, have been granted one last extension to pay them off. Scott Brison has paid his off, however. I remember being at an event a couple of years ago when Brison joked that his then-fiancée Maxime St Pierre was going to have to pay for the wedding as he had spent all his money on the leadership.

PS – If you want to watch George Stroumboulopoulos’ chat with Andrew Coyne from Monday, the video is posted here. For his rant about “sneaky, greasy politics,” however, you’ll have to watch the full episode, and it happens around the 23-minute mark. I’m just glad that someone is at least engaged about the issue, and is trying to engage other Canadians.
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