Wednesday, 11 May 2005

More Confidence Tricks

Stephen Downes (both in my comments below and at his blog) disputes that the motion voted on yesterday by Canada’s parliament is really a confidence motion; he instead characterizes it as “nothing more than a recommendation to a committee.” This radically understates the nature of the motion.

In parliamentary procedure, a motion to recommit with instructions is more than a mere “recommendation”; it is a message from the floor that the committee must amend the legislation in question and then report it back to the floor as amended. Both Canadian and U.S. parliamentary rules state that anything ordered by a motion to reconsider is mandatory.

The most charitable interpretation—one denied by the Liberals—is that the amendment requires the immediate reporting of a confidence motion by the committee on public accounts. Canadian political scientist Andrew Heard argues that, in fact, the vote was a confidence motion and should be treated as such.