The Speaker Speaks
Afghan records denial breaches privilege: Speaker
The federal government breached parliamentary privilege with its refusal to produce uncensored documents related to the treatment of Afghan detainees and must provide the material to MPs within two weeks, Speaker Peter Milliken has ruled.
During his lengthy ruling Tuesday afternoon in the House, Milliken called on House leaders, ministers and MPs to find a "workable accommodation" to satisfy all parties "without compromising the security and confidentially contained."
Milliken ruled Parliament had a right to order the government to produce uncensored documents to members of a special committee examining torture allegations, and that its order was "clear" and procedurally acceptable.
So now we wait and see how Harper plays this. The only indication so far is this Rob Nicholson quote (and Stephen Taylor tweet): “We welcome the possibility of a compromise while respecting our legal obligations".
Should they continue to balk...well...I won't even begin to speculate on what happens next.
Politically, the challenge for the opposition parties will be framing this as something more than a 39-page rulling that quotes 19th Century parliamentary procedures of the territorial legislature of New South Wales. I'm not saying that stuff is over the head off most voters - I'm saying it's over the head of all voters not named "Peter Milliken".
Prorogation only had an impact because a complicated procedural move was framed as Stephen Harper going on vacation. In much the same way, for this to even have a dent on public opinion, it will need to be framed as something more than a complicated procedural move. Harper's arrogance. He thinks he's above the law. Those might work.
But it's gonna be a tough one to sell. Which is why, as I said earlier today, I doubt this will lead to an election.