It seems that Stephen Harper is treating the 39th session of Parliament more like a multi-partite congregation than his predecessor ever did.
Today, with a conciliatory gesture, the PMO announced that there will be a Take Note debate on Afghanistan on April 10th. Both the Liberal Party and NDP have been asking to ‘discuss’ the current Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
Contrast the attitude of the current minority government with that held by Paul Martin’s. It seems that Harper is reaching out constructively (as he did with the NDP in pre-throne speech consultations) rather than manipulating Parliamentary procedure and opposition days while making unprincipled budget re-writes in order to extend the slow death of a Gomery-damned government.
Of course, we may yet see some creative Parliamentary acrobatics, yet Stephen Harper’s olive branch to those who’d like to discuss the mission is certainly showing good faith.
I’ve learned that Rob Nicholson, the Conservative House leader initiated discussions with the other House leaders on setting up the take note debate.
There will not be a vote on the Canadian mission. The debate will allow Canadians to evaluate the opinions and statements of their Parliamentarians on the issue of Afghanistan. For example, former NDP leader Alexa McDonough supports the mission adamantly. However, there is a minority yet significant number of Canadians that do not support the mission in Afghanistan. It will be interesting to see which MPs take up this position and how they do so.
The Conservative Party is certainly supportive of our men and women in uniform and the Liberal Party, even in its new opposition role, should support the mission since it was their government which sent Canadians to secure that troubled country.
From what I understand, a vote will only occur on new mission instead of ongoing deployments. This take note debate allows a discussion and the results will hopefully preserve the morale of our soldiers. Will the mere debating (or rather ‘discussion’) of the mission phase our troops?
I hope not. They should know that there are certainly many of us in Canada that support what they do.
UPDATE: BBS calls Jack Layton on his record. It’s quite shameful when you realize that Harper’s extension of the olive branch to the NDP may be more about Jack’s partisan hackery than a need to inform Canadians about the mission.