Prorogue nation

by Aaron Wherry

Glen Pearson leaves for Africa with much on his mind.

Like many reading this blog, I’ve done a lot of thinking over the present prorogation of Parliament and I presume I’m in the vanguard of those who are deeply troubled by the development. Yet in so many ways, Canada has been prorogued for years. Suspending or cancelling our international commitment to Africa is bad enough, but where also is our commitment to battling climate change, or how could we spend so abundantly with no plan in place for how we pay it off? While our Aboriginal communities still suffer from our prorogation of the human spirit, this country yet refuses to sign the UN’s Declaration of Aboriginal Rights. We went AWOL on medical isotopes and have done absolutely nothing to deal with the emerging healthcare crisis already at our doorstep. Child poverty is roughly what it was 20 years ago and we still haven’t figured out what our development plans look like as we leave Afghanistan.

Heck, this country has been in prorogation for a long time, enough that it might be time to worry that it’s becoming part of our collective DNA. In our inability and lack of maturity surrounding minority government, we take the kind of incremental steps that lead to … nothing. Parliamentarians sit fewer days in the House than ever before and these significant issues lie in wait for someone to use power for anything other than the desire to hold on to it.

Prorogue nation

  1. That group you mention, it's entirely made up of Canadians right?

  2. Oh look, the "I dont want to go to school tomorrow" Facebook group that started yesterday has 79,690 members and an average growth of 44,683 per day! Or as the Libtards on these boards like to say, that's ½ of a person every second!

    I guess this means that we should cancel school tomorrow since this is obviously the will of the people!

    The numbers show an obvious trend. By 2020 there will be 163,092,950 new members!

  3. Does it matter? Is Wherry's favorite Facebook page made up entirely of Canadians?

  4. "While our Aboriginal communities still suffer from our prorogation of the human spirit, this country yet refuses to sign the UN's Declaration of Aboriginal Rights."

    Who knew that all the first nation people need to gain their 'human spirit' was for a government to sign the UN's Declaration of Aboriginal Rights. I wonder if Pearson has ever given a moment's thought to the fact that the most screwed up ethnic minority we have in Canada, the natives, are also the only group to have their own government department.

    Canada practices apartheid when it comes to natives and Pearson wants even more of it because he cares.

    CS Lewis's quote always come to mind when I read/listen to earnest liberals and progressives.

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

  5. So, you actually believe that Facebook is a valid source of information and statistics?

    Wow, Libtarded.

  6. I'm sorry, what exactly are you suggesting here?

  7. Thank you Jolyon.
    I'd support you on that. Check Strahl is a tyrant!
    He was on the Agriculture file – and he's worse if anything on the INAC one!
    Typical Reformist!

  8. Ok, Dakota. You keep counting Facebook groups while the rest of us try to find solutions to our real problems.

    @OP: Such postings give me pause. I may not entirely agree with it, but Pearson's got a point. Just what have we actually accomplished, as a country, in the past four years where it comes to national public policy?

  9. I think you can go further back than 4 years. Although the last 4 have been completely forgettable, they fit well into the pattern past decade.

  10. If Pearson believes that flying for 22 hours each way to do a few hours work on a new school in Africa is useful, then just do it quietly. Gandhi and Mother Teresa didn`t need blogs to publish their too cute ways of using the word prorogue.

    Rather then only staying for a couple of weeks, it might be more useful to stay on for 2 or 3 years and he could still slam the Canadian government from there.

    And I`m sure the good people of Africa will be thrilled to know what Joe Clark and Bob Rae and Romeo have been up to.

  11. Funny, I hear that quote everytime I hear someone say "Canadians just aren't paying attention" – myself included.

  12. How old are you? 3?

  13. Lots of people have been looking in to historical examples, and I have a question (yes i could Google, I'm lazy and someone might have already found this out!). How many times has Parliament been prorogued by a PM with a minority, and what were the circumstances?

    Prorogation has indeed been used many times, but how often has it been used by a PM who doesn't hold a majority of seats in the Commons, specifically to avoid the votes and investigations of the House?

  14. That Ghandi would have made a GREAT blogger!

  15. LKO,

    Is it important to know? For each example someone raised, I would want to know the political context before judging whether it was approriate or not. In this case, it isn't relative numbers or frequency but context tthat tells a story. Jesse has demonstrated already that mere frequncy as a measure allows him to deflect the debate and obscure the conversation.

  16. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be:

    How many government-sponsored bills have been killed by minority governments calling early elections or proroguing Parliament?

    Harper has killed scores of his own party's bills, including multiple Senate reform and justice bills, through his early election call and two prorogued Parliaments. Has any other minority government ever sacrificed so much of its own legislation?

  17. That's unfair to 3 year olds.

  18. Yes, we could, but I was referring to our current government's tenure, specifically (and not just the party members, but the wonks who work for them, too).

    Reaching farther back opens two doors I'm not sure would do anyone any good: the "comparison" door, whereby we all conclude that nothing was done before, so it's somehow acceptable that nothing has been done in the more recent before; and the "depressed" door, whereby we all conclude that if nothing has been done and we've paid all this money and done all this work, and we're still nowhere, why keep trying?

    For what it's worth, I like history, and I believe it has tremendous value to Canadians as a social guide and policy compass. That said, the more we reach for answers in the past, the less interested we seem in reaching for solutions in the future. And that's intended to be a philosophical argument, rather than a political one.

  19. You don't know if Ghandi and Mother Teresa would have used the internet – there was not internet in their day….sigh.

  20. I don't know about how important the comparison may or not be, but I do agree with you about raw numbers being unhelpful (which is why I asked how many times it's been done and what were the circumstances).

    Using mere frequency as a measure may skew the debate, but at the VERY least I'd like us to compare the frequency of today's apples to yesterday's apples. People can cite Chretien's prorogations until they're blue in the face, it doesn't change the fact that Chretien's governments all won the majority of seats in the House of Commons and it's a different kettle of fish all together for a PM to prevent the House from sitting when his party holds a majority of the votes in said House.

    To me, giving the finger to 45% of our elected representatives is measurably different from giving the finger to 53% of them.

  21. And sorry, I did miss your reference to "what were the circumstances"

  22. Shorter Lord KO – It is ok for Lib government to prorogue for political reasons when it has a majority but it is beyond the pale, and maybe a threat to democracy, when a Con minority government does same.

    Speaking as a supporter of none of the major parties, I don't find your argument very persuasive.

  23. Was too! It was steam-fired, but it existed.

  24. So, how many people are on your favorite Facebook page now Wherry? Has the membership caught up with the group "When I'm Super Bored, I Go On Facebook and Join Tons of Pointless Groups”?

    They have 159,280 members by the way.

    Maybe you can check Twitter next, or My Space for shocking facts and in depth opinions and link some quotes.

    Top notch journalism from a truly unbiased reporter.

  25. Your neverending whine is like the hiss of a kettle with too little water.

  26. If your comments became any more superficial, they'd vanish.

    Work on it.

  27. I don't find your argument very persuasive

    Well, good, because that wasn't my argument.

    My argument was that there's a manifest difference between a PM with the support of the majority of the House of Commons proroguing Parliament because he can't stand to look his former Finance Minister in the eye, and a PM with less than 50% support in the House proroguing Parliament in order to shut down a Parliamentary investigation and avoid questions as to why his government is refusing to give over to the House documents that they have requested via a majority vote on the floor of the House of Commons.

    Simply put, a situation in which a government composed of 47% of our elected representatives are ignoring the other 53% is much more troubling than a government of 55% of our elected representatives ignoring the other 45%, and I'd have thought that was patently obvious.

    There are a myriad of reasons for which a majority PM could prorogue Parliament that I'd find perfectly acceptable, and a smaller myriad of reasons I'd find acceptable in the case of a minority PM. However, "I don't want to talk about the things Parliament wants to ask me about, or do the things they've asked me to do via open majority votes on the floor of the House" definitely doesn't make that second list. As Coyne has explained, prorogation itself isn't the big problem, the big problem (IMHO, not Coyne's) is proroguing Parliament immediately after deciding to ignore a demand made through a majority vote in the House, and while a Parliamentary Committee is engaged in an ongoing investigation into serious matters (which you continue to stonewall and attempt to impede). You could likely convince me that other PM's in history have prorogued Parliament in manners as dangerous as this latest example, but I think you'll have to go back much further than Chretien. I think the timing and context of Harper's prorogation brings the supremacy of Parliament into pretty serious question, and I'm not sure there's been a prorogation of such serious import in my lifetime.

  28. Not so good with the maths are ya? See 65,000 out of 30 million is a much higher ratio than 160,000 out of 6.7 billion.

  29. "Simply put, a situation in which a government composed of 47% of our elected representatives are ignoring the other 53% is much more troubling than a government of 55% of our elected representatives ignoring the other 45%, and I'd have thought that was patently obvious. "

    Not to me it isn't. Tyranny of the majority is just as bad as tyranny of the minority.

    It is interesting that you think Chretien proroguing Parliament twice in a little over a year because he and Martin are squabbling, and Chretien wanted to avoid answering questions about Libs and money laundering, is acceptable because they had majority.

    As far as I am concerned, what Harper has done now is certainly no worse than what Chretien and Martin did during their 12 year reign. I have been moaning for at least a decade about MPs having little regard for Parliament and its rules so I am not bent out of shape by what Harper has done.

    • I have been whinging for more than a decade about MPs having little regard for Parliament and its rules/traditions so I am not bent out of shape by what Harper has done now.

      Ha. It's kinda like that Facebook group the NP was promoting that was apathetic about the prorogation. The stated reason for their apathy? (almost certainly facetious, but still) Well, the reasoning was, basically, "we're already living under a dictatorship that ignores Parliament, and all Steven Harper has done is make our dictatorial situation more clear, so why get all bent out of shape that a PM and government who feel free to ignore Parliament and hold them in contempt anyway, decided to prorogue?"

  30. Funny – for a self-professed "pox on both their houses" kind of guy, your pox always seems directed at Chretien's house.

    I have yet to hear a condemnation from you of Harper's actions. It's just Chretien, Chretien, Chretien.

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