Friday, January 8, 2010

Proroguing Parliament and the Death of the Canadian Monarchy

I've been rather negligent in my blogging the last few weeks, especially since there has been plenty to blog about. Stephen Harper has shut down Parliament in the face of political fire from the opposition, and the public reaction seems to be very negative.

Mr. Coyne sums up my feelings on this issue (he usually does). He comments in the video below that it is not so much a matter of the rules but of bad behaviour. Even if Proroguing Parliament was constitutional, it is a bad precedent to allow a Prime Minister to escape public scrutiny in this way. As Mr. Coyne comments, if this is truly allowed under the rules then the rules should be changed.

Ultimately, what has been revealed here is the farce of constitutional monarchy. A modern day Monarchist would have you believe that we need the office of Governor General and ties to the British Queen to ensure constitutional stability and continuity. The Governor General is suppose to be the vehicle in which bad behaviour is prevented and constitutional norms (such as responsible government) is enforced. Yet Governor General Jean has repeatedly demonstrated that she will not stand up to the PMO on constitutional matters.

The past few years of minority Parliament has made it clear that the Monarchy in Canada is truly an anachronistic institution.


Anonymous said...

The GG has correctly judged that there is not a viable alternative to the Harper government. As we work through these years of "liberal Conservatives" and "statist Liberals" with the added filip of the Bloc, the Monarchy is responsible for providing stable government.

Blame Crash said...

I know a lot of people get all giddy and starry eyed over Coyne, but the truth of the matter is that he can be best described as a CBC "Made for TV" conservative. He's as full of it as they come and a true windbag.

He’s just another member of the Toronto based "Journalinista National Liberation Front" who has his own “conservative act” to perform. As I said, it’s all “made for TV”.

Good Gawd ! Is their anyone in Toronto who isn't a leftist kook of one sort or another? It sure doesn't seem so!

But hey, I’m with you on the ditching of the monarchy. Nothing against the Queen of course, but the though of a “King What’s His Face” will hopefully be enough to get Canadians to re-think this whole monarchy thing.

I’m just not into replacing it with a gaggle of pretentious “Celebrity” journalinista’s from hogtown.

wilson said...

' is a bad precedent to allow a Prime Minister to escape public scrutiny in this way'

like the way Chretien prorogued govt in 2003, 13 months after he prorogued in 2002,
and the purpose was to halt the AG report on Adscam and install Paul Martin, his best buddy.
That precedent, that scrutiny?

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Wilson, complaining that someone else did something bad before doesn't make it right to do it. Besides you notice that the Liberals didn't do to well after that.

Alberta Girl said...

So here's my does a government, under our system, shift gears in the middle of a mandate when circumstances (the economy) change without proroging?

I really want to know the answer to that.

kursk said...

Hugh, what about the other 100 times that it has been used in our parliamentary history?

It's a legitimate tool of the govt., it just seems that when Conservatives use it, democracy somehow is at 'risk'.

ridenrain said...

Is there a way that the senate comities could have been reset without a prorogue?

Hugh MacIntyre said...


It is not meant to be used to dodge Parliamentary scrutiny, nor is it usually used twice in two years. I don't think that anyone is claiming that proroguing is inherently evil, just the way it is being used.

Alberta Girl,

What exactly do you mean by shift gears? What changing circumstances exactly are you refering to? Why is "shifting gears" necessary?

Joe said...

Well Hugh I guess you just won the Darwin award for political blogging comments.

Proroguing is often a good thing and does nothing to prevent 'scrutiny'. All that proroguing does is cool off an overheated house and allow the reformation of the committees in both houses. Of course some would say "Yes but it kills legislation". This is true on the surface but all it takes is a unanimous vote for all such legislation to resume exactly where it left off. In our present circumstance the loss of legislation is probably a worthwhile trade off since the legislation was not being passed anyway. The senatorial committees were obstructing and re-writing legislation passed unanimously in the House. Put it another way: Is it better to not prorogue Parliament and have unelected senators play silly bugger with the people's clear choice of action or is it better to prorogue Parliament re-set the committees so the people's legislation is passed?

Aidanist said...

The other hundred plus times Parliament was prorogued were not, generally, when a minority prime minister was facing mounting challenges to how he has been exercising his offical and unofficial authority. In the last thirty years prorogation has barely been used.

I've written a note on why for entirely non-partisan reasons this prorogation needs to haveheaps of scorn dumped on it.

Please feel free to comment on it:

PS - The Senate was only holding up 3 of the over thirty pieces of legislation torched by the Prime Minister.

Gadget said...

If the lefties were so concerned about this "dictatorship", they'd force an election, something that could never happen in a real dictaorship. They won't because they're afraid of raising the voter's ire of facing another election so soon. They're also afraid of what the results might actually be. That makes them complicit in this "dictatorship" illusion of theirs.

Hugh MacIntyre said...


I thought that I had made it clear before but I'll say it again. I have nothing against the powers to prorogue per se, it is just inappropiate to use at this moment.

You say that Parliament is overheated. In what sense is it overheated? There was no violence or disruption by MPs. There was no instability or chance of a crisis. There was only legitimate questions being asked. Proroguing is not meant to avoid political pressure.

And I don't really care if legislation was lost.


I agree calling Harper a dicator is overstating the case. I would stick to the assertion that he has acted inappropiatly.