Friday, April 30, 2010

Speaker Peter Milliken and my car.

I own a car. For the sake of argument, let's imagine that I don't take terrifically good care of it. Maybe I should wash it more often. Change the oil more frequently. Touch up those growing rust spots, that sort of thing. Sure, that would be nice, but in the end, it's my car -- I own it and, ultimately, I am the final voice of authority when it comes to what is to be done to it and with it. With me so far?

One day my car is stolen. I report it to the authorities and, in short order, they locate it and tell me where to come get it from the thief's property. I show up and, sure enough, an officer is there, as well as the thief, who is, oddly, working on my car in his driveway. OK, that's weird, I think, but I'm happy to be getting my wheels back. At which point, things get a bit strange.

I go up to the officer and the thief, fully expecting to reclaim my property, but the thief is telling the officer that, you know, I don't take proper care of my car and that's a shame. If it were him, things would be different. And the officer, bizarrely, is nodding his head in agreement. I demand my car back. The thief counters that, if he's allowed to keep it, it will get better care. What the fuck?

It's my car, I bellow to the officer. Mine. Yes, yes, he understands that and no one is disputing the ownership, but maybe, if the thief and I can work something out -- perhaps a compromise of some kind -- I can get the car most of the time, while he can have it on weekends in exchange for doing maintenance. While I stand there, stunned, the officer tells me that he'll give us a couple weeks to see if we can't come to some kind of arrangement, then walks away.

Are you starting to see why I think Speaker Peter Milliken is such a useless ass?

The resolution of my car issue is based on only one thing -- ownership. I own it, therefore, I can do with it what I will. It doesn't matter if someone else thinks they can do a better job, and that they will clean it, and polish it, and love it, and call it "George." Nobody gives a fuck about any of that. My car. Ownership trumps all. And now you see how badly Peter Milliken fucked up that recent ruling on the Afghan detainee documents.

All he had to do was rule on a point of privilege. That's it. That's all. No one wanted to know any more from him than that. No one wanted 45 minutes of patronizing, fatherly soliloquy. What they wanted was simply this definitive sentence:

"The Chair must conclude that it is within the powers of the House of Commons to ask for the documents sought in the December 10 order it adopted."

That's it. All Milliken needed was to say those words, and finish with, "OK, we're done here, thanks for coming." Finished. Rule for the Opposition, then check his watch to see if he could still make Happy Hour down at the Golden Corral. But, no, he couldn't shut the fuck up, and proceeded to, well, fuck things up by waffling all over the goddamned place:

Now, it seems to me, that the issue before us is this: is it possible to put into place a mechanism by which these documents could be made available to the House without compromising the security and confidentiality of the information they contain? In other words, is it possible for the two sides, working together in the best interest of the Canadians they serve, to devise a means where both their concerns are met?

Shut the hell up, Peter. No one asked you to pass judgment on who you thought might look after that information better, or who might treat it more deferentially, or who might stroke it, and love it, and call it "George." All you were asked to do, Peter, was rule on a point of privilege, then shut the fucking hell up. But, no, it was just too tempting to yammer on tediously about compromise and playing nice and who were the more responsible adults.

That's why Peter Milliken pooched this ruling so monstrously. He had the chance to keep it short and sweet and definitive. Instead, he told the Opposition that, well, sure it was their car, but let's see if we can't come to an amicable time-sharing arrangement with the guy who stole it. Dumb bastard. And given how stupidly waffly Milliken was, I will bet my left nad that it is exactly that waffling that will be the hook on which the Harpercrats will hang their inevitable argument that they won't be handing anything over. Because Milliken gave them an out.

You think I overreact? Who wants to take that bet? Who wants a piece of that action? I'll give you odds.

P.S. Check back in at most a week and a half to learn that I am, once again, absolutely right about absolutely everything all of the time. It's a curse.


Michael said...

Nicely done. But change the proverbial thief into a repo man and the owner into one that is delinquent in his payments, and then I believe you'll have the appropriate analogy.

Perhaps if people got off their collective asses, paid their "bills", and showed some sort of interest in how their government is supposed to work this kind of shit wouln't happen.

CC said...

I don't see how your proposed, revised analogy holds, even remotely.

Michael said...

Ok, then. What I'm trying to say is that so many Canadians are "delinquent" in keeping them selves informed, (not "paying the bills" as it were) on how crucial issues like these are and what they mean that due to their ignorance, the proverbial "repo men" (The Tories) are able to use (and have used) this as an excuse to do what they have done, what they are doing now, and what they plan on doing - taking away our car forever.

900ft Jesus said...

Dead on. Steve is already setting the tone for that argument by acting like he has the final word on how the information relating to the detainee issue will be handled. He will consider, he will decide, and there's the inevitable Harper "but" in which he uses security and the safety of the troops as false shields acting as though he is the sole guardian of both.

As for the repo comment - I can't see how that fits either since Parliament is not in contempt but the guy who failed to pay is at fault, and a repo dude, as slimy as he may be is conducting legal business unlike harper who has been found in contempt by witholding documents.

Metro said...

Bang on.

Harper came out the gate after the ruling saying that the govenrment was teddibly, teddibly, anxious to help in any way it could "within the law."

Which is purest, clearest, one-hundred-twenty-proof bullshit.

Had he been remotely interested in complying with the law, he'd have obeyed it in the first place by recognizing the authority of Parliament and turning over the documents rather than asserting his authority to close Parliament and turning tail.

Milliken doesn't seem to have been paying attention. With Harperites you have to act as though you've caught the dog making a mess in the house: Rub his nose in it, point out precisely what he did wrong, and explain how it's gonna go from now on.

The lesson has not been learnt, and while people are wishy-washy with these dingbats, it will continue not to be.

theo said...

No, I think you’re wrong on this CC. Milliken did what every politician is his position should do. It is up to the Opposition to play hard ball with the harpercritters. They either get what they want or they throw it back to the Speaker saying the government is intransigent and will not compromise. Milliken has already pointed out his ruling in that case will be against government and that contempt charges will be laid against the minister(s) responsible.

CC said...

Luckily, theo, in less than two weeks, we'll know which of us is correct.

Scotian said...

While I understand your point, and I understand your analogy, I think it is flawed in regards to Milliken's position/role. It is not as simple for him as you seem to think it is. while yes, the only possible ruling given the precedents involved is that Harper's government is totally in the wrong, it is not the Speaker's job to simply make rulings but to also do all he can to smooth the functioning of the House between the various parties, especially in a minority situation. This is the heart of his position, and if he had done as you want he would not have been fufillng that position properly, which was why I was so happy with the ruling and still am.

Now, in terms of how the Harper government is reacting to it, well on that score I suspect you are right, but Milliken cannot act like a partisan, which is what acting in the manner you wanted to see would have been far too easily done by the Harper government and their shrieking chorus in the land. He had to defend the right of Parliament to see the documents, which he did, he had to defend the propriety and neutrality of his Office while doing so, which he did, and this ruling was loaded with the clearest set of precedent listing why Parliament's powers are supreme over a government's in our history to date. That makes it incredibly important.

That the Harper government is going to continue to act in the irresponsible manner it is he cannot help, nor can he allow it to change what his duties and obligations are as Speaker no matter how much more satisfying and/or politically cleaner it would be if he had been short and to the point. That however is not his role. That is why I cannot agree with you and your analogy in this matter where the Speaker is concerned.

That said, as far as how Harper is going to run with it is clear and there I think you are right on the money, but I guarantee you that if Harper does not show the Speaker that he accepts that the House is supreme in deciding what documents are to be seen and what are not he rule continue to rule against Harper, he cannot dodge behind the claim that he has to follow laws passed in the House, the Speaker already shredded that argument in his ruling and has shown that he will continue to do so. That Harper continues to do that to the public is one thing, and typical of him and his utter contempt for Parliament and the people, but the Speaker has already shown he will not accept the argument and that he has given the government one final chance to accept this after showing them that he and the precedents are totally against them before giving a ruling which would shatter the history of Canadian collaboration in matters of security.

He cannot predicate his rulings and his job based on what Harper does, he has to to it the way he did. That was respecting the core values of our system of government and for that I am grateful beyond belief even knowing what Harper is going to try to do with it. He did do his job the right way, he cannot be held responsible for how Harper is going to act regarding it, nor is it his job to satisfy you (or me for that matter, it is not like a large part of me doesn't wish he could have done exactly as you would have preferred CC) by acting in a manner that would not be consistent with his role as Speaker. The Speaker is not an enforcer alone, he is also a facilitator, both roles are equally important and his ultimate responsibility is to the House itself and that is why I think your analogy is inherently flawed.

Ti-Guy said...

Are you starting to see why I think Speaker Peter Milliken is such a useless ass?

No. I'm all I'm seeing is why you aren't a politician.

Your analogy fails, by the way. The car doesn't belong to you exclusively. It also belongs to the person you've designated a thief. It would have been better to use a schoolyard game where one player is sitting on the common property, such as the ball, and won't let anyone play with it.

It's not the Oppostion's right to call for the documents. It's the House's, as a whole.

Still, you may turn out to be right. We are living under a dictatorship, after all.

liberal supporter said...

If the car contained Clyde's jacket, with pictures of Bonnie's powder encrusted nose, then the car analogy would be apt.
Milliken just decided to let the government stew a couple of weeks longer, knowing things will only get worse for them. He's a Liberal you see, and with tax season over, people thinking about summer, he figures they'll be looking at the festering mess and starting to get completely fed up.
Steve cries "confidence", and the House finds him in contempt. Steve cries "the election is your fault" and everyone finally says "fuck off Steve". I think we have a tipping point.

theo said...

What Scotian said! Way better than I! :)

I’m really hoping you’re wrong CC.
As you said, time will tell.

Alison said...

Ti-Guy's right, CC, the thief is part owner.
A better analogy would be you, your designated thief, and a couple of other guys jointly own a car but thief guy decides he's the only one who gets to drive it.
Happily in my analogy however the car doesn't much care for the name George and takes its revenge by backing over him in the driveway.

CC said...

I will defer to the judgment of numerous commenters, and simply take the position that, in less than two weeks, we will find out how this all shakes out. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go wash my car.

Metro said...

I'll put a beer on the Harperites a) coming up with yet another excuse or b) deluging the Opposition with a raft of documents mostly having nothing to do with the case and "partially redacted" up to 90%, followed by their immediate convening of the responsible comittee to "study the evidence" before anyone actually manages to piece together a coherent picture.

Followed by complaining about how the Opposition is intransigent in trying to get to the bottom of things.