Thursday, February 08, 2007

On concerted efforts

The Globe and Mail reports that Ottawa conventional wisdom is turning in favour of a spring election rather than a delay until 2008 - which presumably nobody could have seen coming. And PoliticsWatch reports that the Cons and Bloc are teaming up to try to put the screws to the Libs in anticipation:
A Commons committee appears headed to launch hearings into the discrepancies in the testimony of a number former Liberal cabinet ministers, staffers and public servants who appeared before the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.

Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs, who combined have enough votes to control the public accounts committee, want to recall a number of witnesses who appeared before both Gomery and the public accounts committee to explain the discrepancies in their testimony.

The Commons law clerk said it could mark the first time in the history of Parliament that a committee investigated possible perjury.

Another set of parliamentary hearings into the sponsorship scandal with numerous faces from the Chretien era is probably the last thing the Liberals and new leader Stephane Dion want in the coming months with a possible spring election looming on the horizon.

The MPs met Wednesday afternoon to discuss a report from the Library of Parliament that compared discrepancies in the testimony of a number of witnesses.

The specific names of those witnesses mentioned in the report were not discussed at the meeting.

The committee plans to meet later behind closed doors to go over the report and vote on who to recall before the committee.
Now, there doesn't seem to be much good reason to rehash the testimony from the standpoint of the public interest. After all, with a report already available, criminal charges gradually trickling out from the sponsorship scheme, and an inquiry (featuring assessments of credibility) already done on the subject, there doesn't seem to be any reasonable prospect of uncovering new or meaningful information.

But then, there's the political side of things, where information-free grandstanding has always been a higher priority for the Cons than actually governing well. And a move to push back into the media the faces the Libs would like can only hurt their position in any upcoming election - or perhaps even force the Libs to buckle under on a budget vote in order to let the newest aftershock of the sponsorship scandal fade before any trip to the polls. Which, given the Cons' seeming intransigence on the environment, may soon be the most likely scenario that doesn't lead to a spring election.

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