Friday, May 21, 2010

Preston Manning: the re-branding continues

Hey Presto - are you for real? I know, I know, you REALLY wanna be an "elder statesman" now, but asking what is the answer to "our unruly Question Period" simply says to me that you have zero grasp of the concept of irony. Either that or you're a big fat liar. I ask you - who is it that turned not just QP but the entire HoC and all its committees into a nasty partisan slug-fest? Look no further than your own party.

"When 52 Reform Party members were elected to the House of Commons in 1993, we sought, from the position of the third party, to make the Question Period more civil and productive."

Oops, excuse me, I just spewed coffee all over my keyboard - I'll be with you in a sec.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, you were bemoaning that lack of civility in QP, when it was the CPC that WROTE THE BOOK on political wrangling. Back in 2007 we learned of a manual issued by the CPC's -- a how-to guide on disruption. It's a 200-page binder filled with strategies from ways to grind committees to a halt, interrupt unfavourable witnesses, then walk out on or suspend committees once they became "disruptive". This story first broke in 2007 but the techniques are still being used, particularly with with regard to the Afghan detainee issue.

Some of highlights of Disruption for Dummies include:

- 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 manoeuvre used to kick-start 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.

Then CPC whip Jay Hill had this to say "I hope we can come back and restore civility. The whole thing is getting absurd and ridiculous."

Sound familiar? It should. It's the same line of BS you're trotting out now.

If you really think Question Period needs to become "more civil, production and newsworthy" there's a simple answer: take your rabid Conservative attack dogs back to that Alberta tailings pond you crawled out of.
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