04.27.2010 03:29 PM

Um, er…

…I said the Speaker would “cave.” He didn’t! I was wrong! I was wrong! Ya-hoo!

Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I owe Peter Milliken, who my mother adores, an apology. And I owe James Bowie, student-at-law, a lunch at the Japanese place.

Now, a fortnight hence, if the Reformatories flip the bird in the direction of Parliament again, and Mr. Milliken asks that everyone come together and be nice to each other, yet again, then lunch is on you, Mr. Bowie.

Until then, I stand before you, a chastened man.

(And, impossibly, a little bit hopeful that we may still have a functioning democracy, here.)

(Norman’s take, always worth reading, here.)

(And Susan has a fascinating little exchange with Derek Lee on what lies ahead.)


  1. Elizabeth says:

    I had faith – I never thought he’d cave. He couldn’t cave, there is no way. It would just be wrong.
    Maybe now they’ll do a better job of teaching Social in schools.

  2. Jymn says:

    There are times when it is good to be chastened!

  3. allegra fortissima says:

    quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur!

  4. Catherine says:

    Is there a blue moon?

  5. Michael Watkins says:

    I did not believe Milliken would cave either. I’ve followed the arguments of Derek Lee for some months now and the matter has always seemed very clear. Not only that, should the Speaker have ruled otherwise, he would be setting in place a very dangerous precedent that could haunt the issue of parliamentary privilege for decades if not forever.

    I have to believe that Milliken and his advisers are well aware of Harper’s penchant for moving the line in the parliamentary sand to a place which is less and less Canadian in nature.

    Harper has shown numerous times that he is keen to set precedents that set in motion far-reaching, and in my opinion, dangerous, potential change to our parliamentary traditions.

    To my great relief today Harper lost one battle, but he has won others.

    For example, in his first act as PM in 2006 he put unelected senators into cabinet, despite clearly promising to Montrealers during the campaign to not do so. Appointing Fortier and LeBreton to cabinet did not establish a new precedent but did reinforce an bad one already on the books. In that same first Conservative cabinet we learned Harper had entered into secret negotiations with David Emerson before the ink was dry on the polling station returns, a shocking move which required Emerson to abandon every promise he made to his constituents in order to join the Harper cabinet. Unprecedented in all of Canadian history, this move set a new and troubling precedent that calls into question the value of campaigns, our votes, and our democracy.

    There is linkage between the two cases, as both provided Harper the opportunity to nudge Canada closer to the day where an appointed, rather than an elected, cabinet one day rules the country.

    I’m a democrat rather than a partisan and it was these moves (and many others since) that prevent me from supporting the conservatives.

    Three cheers for Milliken.

    (And maybe the two weeks was more for the opposition’s benefit than the government side.)

  6. Elizabeth says:

    If he had favoured Harper, then there would be the tiny upside of the next PM, hopefully Ignatieff, having a lot of power to change a lot of things; IF there was another election, ever.

    Milliken is a good man – might be a milquetoast, but “the meek shall inherit the earth”; I thought he shot a few meaningful glances throughout.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Did you see that? Harper didn’t even stay. I wonder at what point he left, and what was his reason? Besides arrogance, and his resistance to being told what to do.

  8. Eugene Parks says:

    I did not leave it to faith, or hope, or guessing, or echo chamber chats… to every newspaper in the country, published in many, a fight for right was engaged:


    fuller version:


    The battle is far far from over. Mr. Harper stands willfully in opposition to democracy and he will continue to fight as hard as he can.

    So, don’t stop standing up to him now… stay engaged!

  9. Iris Mclean says:

    Seems that Milliken has grown some ‘nads, and has finally done what had to be done.
    King Steve has been demoted to prime minister. Must be quite a come-down.

  10. James Bow says:

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

  11. Steve T says:

    Assuming the government turns over the documents as instructed (they’d better), it will be very interesting to see what the opposition does with them, and what “smoking guns” are in the documents.

    My guess? This is going to be the most anti-climactic moment in Canadian history. Not that the opposition won’t try to make numerous mountains out of molehills – but I think the reality will be that very little of any interest to average Canadians will be uncovered.

  12. MJH says:

    Keep in mind that sworn MPs who read the documents will not be able to speak to anyone in public or private about what they learn. What good will it do them in the detainee issue?

    • james smith says:

      I’ve wondered why the present PM has worked so hard & blown so much political capital on this file if it was “just” national security. There must be something in these docs. that is very bad politically for this person who is presently the PM.

      If this is so, I would think that those who see the documents & find (whatever it is) could inform their leaders & us that as a result of their investigation there can be no confidence in the present PM’s ministry & suggest the next administration undertake steps X Y & Z to inform the nation & right the wrong.

  13. Tceh says:

    Could the Liberals grow some and apply Milliken’s ruling to the Income Trust fiasco of 3 1/2 years ago? Jim Flaherty’s use of blacked out documents in January 07 was a dry run for Harper’s later use of the same tactic on the Afghan detainee issue.

    Nailing Canadian Seniors who invested in the Income Trust sector cost $35 billion in market value and was Harper’s first use of blacked out documents and nobody was willing to do much about it at the time…how about now?


    Harper never released his tax leakage numbers because it would reveal the farce of his argument. CAITI has been saying it for years now it’s time for the Liberals to step up and use the Milliken ruling to look into this matter.

    Retirement income reform is important to y’all right?

  14. Sean says:

    …one can only hope that the Tories try to force an election on the Conservative Party’s right to hide secret documents…

    …on annother note… Ignatieff’s rural policy… Is this the first time in four years that the LPC has made a serious policy proposal which wasn’t *a little too smart assed* and which wasn’t dumped on by every other party? Is Iggy finally getting it?

    …this is shaping up to be an interesting week…

  15. Ian says:

    Time for the 18 blacked out pages of Income Trust mythical tax leakage to be uncovered…tgat was Harper’s first cover up under the guise of national security.

  16. William says:

    Wow, soon we will be able to show how evil Canadians were to Afghans and they will be very happy to know that our government made sure that they got beat up. They will thank us so much, stab a few of us in the back and cheer the coffins.

  17. Darrell says:

    I’m all for this transparency stuff, but I’m still loyal to PM Chretien and I hate to see him hung so Mr. Ignatieff can be PM.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Chretien doesn’t want to BE PM any more!

  19. Elizabeth says:

    Ignatieff has had the (rural) ideas all along. It’s just taken time to get streamlined and focused. I have no doubt that he has more ideas like this one – but getting the message out is harder than it should be.

    Norm Spector told us a while ago that the PM is definitely supreme, that our Parliament is not like the others — and I disagreed. I’m so glad he was wrong. Totally wrong.

  20. MCBellecourt says:

    I applaud House Speaker Milliken on his decision. Now, Mr. Ignatieff needs to be careful not to give Harper enough leeway as to allow Harper to manipulate the process–and Harper is a rabid opportunist and will look for any opening, regardless how tiny–and run with it.

    It’s going to be a long two weeks.

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