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Opposition parties wants PM to throw out obstruction playbook 

[PoliticsWatch updated 11:30 a.m. May 28, 2007]

OTTAWA  — Liberal leader Stephane Dion and NDP Leader Jack Layton both put pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper Monday to have his party stop using obstruction tactics in Parliament. 
  
"We have work to be done," Dion said at a press conference in Ottawa. "It's time now to do it and for the government to lay down its playbook of obstruction."

Dion was referring to a procedural playbook for Conservative committee chairs leaked to the National Post two weeks ago. 

The 200-page binder provides advice to committee chairs on how to gain the upper hand against the opposition parties, which control committees, through witness selection, filibusters and even sudden meeting adjournments. 

Over the previous two weeks in the House, Conservative committee chairs cancelled some meetings and abruptly adjourned others while Tory MPs staged filibusters in at least two committees. 

NDP leader Jack Layton made a similar plea in a letter sent to Harper on Monday. 

"The existence of the manual proves there is a centrally coordinated government agenda to obstruct the work of parliament," Layton wrote in a copy of the letter obtained by PoliticsWatch. 

"This is nothing short of parliamentary sabotage and shows contempt for the institution of parliament and the people who sent us there to represent them."

The letter closes with Layton urging the prime minister to "denounce the obstructionist manual and direct your cabinet and officials to cease the manipulative tactics contained within it."

There is speculation in Ottawa that the Conservatives want to cut this sitting of parliament short and prorogue before the scheduled June 22 recess date. 

It is believed the government is waiting for the budget implementation bill, which is currently before the Commons finance committee, to be passed before pulling the plug on Parliament. 

However, Dion said he is opposed to the government cutting short the spring sitting of the House. 

"Canadians want us to work and all of the month of June we should," he said. "There are no reasons to stop before."

While the opposition remains suspicious about an early proroguing of Parliament, Canwest News reported Monday that Conservative whip Jay Hill wants to keep things functioning. 

Hill reportedly organized a meeting of his three opposition counterparts Monday morning to discuss a compromise to continue the business of the House. 

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