Friday, November 20, 2009

More than a slap on the wrists required

"Speaker slaps Tory wrists over hyper-partisan flyers." Speaker Milliken has ruled that one of the Conservative ten percenters against NS MP Peter Stoffer was "...a breach of his privileges as an MP and could potentially damage his reputation." Now it moves on to a Commons committee for more examination and there could be a remedy. Maybe. This committee apparently operates by consensus and to date nothing has stopped the barrage of partisan ten percenters, particularly from the Conservatives who have been shown to be abusing this privilege.

An additional complaint has been filed by Liberals over the latest trash from Conservatives and that too may motivate some rules now being initiated on these flyers, content or quantity wise. If this rash of defamatory material doesn't do it, who knows what will.

The answer is not to ban the vehicle completely, that could be what the Conservatives are hoping to accomplish by abusing the privilege and causing outrage. That's what they do (e.g., the Senate). Used properly, they're a means for MPs to connect with citizens and we shouldn't ban such uses of taxpayer money as long as the privilege is exercised reasonably.

Let's hope for some sanity on the issue given the high profile instances in the news now, it's a good time to act.

Update (8:15 a.m.): The Star weighs in with an editorial that captures the vibe on the Conservatives' flyers targeting Jewish voters.
Ever since their near-death experience of last December, when they almost lost power to an opposition coalition, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives have been working hard to project a more moderate image.

But every so often the curtain is lifted and we get a peek at the nasty partisanship that still animates both Harper and his party.
They are unabashedly embracing this stuff now, they think they are invincible.