Reports are circulating that citizen Frank Iacobucci may take as long as a year and a half to issue his opinion about which unredacted Afghan detainee documents Parliament should be permitted to see. If that's the case, may as well burn the damned things.
Prominent Liberal bloggers are starting to sweat.
Has Harper pulled another magnificent rabbit out of the hat he talks through? Or is that just Michael Ignatieff with an empty Easter basket?
And will the NDP hold to its Friday deadline and bring up their own question of privilege if the Liberals fold?
No timeline has been imposed on Iacobucci, but the Liberals are already moving off the key issue--Parliamentary supremacy. Liberal Ralph Goodale is publicly speculating about how long Iacobucci will need. And an NDP spokesperson is talking about widening his mandate:
Megan Leslie, an NDP MP who participated in the same panel, said she agreed with Mr. Goodale. “Justice Iacobucci, brilliant legal mind. Let's use that brilliant legal mind for something bigger than this,” she said. “Let's look at the whole detainee question.”
Talk like this makes me nervous. Iacobucci's presence, it appears, has been tacitly accepted. That should not be. That must not be.
In all this flurry, whatever happened to Rob Walsh? Remember him? He's the Law Clerk of Parliament. It's his job to pronounce on matters like this. And he did. But he said what Harper didn't want to hear: the committee seized of the Afghan detainee issue has a right to access the unredacted documents.
So Iacobucci has essentially been brought in from the outside to offer a second opinion. He's looking more and more like a shill, witting or unwitting. But even there, confusion reigns. He hasn't yet been cleared to examine anything, and Harper and his Justice Minister are at odds about his mandate. More smoke. Black, billowing smoke.
Will the issue of the supremacy of Parliament--our MPs calling the shots, in other words, a little trifle called "responsible government"--be back-burnered under the glazed eyes of the opposition until well after the next election?
It's sure looking that way.
UPDATE: More from Kady O'Malley.