Friday, May 18, 2007

Conservative Monkeywrench Manual

Hat tip to Creekside.

Yesterday Stephen Harper complained that the opposition parties were solely responsible for the committee paralysis gripping the Hill. Today Don Martin described the 200 page procedural dirty tricks guide distributed to Conservative committee chairs that had been leaked to him.

Among it's contents:
• That the Conservative party helps pick committee witnesses. The chairman "should ensure that witnesses suggested by the Conservative Party of Canada are favourable to the government and ministry," the document warns.

• The chairmen should also seek to "include witnesses from Conservative ridings across Canada" and make sure their local MPs take the place of a member at the committee when a constituent appears, to show they listen and care.

• The chairmen should "meet with witnesses so as to review testimony and assist in question preparation."

• Procedural notes tell the chairmen to always recognize a Conservative member just before a motion is put to a vote "and let them speak as long as they wish" - a maneuver used to kickstart a filibuster as a stall tactic.

• Chairmen are told to notify all affected ministries prior to a motion being voted upon. "Communicate concerns with the Prime Minister's Office, House Leader or Whip," the document insists. "Try to anticipate the response of the press and how party could be portrayed."

• The guide says a "disruptive" committee should be adjourned by the chairman on short notice. "Such authority is solely in the discretion of the chair. No debate, no appeal possible." By failing to appoint the vice chair to run the meeting, the adjournment will last until the chair is ready to reconvene the committee.

The government's defense for this deliberate abuse of procedural combat as articulated by Government whip Jay Hill:
"Canadians elected a Conservative minority government, not a coalition of opposition parties."
Yes Jay, a minority government, and one of the well known features of a minority government is that it needs to make alliances to survive. And if it's ideologically and pathologically incapable of cooperating with any of the other representatives of the more than six out of ten Canadian voters who didn't vote Conservative?

Then you can't govern and shouldn't complain when other people try to take up the slack.

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