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Martin Drops Parliamentary Procedure Bombshell

Martin Drops Parliamentary Procedure Bombshell

Faced with declining numbers in recent polls and an increasingly aggressive political base, Prime Minister Paul Martin today launched a parliamentary procedure proposal that shocked and bored Canadian voters.

While campaigning at a doorstop factory in Newfoundland's voter-rich Humber Valley, Martin promised that under a Liberal government, Standing Order 16.5, paragraph 3, section (ii) would no longer be binding if the Clerk of the Standing Committee on House Procedure agreed to forbear from the introduction of motions to introduce non-binding amendment formulas.

"Canadians understand that the Liberal Party of Canada shares their values," proclaimed an emphatic Martin. "And Canadians know that Liberals share their commitment to streamlining the amendment formula and putting the power of non-binding forbearance back where it belongs, in the hands of the Clerk of the Standing Committee, or in his or her absence, in the hands of a suitable designate to be named during a period of time not to exceed 48 hours of the receipt of the request from the Speaker for an ad hoc extension," added the Prime Minister, to a smattering of applause and blank stares.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper wasted no time in branding Martin's promise "another pathetic Liberal attempt to weaken the ability of the Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole to extend at the close of sitting each the order of business for the following day. It's time for Canadians to stand up for Canada and reject this procedurally incomplete Liberal government."

When informed of Martin's bold procedural proposal, New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton told reporters, "the um, thing, about the the, um, timelines and um, procedures, yes. We're against it. I think. Or maybe not. I, um . . . what do you think about it?"

Telemarketer Karl Liberson was going to vote Liberal, but is now undecided with Martin's latest announcement. "Changes to paragraph 2, section (v) would be a much more important piece of procedure to rectify. Is Martin out of touch?"

Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, riding a wave of popular support in his home province, was careful not to rise to the Liberal bait and enter into a no-win debate on the sanctity of amending formulas and the extension of forbearance notice. A cautious but clearly cynical Duceppe used his closing statement to outline the nature of the Bloc's response to Paul Martin's audacious procedural vision. "Well, I think that when the people of Quebec look at Ottawa what they see is they see that the Liberals are promising what they know will only serve to extend the length of the time that it takes for the debate on the formula to amend the non-binding motions," Duceppe concluded.

Calls from Green Party leader Jim Harris to reporters were not immediately returned.

The election enters its final 10 days with a large number of Canadians still staying they're undecided over House Procedures, and remain deeply divided over just how much power should reside in the amending formulas themselves.

Posted on January 12th, 2006



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