Shea votes for contempt

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Editor: Largely under the radar of national media an interesting thing happened in Ottawa over the course of this month. Brad Butt, MP for  Mississauga-Streetsville made statements in the House of Commons that, on their face, were misleading to say the least. On Feb. 6 Mr. Butt stood in the House of Commons and spoke into record about the Harper Government’s Fair Elections Act.

“I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID.” – Brad Butt, MP.

An hour later he repeated the assertion in response to a question. “I will relate to him something I have actually seen,” – Brad Butt, MP

These are serious, unequivocal and unambiguous allegations. So serious that a complaint to Elections Canada was made.

The status of the complaint is not known but what we do know is that 19 days later Mr. Butt stood in the House to retract the statements claiming that he had ‘misspoke’ and now ‘considers the matter closed.’ Immediately Harper government spokespeople went to work defending Mr. Butt by lambasting the opposition, claiming the whole thing is just a pretense to hold up passage of the Fair Elections Act. On March 3, House Speaker, Conservative Andrew Scheer, disagreed and found a prima facie breach of privilege had indeed occurred and allowed the Opposition to begin the process that could lead to a contempt finding.

Immediately the Harper government unleashed an arsenal of procedural weapons to shut down the process. First a motion to invoke closure after just two hours of debate, then a procedural trick to use up the time allotted to the process discussing other issues. All the while simply repeating their talking points about ‘moving on’ and ‘letting it go.’ The Harper Conservatives had decided that making misleading statements about criminal acts in the House of Commons should have no consequences and nothing was going to get in their way.

What is the Island connection to all this? Late in the evening on March 4, Harper’s voice in P.E.I., Minister Gail Shea, stood up in the House and voted against the Speaker’s ruling, effectively sweeping the entire matter under the rug. She did this, but not before rising to second the closure motion which shut down debate. She voted against accountability, against honesty and integrity. Gail Shea voted for contempt.

Chris Stewart,

Fort Augustus

Organizations: House of Commons, Elections Canada, Harper Conservatives

Geographic location: Ottawa, Fort Augustus

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