Prorogued again – Harper suspends parliament

Stephen Harper has decided MP’s aren’t going back to work until after the Olympics.

The House of Commons was to resume January 25th. It will now be resumed in March.


1. The government is emphasizing the economy. Soudas said a new parliamentary session is needed to set in motion “basically the next phase of the economic action plan.”

2. The Conservatives are hoping the Afghan detainees issue will fizzle from lack of Question Period and House committee attention. Asked if the government will at least appoint a new Military Police Complaints Commission chair, to allow the MPCC to resume its own inquiry into the matter, Soudas didn’t come close to answering. Instead, he took the opportunity to slam the opposition parties for pursuing what he cast as a stale file.

3. The Prime Minister is eager not to be seen as wasting the work already done by the House on important legislation.

Here is a list of the bills that are shot.

Bow. James Bow.

Here, now, we have a prime minister who seeks to suspend the work of parliament — not, as it could have been argued last year, to establish a seven week cooling period before facing the prospect of changing a government in the middle of an economic crisis, but to thwart the work of various committees asking questions in the name of accountability. This is a prime minister who has defied the principle of parliamentary supremacy, ignoring a direct order by vote of parliament to turn over uncensored documents to a parliamentary committee for investigation, in order to save his own political skin. Whatever high ideals the move to suspend parliament last year might have had, they’re not present here. The move is nakedly political, and shames our democracy.

Why should we care? Well, Conservative supporters should care because every action taken here justifies any future excesses taken by a Liberal government. Jean Chretien prorogued parliament four times during his thirteen years in office; not one of those times was this done to avoid a no-confidence motion or to restructure senate committees. Even so, his action was seen as an arrogant dismissal of the work of parliamentarians in a parliament that did not sit long enough to do the work of the people.

That Paul Martin even thought of proroguing parliament to try and avoid the no-confidence motion that was going to bring him down was rightly seen as the affront to democracy that it was. In four years, Stephen Harper has prorogued parliament in a pace that makes Chretien look relaxed. If any Liberal in the future tried to suspend parliament indefinitely, to avoid accountability, or defeat within a minority parliament, the Conservatives would have no moral high ground on which to object. Indeed, Stephen Harper would have been the one to set the precedent for such appalling behaviour.

Step by step, this prime minister who campaigned on establishing a new era of transparency and accountability, has sought to strip away the very checks and balances he promised to reinforce. If Canadians are cynical about their political institutions, it’s because political accountability has been removed by successive Liberal and Conservative governments, and we should care about the actions taken here because Stephen Harper clearly wants to make the situation worse, not better.

Dr. Dawg:

Democracy in this country, always a stitched-together affair, is under increasingly serious threat, all hyperbole aside. As I have noted recently, this downward slide did not begin with the Conservatives: Pierre “Just watch me” Trudeau set the tone, and Jean Chrétien centralized all meaningful power in the PMO, ruling the country with an iron fist and the odd burst of pepper-spray.

But Harper has taken this trend through a quantum leap in four short years. His contempt for democratic process is never far below the surface. And now, once again, Parliament–Canada’s supreme elected body–is about to be flicked away like a mosquito.

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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11 Responses to Prorogued again – Harper suspends parliament

  1. Torontonian says:

    I believe there are about 35 different pieces of legislation
    that have been in the works for some time now and the
    prorogation kills them off. Each of them will have to be
    re-issued in the new parliament.

    That makes statement 3 from Macleans’ (above)
    patently false.

    One thing for certain: Harper won’t be around after the
    next election–or maybe before it–come to that.
    He and his party are in the same ranks as Mulroney
    &Co. were in 1993–damaged and tainted goods.

    After failing TWO times to bring in a majority government
    and FAILING to admit that he can’t control the opposition
    in committee, he has no choice but to 1) admit he’s not
    a leader and 2)quit before being pushed out of the party.

    He’s always conveyed the poor sportsmanship of a sore
    loser and he has a nasty temper. He looks down on the
    press and anyone not sympathetic to him or his causes.
    Notice, for example, that this is the second or third year
    that CBC doesn’t get a year-end interview with Harperl.
    Global and CTV got theirs but not CBC.

    So, where’s the Christian leadership in this person?
    He’s doing a wonderful job of undermining evangelism
    and his own C&MA beliefs. Worse, is what’s he’s been
    doing to this country.

    We have to get rid of him and his off-the-wall
    evangelical fellow MPs. It’s happening in the US
    now let it spread here.

  2. Bene D says:

    Yes, #3 is incorrect, the writer yanked the talking points from the PMO.
    This is what he heard Dimitri Souda say.

    “Soudas said the private member’s bill to scrap the long-gun registry will not be affected by ending one parliamentary session and beginning another. He said key bills on consumer protection and drug crime will be reintroduced intact in the new session. And he suggested Parliament will function more smoothly when it resumes, since the Prime Minister will have had time to appoint five new senators”

    I’m seriously disgusted with the lot of them.

  3. Dr.Dawg says:

    Happy New Year to you and yours, Bene. Blog on!

  4. Bene D says:

    Back at you Dr. Dawg.:^)

  5. Sherm says:

    Harper was ahead in the polls. When parliament resumes in March will Canadians be fed-up enough to get rid of this man? He can postpone all he wants but I think the majority of Canadians would prefer to have a sitting government.

    Looks like the Olympics has taken precedense over running the country.

  6. Therese says:

    Even if an election were called today, I think we would still have a minority government – the people have spoken and they spoke this minority government into being, twice! It shows us the reality of how divided this land has become, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing that no-one has the upper hand for a while, and that we just kind of run on cruise control for a time. May not agree with Harper on everything, but at this point I think he is the lesser of evils overall, and given the other choices, I would vote for the Convervatives again at this point. But we sure won’t see perfection until the government sits on Jesus’ shoulders will we?

    Sure this prorogue is a deliberate tactic, but perfectly legal and within rights, and nothing any other minority government would be above doing, in my opinion, if they thought of it.

  7. Margaret Thomson says:

    To commentator Therese,

    Hmm. First most of the people did not “speak this government into being”…that’s why it is a minority. Second, why would it be good to “run on cruise control”? Who says it is on cruise control by the way. What does this mean? What is acccomplished and why? Third, are we looking for perfection or are we compassionate, fair people here in Canada? Hmmm.

  8. Therese says:

    Just my two-cents Margaret, nothing less, nothing more. With a minority government, of any stripe, there is a bit of a hiatus in terms of major change, but hopefully an inability to make major errors as well. Breathing room one might say, while the nation takes stock in the ‘valley of decision’. Will Canada come to any kind of consensus after this as a nation, or remain divided? I don’t know the answer, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. In any case, I wouldn’t put my hope in human compassion – it tends to be limited: selective, short-lived and ultimately self-serving.

  9. Torontonian says:

    There were previous minority governments that had
    great results. The Liberal governments that brought
    in universal health care and the Canada Pension Plan
    are shining examples.

    Why were they successful? Because the Liberals worked
    co-operatively with the opposition–most particularly
    the New Democrats under Tommy Douglas.

    The key word here is co-operatively. That isn’t like
    Harper, sad to say.

    Another difference is that the Liberals had a real leader.
    Maybe I should make that LEADER.

    The Conservatives had a real LEADER in Robert
    Stanfield. He was the greatest prime minister
    Canada never had.

    Times then were different and so were the sensibilities
    of the electorate. We’ve moved on and I fear we’ve
    moved downhill.

    The people speak at an election and after the last
    time round, the opposition should have formed a
    bloc to stop Harper from claiming his office as PM.
    It could have been done but the Liberals were
    treading water and the other parties couldn’t
    co-operate either. That left us with the situation
    we now have.

    It’s interesting to note that the BQ was formed by
    angry ex-PC MPs from Quebec. Imagine if the Bloc
    ever lined up with the Conservatives and rejoined
    the party, the Liberals would really have to work
    hard to regain the power and influence they
    once had. Or else, so many people would be so
    frightened of the re-alliance that the Liberal ranks
    would swell and the party would once again
    be back in power.

    This prime minister is self serving. Most others have
    been dedicated humble servants working for the
    common weal of the nation.

  10. Therese says:

    I’m sure you speak much more intelligently on the subject than I can, TO – I did say “two cents”! :) Politics is not my cup of tea, but I try. I agree with you on the dearth of inspiring leadership, seems like a famine everywhere. As it happens I had a swim in the cold Atlantic ocean with Robert Stanfield many years ago when I was very young (brrrr! – Nova Scotia) – he happened to be staying in the same place as I was vacationing with my mother for a few days. That would have been about 1974 or 75 – he wasn’t P.M. at that time, but I was nonetheless impressed!

  11. Tim says:

    Now I understand it… Harper was instructed to attend the 2010 Olympics closing ceremonies to preside with “Jacques Rogge”, president of the IOC. Harper misunderstood what was said and thought he was told to “prorogue” until the closing ceremonies. It all makes sense now. DUH!!!

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