The immediate recall of the all-party committee investigating the Afghan detainee scandal is a condition the Tories should meet if they are truly serious about making Parliament work, the Liberals say.
In a pointed letter to the Government Whip Gordon O'Connor, Rodger Cuzner, the Liberal Whip, lays out several other conditions that would help make up for the prorogation of Parliament.
The Tories announced last week they are canceling two scheduled break weeks - one in March and the other in April - to make up for some of the days lost as they recalibrated their agenda over the prorogation period.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has agreed to the request (it takes all parties to agree to any changes in the parliamentary calendar). But the Official Opposition wants their conditions to be considered in return.
The Liberals want a guarantee that all ministers will be "fully available" whenever requested. They want all other Commons committees to be reconstituted within the first three sitting days so they can deal with government estimates. (It usually takes a week to 10 days for committees to get up to speed after a prorogation.) And they want four designated opposition days during March.
Mr. Cuzner says these conditions should be met in order for the Tories to "repair some of the damage you have caused" by the Prime Minister's decision to shut down Parliament until after the Olympic Games.
The Conservatives surprised everyone when they announced last week that they were canceling two break weeks. Opposition critics said the Tories did this to blunt the criticism they took from their decision to prorogue.
The Liberals, meanwhile, have been working on Parliament Hill. They've been holding roundtables on various issues since Jan. 25, when the House was originally scheduled to return to work.
"Unlike the government, the challenging issues confronting Canadians have not been prorogued from December to March," Mr. Cuzner writes. "Canadians are disappointed that their Parliament has been prohibited from functioning through this period."
(File photo: Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)