Inside Politics

UPDATED: On Irwin Cotler's question of privilege

Readers may recall Irwin Cotler bringing a question of privilege to the speaker over calls to his constituents implying he would be resigning

The callers ask constituents whether they would be willing to vote Conservative and, if asked why they're calling, say that there is an impending by-election. Cotler says that's absolutely not true: he's been the MP for 12 years and was just re-elected last May 2.

When iPolitics' Elizabeth Thompson looked into it, Saulie Zajdel, Cotler's Conservative competition in the last spring's election, told her he had nothing to do with the calls and that "it is a party thing."

Conservative Party Spokesman Fred Delorey told Thompson the party doesn't comment on operation matters.

Cotler spoke to the question of privilege Tuesday morning (see first video below). This is how Government House Leader Peter Van Loan responded - variously, by arguing the rumour's been out there for 12 years anyway, that it's a Charter right for the pollster to be able to say they don't definitively know that Cotler isn't stepping down, and that, if the speaker rules in Cotler's favour, he's insulating MPs from criticism, leaving pundits and journalists liable to be found in breach of privilege.
 
Cotler rose in response to Van Loan immediately afterwards (see second video below.)

Update: Here's Cotler writing in the Montreal Gazette about the issue.

Update #2: Cotler's office says the reports they're getting from constituents are that the callers *start* by mentioning an upcoming by-election - the callers don't wait to be pressed to mention it.

 

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Tags: breach of privilege, commons parlance

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