Roundup: Demands for a debate over Syria

As the speculation on an international response to alleged chemical weapon attacks in Syria intensify, there are questions about whether or not Parliament will be recalled to discuss the issue. And thus begins a teachable moment when it comes to the Crown prerogative of military deployment. You see, the ability to deploy the military is a Crown prerogative – meaning that the government can do it without the consent of the Commons – because it maintains a clear line of accountability. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, it means that the Commons can hold the government to account for the actions that were undertaken during its watch. But when parliaments vote on deployments, it means that they become collectively responsible, and by extension, nobody is responsible when things go wrong. As well, it breeds the culture of the caveats, which many European military units suffered under during Afghan deployments – because no parliament wants their men and women to really be put into harm’s way. Keeping deployments a Crown prerogative allows for that tough decision making to happen. (For more on this, read Philippe Lagassé’s study here). Stephen Harper has been trying to institute votes because it does just that – it launders the prerogative and the accountability. It also was handy for dividing the Liberals back during the days of the Afghan mission, but bad policy overall. Meanwhile, as people point to the UK parliament being recalled over the Syria issue, it bears reminding that their votes are non-binding in such matters, and as much as Thomas Mulcair may demand that Parliament discuss a deployment, demanding a binding vote is only playing into Harper’s hands.

A recent Deloitte report says that a technical glitch in the recent budget implementation bill will effectively double the corporate tax rate of credit unions over five years, which has Peggy Nash up in arms. It’s too bad that there weren’t any MPs there to vet this bill and catch these kinds of errors. Oh, wait…

Conservative Senators David Tkachuk and Carolyn Stewart Olsen say that the CTV report that they were in close contact with Nigel Wright over the Duffy repayment is a complete fabrication – and not surprising since it contradicts all of their previous claims. Liberal Senator Larry Campbell, a former Mountie, says the allegations of a cover-up need to be probed, though the Liberal Senate leader, James Cowan, says that the Mounties are already looking into this and will get to the bottom of it. Oh, and Senator Duffy? Continues to insist that he’s innocent and hasn’t done anything wrong.

The current head of the Senate’s Internal Economy committee, Senator Gerald Comeau, says that he can’t release the detailed breakdown of the additional expenses that Senator Wallin is forced to repay, and that he needs the authority of the full Senate to release that information.

Liberal senators are trying to get the Senate Chamber’s proceedings broadcast by way of podcast, since there are no cameras in there, and nobody wants to pay for a CPAC2 to broadcast those proceedings.

The Manitoba factum to the Supreme Court reference question on Senate reform is in, and it’s pretty unequivocal that the federal government’s position is bunk, and includes an argument against term limits that I hadn’t previously considered – that it maintains the independence of Senators, because if their terms ended before the age of 75, there is reason to believe that they might expect reward from the government of the day with things like ambassadorships or heads of commissions or tribunals, and by keeping the age at 75, it negates that possibility. Clever – and consider it added to my list of arguments.

Thomas Mulcair’s constitutional vandalism – err, Senate abolition tour took him to Nova Scotia, where he and NDP premier Darrel Dexter made a bunch of specious and fallacious comparisons between the demise of the provincial upper chamber and the role of the federal Senate.

The court documents around the “Pierre Poutine” fraudulent robocall investigation now provide a proper IP address that ties it to the Marty Burke campaign, and gives a clear timeline of events.

Here’s a look at some of the staffing changes in the PMO and the top echelons of the Conservative Party, which has observers saying that it looks like the Harper government is entrenching its position.

PostMedia looks at some of the economic arguments around legalising marijuana.

The Liberals are holding their summer caucus retreat in PEI.

The court challenge by a BC First Nation with regards to the Canada-China FIPA has been dismissed because the impacts have been deemed speculative – which is true, considering that it relied largely on a hypothetical that one day a Chinese-owned pipeline company, which currently doesn’t exist in Canada, would somehow ignore environmental regulations and sue the government for billions if it didn’t allow a pipeline (ignoring that the treaty carves out environmental concerns as a protected category).

Two University of Ottawa law professors are fighting over Peter MacKay’s comments saying that it was illegal for Trudeau to smoke pot, as one prof wants the Nova Scotia bar to censure MacKay, and the other says that the bar should stay out of politics.

There’s an election coming up in Attawapiskat, and several people want to challenge Chief Teresa Spence for the job – but there’s a major problem with the band’s electoral system. It was supposed to have been changed to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that would allow those living off-reserve to vote, but the council never ratified the changes, and now they complain that it would be too expensive to set up a mail-in ballot system for the over thousand community members not currently on the reserve. Others don’t want to rock the boat too loudly because the chief and council control everything, and their families could be punished if they speak out against the flawed process. The Congress of Aboriginal People, which represents off-reserve Aboriginals, says the process is illegal and needs to be delayed until it can be in compliance with the law.

And as he eases back into “civilian” life, Peter Penashue moans that his Liberal critics became bullies. The poor dear.