Thursday, January 07, 2010

Today in Prorogation

1. From Tory MP MP Brent Rathgeber, comes this darling quote:

“Democracy and Parliament are not being sidestepped — they are only being suspended.”

I look forward to the campaign signs around St. Albert next election: "Suspend Democracy - Elect Rathgeber!"

2. The Economist weighs in, with a critical editorial on Harper's decision to go prorogue.

3. Two polls are out today, with Ekos showing a narrowing of the Tory lead.

Angus Reid shows a majority of Canadians against the decision to prorogue - which is all swell and good, but it is likely worth mentioning that only a third of Canadians are paying attention to this story, and only one in ten are paying close attention to it. Ekos asks the question a bit differently, and finds that 52% of Canadians are clearly aware of Harper's prorogation vacation.

Still, the polls found that 18% and 14% (on Angus and Ekos, respectively) of Conservative voters strongly disagree with the decision, so Harper may in fact be up against a bit of backlash on this. Getting Liberals and Dippers mad is one thing, but when your own voters turn against you, that's a sign you may have miscalculated.

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  • How about this one?

    MP Gary Schellenberger says ( the proroguing of Parliament means he can take some time off to enjoy the Olympics. Mr. Schellenberger admitted he may try to take two or three weeks off during the Winter Olympic Games and may try to get to Vancouver if he can find accommodation. The Olympics in Canada were another good reason to prorogue Parliament, he added. ”If we are sitting, how do MPs get to those events,” he said of the Olympic games. “It makes sense that we are not sitting.”

    He forgot the PMO issued talking point was that they were all going to be working while on their Harper Holiday. (wink wink, nudge nudge).

    But he's an MP, afterall, so he's entitled to his entitlements.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 7:53 p.m.  

  • If only a third of Canadians are paying attention, well, that's the vast majority of those who vote, of late...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:09 p.m.  

  • I'm not on Facebook. Can you do me a favor, Grit, and please include updates to the count of irrelevant members of the irrelevant list, all protesting about an issue that's irrelevant to Canadians, in future updates?



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:38 p.m.  

  • You don't need to join, although you should, to see the site or membership totals. Google "Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament" and one of the top links should go to it. The page is open to public. Close to 100,000 now. :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 p.m.  

  • Anon - I agree the Facebook site isn't the most relevant, but if they use it to get a good crowd out for the rallies later this month...well, that would make it far more relevant.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:18 a.m.  

  • I am not a fan of the prorogue, be it Liberal or Conservative. Maybe the prorogue should be banned except for emergencies.

    Personally, I haven't seem much of a backlash against the prorogue except by the partisan folk. Once parliament does resume, the issue will fade away and no one will care until it happens again by someone.

    By Blogger Mr. Lorne, at 11:47 a.m.  

  • Here are some civil disobedient things to consider doing:
    1. Email your Conservative MP constantly and request a meeting in his/her constituency office, keep track of correspondence and responses, be persistent, make them work at home, tie up his/her time meeting with non-Conservatives, go in with complicated files to deal with, get a passport, assistance with the renovation rebate program, be creative, but make them be in the office meeting with you;
    2. Start a “Boo Harper” campaign on Facebook and Twitter, to boo whenever he or one of his Ministers appear at an Olympic event in BC, wear black armbands with the Conservative logo with a red circle and diagonal line threw it, until democracy returns to Canada;
    3. Send an email to the Governor General with the
    Subject heading: Resign
    Dear Governor General:
    Although I appreciate that you are doing a fantastic job handing out medals, awards and anniversary greetings, as well as, traveling around the country and the world, not to mention eating seal meat; your real job is to be a check in our Constitutional system of government and to protect the institutions of democracy that support it and make it accountable to the people, on this responsibility you have failed and have weakened our democracy, therefore, I regretfully request that you resign since you have already abdicated your Constitutional duties entrusted to you by the people of Canada.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:34 p.m.  

  • Robert,the Governor General has done her job. The Opposition have the majority in Parliament. If you want Parliament to step-in and stop Harper's antics, call Jack Layton and demand he vote no-confidence in the next budget.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 p.m.  

  • Yes. The G-G did her job. So has the Opposition, through its vote in December. The Tories are the only party remaining which has not done their (our) job, by refusing to provide Parliament the documents which it legitimately and legally requested.

    So, I do not believe a vote of non-confidence is what's in order.

    I believe arrests and subpoenas are what's in order, to be followed by a public inquiry in which every Minister and staffer involved in the cover-up should be forced to testify publicly about their role in subverting Constitutional Government.

    - No-Longer Tory

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:55 p.m.  

  • No-Longer Tory

    Careful. Your logic demands that dozens of big name Liberals must serve jail time Starting with Jean Cretien.

    Prorogue is a legal tactic used by many past Canadian Governments.

    If we speak of morals, then Liberals would be wise to quiet down.

    To join in a coalition with the NDP to overthrow a fairly elected government is a direct attempt to thwart democracy.

    Canadians voted in a conservative government. That means Canadians did not want more of the same rip-offs made so clear by Gomery's investigation.

    Liberals are on such thin ice.

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 9:22 p.m.  

  • TonyGuitar:

    Please, do yourself a favour: visit a source on Canada’s system of government such as “How Parliament Works” (I think it is accessible on It will help you learn how governments are chosen in Canada. Because no party won a majority, Harper was “invited” by the Governor General (GG) to try to form government. If the Bloc, NDP, and Liberals wanted to form government and told the GG as much immediately following the last election, guess who would have formed government? They could have even chosen Gilles Duceppe to be Prime Minister! Fortunately, the Liberals backed off the Bloc-NDP coalition plan. But it certainly would have been perfectly legal, as you will discover after you complete your reading assignment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:22 a.m.  

  • Anonymous, you are mistaken.

    The current Government has been continuous since 2006. Our system of Government does not create a New Government with a newly-elected Parliament.

    Rather, the Government (the "Administrative" branch, in the American parlance) is continuous unless and until an election requires a change in Government because the then-existing Government is forced to resign.

    By Blogger Paul, at 6:13 a.m.  

  • Yes. Procedurally speaking, in the theoretical situation above, Harper would still be PM during the election and immediately following the vote (like every election situation). I suppose he could force a confidence vote instead of stepping down, but once that vote is lost the GG must ask the coalition to rule. Historically, GGs (and LGs) have offered the PM or Premier role to the party or coalition with the most seats, pure and simple. And historically, I don’t think any out-going PMs or Premiers have forced a confidence vote on the matter immediately following an election (I could be wrong).

    However, now that you have me thinking about it: given the precedent set by the GG last year, perhaps Harper could refuse to step down, even if the Liberals win a majority government in the next election, by proroguing Parliament immediately after an election. Could the GG say to Harper, “I’ll give you six months to finish up what you’re working on, before I let the Liberals, who now have a clear majority of seats in the House, take over”? Martin and Harper have found so many ways to avoid confidence votes I am not certain what the limits are anymore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:29 p.m.  

  • Anon, what have you been smoking... ...perhaps Harper could refuse to step down, even if the Liberals win a majority government in the next election, by proroguing Parliament immediately after an election...

    Parliament isn`t in session during an election. The very first thing done in Parliament AFTER an election is the Speech from the Throne, which is a confidence vote. If I recall correctly, there was a 4-5 day period between the election and Harper officially becoming PM vs. PM-elect.

    By Blogger Candace, at 11:36 p.m.  

  • The time between Harper winning the 2006 election and becoming PM was two weeks (Jan 23-Feb 6).

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 11:42 p.m.  

  • Candace, good point. Cant prerogue when not in session. I should have said, simply not called Parliament for six months (my big concern is tactics to avoid confidence votes-losing power). Wikipedia had an interesting note on this matter:

    There are no examples in Canadian history of cabinets ruling without consulting Parliament at least once a year. If it were to happen, Professor Gérald-A. Beaudoin wrote in 1982 that section 5 would not allow courts to take any remedial action besides ruling the government's refusal to let a legislature sit is inappropriate. If it were necessary to resolve the problem, the Governor General of Canada would have to appoint a new government and new prime minister.[7]

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:54 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Jessie, at 7:38 a.m.  

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