Parliamentary geekery makes the world a better place. For one day, anyway.

This one goes out to all those proceduraphiliacs out there:

NDP aide’s Commons sense saves the day

Four little words were all it took to end a logjam over whether aboriginal leaders would be allowed to respond to the government apology for residential schools from the floor of the House of Commons on Wednesday. […]

Stepping outside to pose for a photo about an hour before the historic occasion was to begin, Layton told NDP press secretary Ian Capstick he feared the impasse would taint the moment with partisan pride.

“He expressed his great concern to me that an opposition party would move forward with an aggressive motion on the floor of the House of Commons, and that Conservatives would feel compelled to shut it down,” Capstick said yesterday.

Then came those four words.

“Committee of the whole,” Capstick said he told Layton, and the leader called Harper to save the day.

That phrase meant Parliament could take its ceremonial mace off the table, let the Speaker of the House sit in a regular chair and otherwise shed some of the formality that would have prevented the aboriginal leaders from responding.

“It provides the House with a unique opportunity to have a more fulsome debate, without being constrained by party rotation, without being constrained so tightly by time limits and a whole host of different things,” he said.

Capstick, who was shy about sharing his role in the last-minute negotiations, said his solution came from a “passion for Parliament and its procedure.”

“I’m in love with the House of Commons and what we do for Canadians,” said Capstick, who has worked on the Hill for 10 years. “If you want to best be able to effect change on behalf of ordinary people, you’ve got to know the rules of the House. And if you don’t, well, you won’t be effecting much change at all.”

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