The Commons: Inside the Bernier hearings

With little else better to do between 3:30 and 5:30 this afternoon, The Commons is going to kill a couple of hours at Day One of what we’ll wildly tout as the Bernier hearings. Appearing first is Michael Juneau-Katsuya, the oft-quoted former CSIS agent. The last hour and 15 minutes will be split between a pair of RCMP commissioners.

Should be terribly enlightened and chock full of helpful innuendo and leading questions.

Watch this space. The fun shall commence shortly.

3:34 PM
For those of you keeping score at home, we’ve got Bonnie Brown, Sue Barnes, Ujjal Dosanjh and Marlene Jennings for the Liberals; Dave MacKenzie, Gord Brown, Rick Norlock and Colin Mayes for the government, Serge Menard for the Bloc; Penny Priddy for the NDP. And one member from the BQ whose name escapes. Surely their mother watching at home are thrilled.

3:43 PM
Michel Juneau-Katsuya opens with his assertion that this is not at all a matter of Mr. Bernier’s private life.

3:45 PM
Unexpected reference to J. Edgar Hoover.

3:50 PM
“It is obvious that there was a breach of security… Important questions remain… An investigation by the RCMP is required.” Peter Van Loan begs to differ.

3:51 PM
“Canada is respected as a serious country.” The rest of the world begs to differ.

3:55 PM
Dave MacKenzie appears thoroughly displeased with this. Gord Brown is noticeably bored. The opposition members are going through Juneau-Katsuya’s statement, underlining the exciting parts.

4:00 PM
Our man from CSIS completes his dissertation on government security policy. Not yet a single mention of Ms. Couillard’s chest. Disappointing.

4:04 PM
Juneau-Katsuya’s argument can be paraphrased as follows: “I’m out of order. You’re out of order. This whole system’s out of order.” Otherwise it’s an exercise in hypotheticals. Since he’s removed from the actual situation, he can only speak in ifs and shoulds and woulds and maybes. It’s not terribly sexy. Unless you’re particularly interested in bureaucratic databases.

4:10 PM
Juneau-Katsuya just deemed the Hell’s Angels “sophisticated.”

4:13 PM
Ah here we go, our man from CSIS is getting into his theory that Bernier was set-up. Couillard’s behavior was consistent with a “classic recruitment exercise.” Mention made of Ms. Couillard’s “natural assets.” The press gallery is delighted.

4:16 PM
Penny Priddy would make an extremely effective elementary school principal.

4:17 PM
MacKenzie opens with the argument that his government is no more hapless in this regard than previous administrations. Brilliant.

4:19 PM
Now he’s suggesting that Gilles Duceppe’s hair dresser had a responsibility to turn Bernier in.

4:21 PM
And now he’s arguing the entire matter was handled appropriately. Dave McKenzie is a sort of genius.

4:25 PM
Up now the RCMP, one of them bald and scary-looking.

4:26 PM
“There are limitations to what comments the RCMP can make.” In other words, the next hour is going to be a waste of everyone’s time.

“I am familiar with this matter. I am familiar with Ms. Couillard. But it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a specific case.”

4:34 PM
Dosanjh asks if Ms. Couillard was familiar to the RCMP before her recent foray into headline news. “Yes, she was.” Apologies for pre-judging the newsworthiness of this witness.

4:32 PM
The scary-looking officer asserts the importance of knowing the “facts.” Killjoy.

4:37 PM
Dosanjh asks if the RCMP has had any involvement in the case of the missing dossier. The first officer says no.

4:40 PM
Serge Menard very artfully asks if a minister’s sleeping with an individual of questionable history would be deemed relevant to the RCMP. The answer apparently is yes. Though Sgt. Killjoy interjects with some hypothetical caveats.

4:47 PM
More discussion of what the RCMP might have done if they found out the Minister of Foreign Affairs was dating a person not unlike Julie Couillard. Not that they would do anything. But not that they would do nothing.

4:49 PM
For whatever reason, Penny Priddy seems particularly concerned with the threat posed to George W. Bush by his moment with Ms. Couillard.

4:53 PM
Dave MacKenzie regrets your jumping to conclusions.

4:55 PM
Dave MacKenzie again implicates Gilles Duceppe’s hairdresser. Rest assured he is not parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety without legitimate cause.

5:00 PM
Marlene Jennings has a low tolerance for ambiguity.

5:03 PM
Serge Menard is the francophone Jack McCoy. The Liberals and New Democrats should yield him their time. He’s about the only hope this committee has of getting anywhere (with all due respect, of course, to Dave MacKenzie).

5:10 PM
Rick Norlock regrets your salacious gossip.

5:11 PM
Rick Norlock just asked what amounted to an eight-part hypothetical question on the meaning of truth. Impressive.

5:13 PM
Rick Norlock is now asserting the value of human rights and laws in a democratic society.

5:14 PM
Rick Norlock again calls on Gilles Duceppe’s hairdresser to be held accountable. “We all have a responsibility to do the right thing,” he concludes.

5:15 PM
“I don’t detect a question there,” notes the chair.

5:21 PM
Sue Barnes traps the officers into admitting they may have done nothing or they may have done something, if they did anything in regards to a hypothetical minister associating with a hypothetical woman of hypothetically questionable history. So there.

5:23 PM
The Prime Minister’s Office dubbed these proceedings a “circus.” They wildly over-estimated.

5:24 PM
“You don’t always need a bulldozer to clean up your backyard,” muses the scarier looking officer.

5:27 PM
Dosanjh gets the officers to admit they noticed Ms. Couillard on Mr. Bernier’s arm at Rideau Hall. Which puts them in league with just about every Canadian male over the age of 15.

5:30 PM
And that’s about that. Terribly enlightening stuff. At least hypothetically.

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