Absolutely disgusting and from a government that ran on “accountability and transparency”. I always said a government under Harper would be garbage for this country. I honestly don’t care who anyone votes for other than the current leadership. To convince me however that Harper is a Conservative in the definition of what we have known within our history as “Canadian Conservatism” is like convincing me a can of beans is a can of peaches simply because you ripped off the peaches label and poorly taped it over the can of beans.
Manual called proof of 'control fetish'
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
May 18, 2007 at 10:43 PM EDT
Ottawa — A manual telling Conservative chairs of Commons committees how to stick to the party agenda — and to obstruct or end meetings when the debate turns hostile to the government — is proof that parliamentary dysfunction is being orchestrated by the Conservatives, opposition members charged Friday.
Conservative Whip Jay Hill refused to return phone calls about the 200-page manual, which caused an uproar in the House after its existence was revealed in a published report Friday. But the government did not deny that such a guidebook had been handed out to its committee chairs.
"We learned this morning that Conservative committee chairmen have received a manual that tells them how to create chaos to avoid dealing with subjects that displease the government. It suggests interrupting witnesses or engaging in systematic obstruction or leaving unexpectedly, to block work," Bloc Québécois MP Monique Guay said during Question Period.
"Isn't this handbook proof that the paralysis that has struck the access-to-information committee … and the standing committee on the official languages is anything but accidental — that it is deliberately controlled by the Office of the Prime Minister?"
Don Martin: Tories have book on political wrangling
By Don Martin, National Post
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2007
Ottawa • A secret guidebook that details how to unleash chaos while chairing parliamentary committees has been given to select Tory MPs.
Running some 200 pages including background material, the document - given only to Conservative chairmen - tells them how to favour government agendas, select party-friendly witnesses, coach favourable testimony, set in motion debate-obstructing delays and, if necessary, storm out of meetings to grind parliamentary business to a halt.
The binder fell into my hands yesterday, two days after government whip Jay Hill called chairmen to his office for a refresher course on advancing the government agenda over opposition objections.
A source at that meeting confided that Mr. Hill "lavished praise on the chairs who caused disruptions and admonished those who prefer to lead through consensus" - an interpretation the whip strongly denies.
But the document does illustrate a government preference for manipulative tactics and proves that the chairmen are under intense supervision from the powers above.
Its tactics also fly in the face of yesterday's complaint by Stephen Harper that opposition parties are solely responsible for the committee paralysis now breaking out on Parliament Hill as the summer recess approaches.
It paints in vivid detail what Conservative chairs should say when confronted by challenges to their authority, how to rule opposition MPs out of order during procedural wrangling and even tells government MPs how to debate at committee when a hostile motion is put to a vote.
The manual offers up speeches for a chairman under attack and suggests committee leaders have been whipped into partisan instruments of policy control and agents of the Prime Minister's Office.
Among the more heavy-handed recommendations in the document:
• 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.