Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Last week, I pointed out Joe Comartin's valiant attempt to make sure that the Cons couldn't ram through a bill by refusing to provide information they'd promised to the opposition parties - as well as the subsequent disappointment when the Libs voted to rush the bill through anyway. Well, the story seems to have come to a close with an admission that generally looks to have been noticed nowhere other than on the pages of Hansard:
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I am rising in response to a point of privilege that was raised by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh related to information that he sought at parliamentary committee from the head of the Correctional Service of Canada, Mr. Don Head. This information was to be conveyed by Mr. Head on a timely basis for consideration before the matter was dealt with in Parliament. It was provided to my office. It was conveyed to the hon. member and to others. However, that was not done on the timely basis it should have been done. There is in fact no good reason why it was not done on a timely basis, and for that reason I come before you to apologize unreservedly to the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and to the House for the failure to provide those documents. While he did have them early enough, they were not conveyed in the proper fashion and it should have been done properly and I apologize for that.
Now, Van Loan conspicuously avoided saying when the documents actually were passed along, or offering any explanation as to why they were sent to his office for vetting in the first place. But at the very least, Van Loan's statement yesterday confirms that the Cons' failure to provide promised information prevented the opposition from doing its job in properly vetting the bill.

Unfortunately, that also offers a signal that the Libs' decision reflects an abdication of their own role in holding the government to account for wrongs that even the Cons can't avoid acknowledging now. Indeed, if anything the Libs' actions send a signal that the Cons are better off covering up everything they can in the short term and daring the opposition parties to do anything about it, rather than allowing anybody on opposition benches to do their job in the first place. And it shouldn't come as much surprise if the Cons end up stonewalling even more than they might have otherwise on the Afghan detainee file and other issues as a result.

Update: Fixed timeline - it seemed longer than a week ago that the issue first arose, but apparently not.

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