That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Motion to nowhere

Surprised as I was that Ignatieff said he’d welcome a motion on the new Afghan “behind the wire” deployment, so long as his party didn’t do the actual proposing, I was more surprised that 1) the NDP didn’t take up the gauntlet, and that 2) the Bloc did and did it meekly.

It’s kind of Voltaire in reverse. Instead of “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” we get from the BQ “I disagree with how you say it, but as for what you say, well, I have no strong opinion.”

POGGE has already suggested (with the aptly titled article – Is that all there is?) that the BQ motion is tepid at best. The BQ motion treats the government position a fait d’accompli – no attempt to counteract it, but instead, simply to say the HoC should condemn the fact the decision was made without a vote.

To condemn the voteless nature of the decision is one thing. To disagree with the decision itself is meatier stuff. It shouldn’t be hard. Here’s a motion for you:

Canada should transition to a purely civilian mission from 2011, considering that its Armed Forces has done plenty of good stuff as regards the ISAF mission over the past decade, and a decade is plenty long. In this new decade, we are best able to support the democratic government over there through disabling any *ahem* “potential” dependence it may develop *ahem* “in the future” on NATO. Kabul wants sovereignty, and we think that’s great. The best place to start is by us getting out. Afghan soldiers don’t need training in how to fight, clearly, so our efforts will be directed towards literacy and entrepreneurialism. The Armed Forces will be coming home.

O.K., so that’s a bit of a shitty motion. I’m not actually an MP.

But I’d have expected the NDP (or, I suppose, even the Bloc), to craft a smarter version of the same sentiment. Instead, we get meek criticism of the process of Harper’s/Rae’s decision. Nothing of the decision itself.

Does Parliament really agree in its assembled majority that sleepwalking through three more years in Afghanistan is fine, and that “training soldiers how to shoot” is the best thing Canada can offer?

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , ,

2 Responses

  1. ck says:

    Duceppe is simply going through the motions to show his base he’s doing something. But, I think he is in some kind of deal with Harper. Only time will confirm my speculation and a rumour that was published in The Hill Times.

    I will be blogging about this myself at some point, but waiting for other pieces to string this all together.

    It, of course, involves that dad blasted hockey arena in Quebec City as well as other goodies for Quebec. Duceppe voted with Harper yesterday to kill the Liberal motion to cancel the F35 purchase. Apparently, the F35 deal is supposed to provide many Quebec jobs. Honestly, it was the first i’ve heard of those jobs and I have contacts close to the Bloc in Montreal.

    Plus, Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Quebecois is up for a leadership confidence vote come April 15, which she will surely lose. Today’s unsuccessful bid for a Jean Charest non-confidence vote further seals this. This means open season for anyone who wishes to lead the PQ. It is possible that Duceppe may, again, wish to take a crack at it and he’s setting the table in Ottawa for this.

    Like I said, speculation on my part, but it’s something to think about and definitely, Duceppe would be the one to watch.

    I’m surprised Layton didn’t call the vote first with all his huffing and puffing earlier. I’m wondering if that too was nothing more than playing to the base?

    According to parliamentary law, even if there was a combat mission, Harper doesn’t have to call a vote in the HOC (Layton admitted this to Craig Oliver on QP last Sunday and Duceppe has been quoted admitting this as well) and there are precedents. Even if the Liberals didn’t support Harper with this new mission, they have no say, according to parliamentary law.


    The Liberals blinked first. Initially, from Domenic Leblanc on QP last Sunday, now Iggy when he was at Dawson College on Monday, saying they’re willing to vote. But odds are, it would be whipped, as would be the cons. Layton and Duceppe couldn’t do anything if they wanted to.

    The debate we really should be having is perhaps changing this law, making parliamentary votes compulsory before sending the military on any kind of mission.

  2. Alison says:

    I was more surprised that 1) the NDP didn’t take up the gauntlet, and that 2) the Bloc did and did it meekly.

    It’s about opposition days.
    After Harper announced the extension, the next scheduled opposition day – the day on which an opposition party gets to set the day’s agenda for the House – was the Libs’ and they picked debating the F-35 purchase. The next scheduled opposition day after that is the Bloc’s tomorrow.
    So although Layton did jump up and down in the House condemning both the extension and the lack of a vote on it, no one had to answer him or have a debate about it. The Libs and Cons will have to answer the Bloc tomorrow however.

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November 2010

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