In and—not out? Liveblogging the Ethics Committee

3:25:42 PM
Man, I hope I didn’t give away any surprises. I got to Ethics a few minutes early, and I asked the clerk whether the chair will deal with the in-and-out motion before or after the privacy reform witnesses. When she told me it was first on the agenda, Russ Hiebert—who had been dormousing to that point—jerked to attention. “The Hubbard motion?” He asked. Yes, that’s the one. My day is full of Charles Hubbard today.

Anyway, when the clerk nodded, he leapt from his seat and strode purposefully out of the room, and he’s not been seen since. Of course, that was only a few minutes ago, and the meeting hasn’t even begun—and there he is now. Rubbing his hands together with something other than glee, even.

It’s amazing how much goes on before the gavel hits the wood.

Mike Wallace just turned up, rolling suitcase in tow. Cranky is already here—and yes, darned right he looks cranky—and Dave Van Kesteren, whose name I have a horrible habit of misspelling. Dave Batters and Russ, of course, round out the Conservative side.

As for opposition members, we have Charles Hubbard and Brian Murphy for the Liberals, Richard Nadeau and Carole Lavallee for the BQ, and a vacant chair where Pat Martin should be, but I’m sure he’ll show up eventually.

3:35:37 PM
And there we go—the chair just opened the meeting with the news that, even if he rules the motion in order, the debate won’t happen until the next meeting.

Point of order! Oh, guess who. Do I really need to tell you Cranky Tilson is already furious? He doesn’t like the chair’s plan; he thinks he’s “dead wrong” to do what he’s doing, and—seriously, what mad flea does he have in his ear now? He accuses the chair of perpetrating “a bizarre series of events,” and smolders at the other end of the table as Szabo attempts to explain his reasoning.

The witnesses, incidentally, look perfectly happy to watch the show.

3:39:54 PM
Hubbard re-reads his motion—I’m sure I don’t need to recap the text; basically, it lays out the allegations of overspending by the Conservative Party during the last election, and calls for an investigation. Easy as pie, right? Yeah, that’s what Procedure and House Affairs thought, and if you listen closely, you can still hear their screams.

The chair will now rule on the admissibility of the motion—my bet is that he’ll find it in order, but you never know with Szabo. He can be tricky and unexpected.

3:42:11 PM
Pierre Poilievre looks like he has a headache. Or a hangover, but that seems distinctly unlikely, so I’ll go with the former.

3:44:09 PM
Szabo lists the reasons why this motion may or may not fall within the mandate of the committee—I’m still betting on the former—while Cranky Tilson practices his lunge, Mike Wallace smiles gamely, and Russ Hiebert… does whatever it is Russ Hiebert does when he appears to be listening intently, his hand under his chin.

Oh, Pat Martin is here. I wonder which way he’ll vote?

3:47:28 PM
The witnesses—two lawyers from the Canadian Bar Association—are still looking interested. More interested than Pierre Poilievre, anyway.

3:49:15 PM
It would appear, the chair says, that there are issues of public interest here—all that spending stuff, and the court challenges.

3:51:13 PM
Hah! Revenge of the Thibault ruling. Szabo muses that it might become necessary for members of… a party … to recuse themselves from votes or debate on the matter. Pierre Poilievre is trying to get his head around that. “Recuse yourself from what?” He wonders. Meetings, angel heart. Enjoy your ethics commissioner ruling!

3:52:59 PM
I was right—the motion is in order.

3:54:17 PM
Pierre Poilievre is pretending he has no idea what the chair is talking about, and gets a bit snippy when the chair waves him away. Now Hiebert wants to know if the schedule announced at the beginning of the meeting is still current, and Cranky whines that the chair went ahead with a decision on whether it was ruling without letting the members debate.

Cranky challenges the chair, and the chair is sustained. “Point of order,” chorus the government members, but out of sympathy to the witnesses, the chair moves on—or tries to, but Cranky is on a tear. “That’s absolute nonsense,” he sneers. I know someone whose mic is going to be cut off.

3:57:53 PM
More bickering over the motion, or, more precisely, the chair’s decision to rule the motion in order. Poilievre is talking over him, and eventually the chair just ignores him.

And that is it! Short, sweet and potentially explosive.

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