Report: Canadian Government Could be found in Contempt of Parliament

A Commons committee has recommended the current Canadian government be found in contempt of Parliament, but the ruling party, Conservatives, have a chance of a historic censure if a vote on the budget or other events launch an election first.

The Commons procedure and house affairs committee tabled a majority report Monday concluding that the government is "in contempt" for continually refusing to disclose information about the cost of several major legislative items. They are referring to documents related to the cost of several items including its law-and-order agenda, corporate tax cuts and a plan to buy stealth combat jets. All of the opposition members of Parliament on the committee voted to condemn the government for withholding the requested documents without giving "adequate reasons" for doing so.

"This is an unprecedented cascade of abuse," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said during a press conference on Monday. He detailed various alleged abuses including scandals involving influence peddling and election fraud, in addition to contempt. "The issue here is one of trust. How can Canadians remain trusting of a government guilty of such flagrant abuse of power?"

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton said he he will wait for the budget before deciding to support the government, but admitted that the contempt charge adds another layer to the whole situation.

"The committee has found the government in contempt and that’s a very serious finding," Layton told reporters. "There’s no doubt it makes it more difficult to operate around here when you’re dealing with a government that’s so contemptuous of Canadians."

If the report is adopted by lawmakers it would mark the first time in Canada’s history that the government has been found in contempt of Parliament. Hypothetically, an adoption of this report could mean jail time for the government.

On March 10 Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed House Speaker Peter Milliken’s comments that led to three days of contempt hearings as part of "the game of democratic politics."

All of this aside, this report could have the effect of pushing any other important legislation out for years. For example, votes on the copyright reform bill, C-32, will not happen for a long time, and a possible spring election could further complicate things.


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  1. 0
    Inimical says:

    Agreed on the last part of your post.

    For those interested, the budget has been rejected by the opposition and the Financial Minister, Jim Flaherty has refused to amend it. It looks like a non-confidence vote could come very soon, especially given the fact that they have been found in contempt of parliament. Harper is being very strategic, as he has said he will not disband parliament (he knows Canadians do not want another election). If Ignatieff decides to go ahead, I have a feeling we’ll end up in yet another minority government because I don’t think the Conservatives that far ahead in the polls. 

  2. 0
    kurifu says:

    If our current government is not found in contempt, it is likely going to have its budget voted down which means we see another election in the next couple of weeks. If either of the circumstances should occur and parliament is shut down Bill C-32 will be killed (for the third time). It will need to be re-introduced as a new bill if they want to bring it back.

    Being found in contempt, or having the budget voted down, really are not game related issues though. Would have been better to focus on what this meant for the bill IMO. 

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