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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Reason Proroguing Parliament Matters

In Scotland I don't really have my ear to the ground of Canadian politics. But still I don't think that outrage over the prorogued Parliament is mere media hype. Now some doubters are beginning to agree (though not others). Certainly it is nowhere near the fury directed at the almost-coalition a year ago, but still Mr. Harper has stepped on a land mine.

I don't think that it is a matter of a deeply bred respect for the ancient customs of Parliament or a native loyalty to constitutional traditions. The outrage has more to do with the fact that the Prime Minister's powers are being used too blatantly.

Harper is not the first Prime Minister to be accused of holding dictatorial powers, and he is not likely to be the last. For decades now the PMO has been steadily growing stronger. First the Monarchy, then Parliament, and finally Cabinet have all been overthrown and diminished by the Prime Minister's Office.

It has long been true that the Canadian Prime Minister could do basically whatever he wanted. But hey, this is still a democracy. There are still elections, and everything a Prime Minister does comes with a political cost or a political benefit. That is to say, either the Prime Minister has the support of the people, or he doesn't.

Last year when he prorogued Parliament he did have the support of the people. It is a pointless debate if it was constitutional; the reality is the people liked it, so he could get away with it. This time is different. There is no real excuse for proroguing. The only obvious explanation for why Mr. Harper would do it is to avoid politically damaging questions in the House.

The people may not understand the Constitution, but they understand fair play and they understand democracy. That is why Proroguing Parliament matters.

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on January 8, 2010 | Permalink


The only obvious explanation for why Mr. Harper would do it is to avoid politically damaging questions in the House?

Rejigging the senate committees so our unelected representatives can't as easily muck about with his government bills seems a lot more likely. Most people don't seem to know/care much about the supposedly politically damaging questions.

Posted by: K Stricker | 2010-01-08 4:52:54 PM

No libertarian should be concerned with the undermining of democracy, as Stephen Harper is presently doing.

We should be grateful for dysfunctional democracy, as it means the moron MPs "we" elect can not do any additional harm whilst out of Parliament.

That said, let's be frank: Harper has arrogantly decided to ignore the entire basis for his power.

He does not want the distraction of any kind of accountability or debate to take away from his showboating at the boondoggle Government Games aka Winter Olympics.

He does not want any more attention drawn to the actions of his government and their CF hirelings in Afghanistan.

He does not want to answer for the colossal economic distortions and misallocations he is author of.

In short, Harpo has prorogued parliament because he is an unaccountable coward and power is steadily corrupting him.

Posted by: JC | 2010-01-08 5:57:19 PM

Democracy is over-rated. The longer they stay home, the better. What possible good can come from a minority left-lib-centrist parliament. Every day without the Bloc must be refreshing as well.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-01-08 7:05:53 PM

This is clearly a precedent setting matter that warrants and needs the publics attention.

Viral video anyone?


Posted by: Matt Coultes | 2010-01-08 11:05:30 PM

It would be a matter for the GG to determine if parliament has become dysfunctional . When the same questions are asked over and over again and the answer has been given ad nauseum , it`s time to move on. When the opposition has nothing to offer other than playing ' lawyer for the Taliban' or wanting to spend millions ' immunizing ' the entire planet from the flu , or arguing for a worthless carbon tax , after the new guys won an election over it or arguing about the design of a logo, so called debate becomes a farce .

Posted by: daveh | 2010-01-09 9:15:13 AM

Daveh, that is a pretty lame excuse. Why should the GG be the judge of opposition strategy? In fact she really should not be.

Posted by: Hugh MacIntyre | 2010-01-10 5:18:42 AM

Open your eyes Hugh . The out of touch opposition parties have transformed parliament into a courtroom full of lawyers arguing in the abstract . The GG is there to keep things moving , not to preside over a bunch of dusty academics on high ,dictating to the low brow rabble how they should behave .

Posted by: daveh | 2010-01-10 8:11:59 AM

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