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NEWS: Parliamentary committee finds Harper government in ‘contempt of Parliament’

CBC reports, “The Conservative government is in contempt of Parliament, a report by a committee of MPs tabled Monday concludes. The government’s failure to produce all documents that had been requested from it or to provide a satisfactory explanation for withholding them impedes the ability of MPs to carry out their duties, the report said, and the government is therefore in contempt. The 26-page report was tabled late Monday afternoon and 48 hours must go by before the House of Commons can vote on whether to accept the committee’s report.”

“The procedure and house affairs committee began meeting early Monday morning to finalize a draft of the report that had been prepared over the weekend following two days of hearings last week. The committee was tasked with deciding whether the government breached the privilege of MPs by not supplying sufficient documentation on the estimated costs of corporate tax cuts, proposed crime legislation and the F-35 fighter jet procurement. Some amendments were made and the final report was made public Monday afternoon.”

“The Conservatives argue they have provided all of the information that has been requested of them and that they have complied with Milliken’s ruling. …The opposition, however, said the pages were filled with text of the crime bills and still did not contain the details they are seeking. Opposition MPs say they cannot be expected to vote on legislation without knowing how much it is going to cost taxpayers.”

“The committee met for three days last week to hear witnesses on two breach of privilege issues, one involving the cost estimates, and the other on whether International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda should also be found in contempt of Parliament. …A separate report from the committee on Oda must be tabled by Friday.”

“Monday’s committee report could lead to the introduction of a non-confidence motion in the government as a consequence for its contempt finding. On Tuesday, the government will deliver the budget and it could also trigger an election later in the week if the Conservatives do not get the support of at least one opposition party.”

A finding of contempt would be a first in Canadian history.

The CBC report is at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2011/03/21/pol-privilege-contempt.html.