What’s at stake

Andrew Coyne on why prorogation is an insult to Parliament

Just to reassure anyone who might be in any doubt: I am not actually calling for civil war. What the government has done is not illegal. It is merely wrong: an abuse of process, an insult to Parliament, another step on Parliament’s long slide into irrelevance. Those of us who worried about the precedent set by the last prorogation of convenience, during the coalition crisis a year ago, must now worry about the even worse precedent this sets.

Prorogation the last time sailed close to the wind of unconstitutionality — the government had not actually lost the confidence of the House (as it had in May 2005, when Paul Martin’s government barricaded itself in office for nine days), but was almost certainly about to — but could be justified, perhaps, by reasons of state: namely, to avert the far more destabilizing consequences if the coalition, Bloc and all, had been allowed to seize power. I rather think that’s why the Governor General acceded to it, as the least bad option. I said at the time that she gave the right answer to a question that should never have been asked.

But no such crisis attends the current exercise. The government’s professed rationale, that this is all about economic planning, is obvious bilge: nothing prevents a government from planning and meeting Parliament at the same time, or certainly shouldn’t. The informal justification its supporters are putting about is scarcely better: it may be inconvenient to the government that its appointees do not yet control all Senate committees, but that is no reason to shutter Parliament. It is a motive, not a defense.

So that leaves the obvious. As KDO has explained, the fact that the government is proroguing in December, rather than in late January, suggest this had more to do with shutting down inquiries into the Afghanistan detainee affair than anything else. Is this what we should now expect: governments shutting down Parliament whenever the questioning gets too intense? What will remain of Parliament’s ability, already greatly weakened, to hold governments to account then?

Each time Parliament allows one of these abuses to pass, its power is reduced a little more. Indeed, so diminished has it become that it is hard for some observers to muster much indignation at this latest assault: it’s only Parliament, after all. It’s exactly this sort of whittling away by degrees that has allowed closure, for example, to be invoked more or less routinely to cut of Parliamentary debates, where once it was to be used only in the most extreme circumstances. It was the improper use of closure, recall, that set off the wild, four-week brawl known as the Pipeline Debate. Now, nobody can be bothered.

The time has long since passed for Parliament to take a stand against its own evisceration. The really substantive issue is whether the government will yield to the Commons demand that it produce the Colvin documents, and perhaps that fight can be resumed in March. But proroguing to delay that day of reckoning, possibly in hopes of sneaking through another snap election in the interval, is worthy of some sort of Parliamentary rebuke, which is why the symbolic measure (and it could only be that) of MPs meeting in another place came to mind.

I recognize that Parliament always retains the ultimate sanction of voting no confidence in the government — or at least, on those days that the government will allow it to do so, or deigns to bring forward legislation, or recognizes confidence votes when they occur (see Paul Martin, above). But this is a very blunt instrument. It shouldn’t have to take a vote of non-confidence to get the government to obey basic norms of accountability. I don’t mean only that the government should observe conventions of respect for Parliament, regardless of whether it is conforming to the strict letter of the law. I also mean there should be mechanisms for curbing such abuses, short of dissolving Parliament.

For example, should the power to prorogue rest solely with the Prime Minister (I know, I know: the Governor General, acting on his advice)? Should it not require a vote of Parliament? Might the same rule not also apply to dissolutions?




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What’s at stake

  1. Why do some fools keep insisting on the silly notion that there was some kind of non-confidence vote in 2005 before the actual vote? Rules is rules, you may wish the rules were different but there we are. What purpose does it serve these people? We may never know.

    And this prorogation is bad and upsetting but not nearly as bad as the first one. The GG mad a bad call (the reasons the author gives aren't sufficient to justify not letting them try to govern, its just reasons the attempt might not have worked), but it was her call to make. It's just stuff we live with as Canadians.

    • the GG, Coyne, and O'Mally have yet to accept that Mr. Harper's conservatism radicalizes; it brutalizes, abuses, and then denies and evades… that is the nature of radicalism. History is replete with this process and its consequences. The above ope ed is the first true sign that Mr. Coyne is waking up to the situation… a sign of congnition.

    • if Mr "CBC Made-for-TV Conservative is angry, it's clearly a brilliant move.

    • Thanks.

      It's a pity The O'Malley is such a waif, she being worth her weight in gold and all.

    • Has Kady finally figured out that Mr. Harper is no democrate… now that would be news!

  2. Since it's a day for depressing observation of the decline of our Parliament AC i'll toss in another. Bad as the behaviour of Harper has been, there's no real evidence the opposition parties have any more love, regard or respect for Parliament. SH didn't just appear out of a vacuum, he's merely the lastest manifestation of a long line of politicians who do not respect the process, or the people who the process is intended to protect and shelter. Does anyone who can recall really believe that Parliamentarians of the Pearson/Diefenbaker and even the Trudeau/Mulroney era have stood for this? Where the hell's the passion for this country all gone?

    • "SH didn't just appear out of a vacuum, he's merely the lastest manifestation of a long line of politicians who do not respect the process, or the people who the process is intended to protect and shelter."

      Kcm, I have to disagree. Harper's absolute lack of respect for our Parliament is in a class of its own. Chretien was one hell of a piece of work but I seriously doubt that even he would have gone this far.

      You are right about Harper not appearing out of a vacuum. Since the man arrived to power, his distortion of our democracy has been called "chess master-like" genius by the Ottawa crowd. The 10 percenters, the election-type ads outside of the writ period, his deliberate sabotage of committee work, refering to the would-be coalition as a "coup" and its members as "seditionists," the list goes on. All of it has led us to this. I honestly don't see why we are surprised.

      • Look up "Shawinigate". There is nothing Jean Chretien would not have done but it is pretty cute how you tink he had any morals at all. He prorogued parliament 4 time with majority governements for personal reasons. Paul Martin once. Geez, all of a sudden we think these options are undemocratic. Where was the protest back then?
        The 10%? You mean like "body bags before inoculations"? Yup, those were horrible. A bit one-sided aren't we?

        • It amazes me how quickly the left forget this is what JC and Martin did.Was it this awful abuse of power then, I think not! The left is pissed off and the right is not, suck it up left, because I dont care what you think right now, just as you didnt care when that horrible man JC did it!!!

      • Wake me up when Government of Canada funds are diverted into political party coffers as the Liberals did with their elaborated kickback scheme called Adscam.

        MIsappropriating Government of Canda funds and diverting same to Liberal Party of Canada bank accounts.

        That was criminal for sure, but also anti-democratic because it put the Liberals on an unlevel playing field.

        As I say PJ, wake me up when that happens.

        • oh Jarrid, on the eve of a new decade can't you find something more up to date to recycle in your posts?

        • Do you mean *again*? Or does "in and out" not count?

        • Do the free "Liberal" lunches ever end?

  3. The time has long since passed for Parliament to take a stand against its own evisceration.

    Good luck with that Constitutional amendment, Andrew. As you state, nothing here was illegal. All Parliament's got, basically, is a rebuke (or perhaps as far as non-confidence) to vote on when they get the chance.

    I personally do not want the House of Commons to tell Her Excellency's First Minister what advice he or she is permitted to offer, anymore than I want the courts to attempt to dictate our government's foreign policy activities. The government is there for a reason. If someone breaks the law, we have a police force and an independent judiciary. If the government is acting contrary to the people's interest, the people have their say at the next go-round. Added bonus: with a minority government, anything egregious can prompt the very act of dissolution you decry, and the people will have their say. Anything that ultimately defaults to the people having their say is not a bad thing.

    I also mean there should be mechanisms for curbing such abuses, short of dissolving Parliament. But what's the abuse? As you admit, the law is being followed, here. Do we leave it to Coyne to define what is abusive-yet-legal that should qualify for whatever "mechanism" you are hoping for? Who elected you?

    • So you're basically happy with a PM abusing the process as long as the people eventually get their say during an election? You say you don't want the courts to dictate foreign or very likely any other policy. But surely that's exactly where we're headed if this brazen disrespect for parliamentary process continues? The courts will inevitably be drawn in more and more as convention, and perhaps respect for the law itself, is overridden by political expediency – get used to it. Unless we find a way to make Parliament relevent again power will continue to be held in fewer hands…and more and more unelected ones at that. In a way this has been a long time coming…we've just been waiting for just the right sort of SOB to bring it to a head.

      • I have no problem with "making Parliament relevant" again. But the way to do that is to change the rules that permitted Parliament to fall in relevance. Whining about somebody acting within the law is silly — if it's so bad, then change the law. And yes, that may have to mean a constitutional amendment that defines a Parliamentary session. Coynian harrumphing is inadequate justification for "unwritten" rules to be amended on a whim. Although, I suppose, since the rules are unwritten, maybe the whim is all the amendment has going for it anyways…

        • myl's dictionary apparently does not include "moral suasion". If it's not explicitly outined in a law, it's not worth discussing. A "whim" in other words, parliamentary tradition and precedent be damned.

      • The opinion of elitist procedural nags like Coyne is irrelevent. The people of Canada matter.

        "as long as the people eventually get their say during an election?"

        Yes, exactly, this is a democracy isn't it ?

        There has been talk of this for weeks now.

        If the opposition wanted an election every single member could have writen a letter to Jean telling her that they have lost confidence in the gov't and request that she deny prorogation and call an election.

        I mean, either you have the will of the people behind your or you don't. Acting in a manner that is suitable to the people is what democracy is all about.

        • " "as long as the people eventually get their say during an election?"

          Yes, exactly, this is a democracy isn't it ? "

          That's sort of the problem. People seem to think that democracy is DEFINED by elections. Elected representation is an integral part of democracy, but doesn't define it. Voting every once in a while does not free responsible citizens from holding a government to account throughout its mandate, especially if there are legitimate questions regarding the electoral system (FPTP), the role of party "discipline" (power of the PMO), or the inbalance of influence accruing to those with the time and money to make representations to Parliament (lobbyists, for one).

          The way our system is set up, elections just provide a validation of a political system. In my view, that's not sufficient to establish our system as "democratic"

        • We send representatives on our behalf to take care of government business.

          We don't need an election every time Harper feels contempt for the power of the House.

        • Or, instead of denying prorogation and calling an election, denying prorogation and asking around to see if there's anyone else who feels like taking a shot at doing what they were elected to do: governing.

    • The problem here is that Coyne and his ilk don't like the rules so they figure by bashing the government in the media that will solve the problem. He should know Harper better than that after four years in power. Do we honestly believe that the Libs would pass laws that would reduce the power of the PM and PMO. They have thrived on these rules formst of the last century. So we can change parties/governments until the cows come home but nothing will change if it reduces the influence of the PMO.
      However, the faux outrage day after day is doing nothing to motivate the public. It is all white noise and they are busy living their lives. Ask the ordinary Canadian if they agree with prorogation. Their eyes will glaze over and they will ask what that means. Coyne and the rest of the the nattering classes need to get a life and worry about things that mean somthing to the seriously ordinary Canadians who vote.

      • "The problem here is that Coyne and his ilk don't like the rules so they figure by bashing the government in the media that will solve the problem."

        Go back to you Blogging Tory echo-chamber, wingnut.

    • I agree with you madeyoulook.

      And in addition, the writers on these pages have long condemned the activities in parliament. So Harper pulls the plug so that it can start anew, and now they're claiming we can't live without the their antics.

      The fact is, legislation cannot be enacted without parliament. It cannot and will not be removed. There is nothing to see here. No laws have been broken and therefore no actions are required.

  4. Dilusional Harper seems to believe that he is "THE MESSIAH" sent by his GOD to save Canada from the evil Liberals. Harper seems to believe that he has the "DIVINE RIGHT' to make up the rules, if it suits him. Maybe in his fundamentalist church "BLIND OBEDIENCE' is the mode of operation, but Parliament is NOT his church. Harper, obviously, cannot tolerate criticism. Harper seems to think that no-one has the right to make fun of all his imperfections—after all, GOD is PERFECT ! Harper's hiding behind the Governor-General every time a real problem arises is very unbefitting a Leader who holds himself so arrogantly above everyone else. Purposely making parliament dysfunctional is a crime. I am fed-up with the life-long squabbling of the 'TWO EVIL PRINCES' —the Conservatives and Liberals—wasting time and billions of taxes fighting over who has the right to sit on the THRONE of Canada and pretending they are doing what is good for Canadians. Canadians should wise-up and vote NDP, just once, and give those 2 EVIL Princes a kick in the butt. Maybe then Parliament would start functioning properly. Then maybe real DEMOCRACY would prevail instead of the FARCE we have now.

    • The NDP is no more interested in "real democracy" than the consiberals or the libervatives are, they just want their chance to sit on the throne of Canada and make the decisions for a while.
      We do NOT live in a democracy, and never have. It is impossible for a REAL democracy to function with representatives, because they can not always know what you want, can be driven by their own agendas (hidden or otherwise) and can be "bought" by lobbies.
      Only a small-scale direct democracy, at the municipal level, will ultimately end this charade.

    • Jimynee, your post speaks volumes. PMSH is no more of a demigod than Uncle Jean Chretien was. As has been said in previous posts, where was all this self righteous indignation when Chretien behaved much, much worse than Harper could even dream to? Do you seriously think the NDP could do even half as well or that they wouldn't stoop even lower than Chretien could? After all, the NDP represents folks who routinely label those that stand against them as "deniers", "racists, "evil" or even worse. They consistently poll about 12 to 15 percent of the population as supporting them. To have the country run by a party that represents 12 percent of Canada would be democratic? Gimme a break….

      • If the NDP have not learned from the stupidity of Harper and Cretien and Martin, then they would not be any different. They would have to govern according to what would be best for Canadians NOT just the wealthy Elite or the CIA. If they do not behave, then give them the BOOT at the next election. Canada is a democracy not a dictatorship—elections have to be called. Harper is acting like a spoiled brat that has been ignored and is now taking out his anger on Parliament—-his presence at Copenhagen was barely acknowledged and was considered "small potatoes" even by Obama. What a slap in the face especially when Harper will not do anything unless he gets approval from the US President or the CIA. Now he wants to stack the SENATE so he wouldn't have any opposition there. Cretien had majority governments—Harper could ONLY manage minorities TWICE. I guess he is not the best for Canada.

  5. We have always had Senators who followed the dictates of the prime minsiter or their caucus. But promising to obey the dictates of the prime minister was not a sine qua non condition to their appointment. For one, Jean-Robert Gauthier, who is very close to me mind and heart these days, would never have accepted the job in the Senate had he had to promise to vote according to the dictates of the prime minister who appointed him!

    • But Loraine, Where were you when Chretien was stuffing the Senate with Liberal hacks for years to the point that he turned it into the automatic Liberal voting machine. The Senate will be reformed but first we must wait for these Liberals to get old.

      • I was here and listening and I don't remember any senators being nominated on the condition that they obey the dictates of the prime minister. Do you? It's plainly written in my newspaper, Soudas is quoted in Le Devoir, that the senators appointed by Harper promise to obey the dictates of the prime minister on senate reform – no matter what the bulk of the testimonies from constitutional expert says, they will not do their job and provide Canadians the sobre second thought that it is their job to provide – they publicly promise to obey the person who appointed them. Now if you can remember Chrétien doing this, give me a link. Chrétien appointed Jean-Robert Gauthier, a liberal MP who voted against the patriation of the Constitution in 1982. Martin appointed Hugh Segal, a well-known Conservatives who used to appear on TV once a week and who is suddenly mute.

        And if you believe that Senator Brazeau will step down in seven years you are terribly naive.

        The only reform worth considering is the one the good old senators have been considering: get the senators out of the political caucuses.

        • 'the senators appointed by Harper promise to obey the dictates of the prime minister on senate reform'

          So what's your point?
          Do you think previous PMs appointed Senators that would 'disobey' their leader!
          All PMs appoint Senators with like ideology….

          • My point is that Harper's senators demonstrably don't even have to know how to read. They don't have to read the legislative texts that are sent from the HoC to the Senate for sober second thought, and they can sleep during committee hearings because no matter the value of the legislative text or the preponderence of expert opinion heard at committee they'll vote as Harper dictates them to do. They publicly promise to do this. This is all over the newspapers.

            I don't THINK that previous PMs appointed Senators that would disobey their leader. I KNOW THEY DID. Hugh Segal was appointed to the Senate by a liberal who knew Segal would sit in the Conservative caucus. Chrétien appointed Jean-Robert Gauthier knowing that as a liberal MP Gauthier had voted against the patriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights.

            Now name me one, just one Senator, appointed by Harper who:
            Is sitting on the Liberal side,
            Has voted against an important Conservative Governement legislation,
            Has not promised to vote as dictated by Harper

            I'll be waiting for your reply. I want names.

          • Bear in mind that if the PM appoints only those Senators that share his view of the Senate, as is his prerogative, then they would not see themselves as having the moral authority to thwart legislation passed by the House. Agree with them or not it is a principled basis for being a rubber stamp.

          • Rubber stamp??**!!??

            Thwart legislation???**!!! Unlike conservative propagandist who were still in diapers during the Chrétien years, I base my opinion on facts.

            I remember that the Liberal majority in the Senate refused to approve Chrétien's Clarity Act. In order to have the Liberal majority in the Senate approve it Chrétien had to appoint four new Senators.

            And how about the bill on cruelty to animals put forward by Chrétien which the Liberal majority in the Senate refused to pass FOR EIGHT YEARS!!!!

            In the Harper-style of Upper House where Senators vote according to the dictates of the prime minister Senators will truly be rubber stamps. In the former Liberal-style they were not. They caused a lot more trouble than most seem to remember.

          • Please calm down, you missed my point entirely. By the way, if you had added a fifth exclamation point after "EIGHT YEARS!!!!" I might have agreed with you.

            Anyway, my point is this is nothing more pernicious than a difference of opinion between people like you, who believe the unelected Senate should block legislation when it deems appropriate, and people like Stephen Harper, who believe that it has no democratic legitimacy to do so.

            Stephen Harper would be expected to appoint senators who agree with him on the Senate ie. he appoints people who more or less agree with his ideology, which is what every PM has done (you can point to Hugh Segal all you want but the Senate was pretty safely in Liberal hands at the time which Mr. Martin would never have put in jeopardy). Since they also believe that the Senate has no legitimate basis to block legislation passed by the people's elected House, they don't.

          • If Harper does not believe the Senate is legitimate, he should say so and do something about it – like be honest with Canadians and argue for constitutional reform.

            As for the rest, there is a difference between appointing people because they are like minded, and appointing people with the demand they support his legislation. That is obvious.

        • Great news loraine about the old Liberal Senators getting out of the Liberal caucus. Did this happen during the height of Liberal patronage when they had more than 75 percent of Senate seats? Could you provide a link to this Liberal consideration, you know, when they were considering it.

  6. I also mean there should be mechanisms for curbing such abuses

    ***

    And I know I keep asking this, but are we all sure that there aren't? Anybody? Anybody? Don't make me try to research this myself, I hate doing that.

  7. It doesn't hold, Coyne. You can't applaud Harper's last demand for prorogation yet be outraged at this one. This last one is just a natural progression as far as I am concerned.

    Harper had no grounds to demand a prorogation the first time. A coalition government is a natural occurence in a parliamentary democracy. Harper had lost the confidence of the House and should have submitted to it.

    If you can find justification for his first abuse of power, you must also accept his latest one.

    And be warned, there will be more of this. Harper got away with it the first time with the blessing of many in Ottawa, including you, so why would he stop there? He will get away with it again this time and the next. This is the monster that was allowed to be created.

    • You can't applaud Harper's last demand for prorogation yet be outraged at this one. This last one is just a natural progression as far as I am concerned.

      Why not, PolJunkie?

      I have no problem with the last proroguation. It prevented the installation of a coalition which was so unstable it couldn't even hold together for the 6 weeks or so that Parliament was prorogued. History may remember that one as the best proroguation of Parliament ever.

      I like this one much less, although I have less problem with it than most it would seem.

      • Pretty arbitrary don't you think – you liked the last, but not this one. In neither case did we have a say. This is completely at the discretion of the PM…it's a bloody disgrace…it was then, it is now. PJ is right. AC's not very consistent on this. He rationalized it away then like yourself. Although to be fair i believe Coyne has consistently argued this power should no longer reside solely with the PM.

      • If the coalition was 'so unstable it couldn't even hold together for the 6 weeks', then it would presumably have fallen and an election would have resulted. Sounds like a more acceptable outcome to me.

      • john g, if you were fine with Harper using prorogation to avoid a vote of non confidence the first time, why then, pray tell, would you "like this one much less?"

        You are not making sense.

  8. "The really substantive issue is whether the government will yield to the Commons demand that it produce the Colvin documents, and perhaps that fight can be resumed in March."

    It won't do that either. Clearly, Harper plans to introduce a budget right away so as to force the Opposition to either support him or go to the polls. Some may say that this would give the Liberals until March to be ready for an election but I'm sure Harper calculated that without the House in session, he will have the upper hand in the upcoming PR war. He is the Prime Minister which gives him a clear advantage in being able to get the voters' attention.

    I'm so disguted with it all.

    • Sorry for your luck. It seems to p.ss you off that the PM is exercising the powers of his office. He is outgunning the opposition and the media and they don't like it one little bit. Look at the Nanos poll of yesterday. Canadians clearly prefer Harper over the alternatives.

      Trouble is the media and the opposition never find anything good to say. Its simply criticism ad nauseum and therefore the public has turned a blind eye and ears to the cacophony of white noise coming from Parliament and certainly from the media. They have all lost their credibility in the eyes of the Canadian people.

    • Once again because the opposition demands the documents does not mean they are entitled to them. The documents requested are reviewed by independent lawyers who follow the law in respect to the privacy act and national security. It is they who will determine what is released and what is redacted and what is withheld. Harper does not spend his evenings putting black marker through sections of documents he does not want people to see despite what you may believe.

      Yes the PM does have a clear advantage. That is how it has been since the beginning of our democracy. I know it bothers people like you that a Conservative government is in power but sh.t happens. You need to learn to live with it. Your life will be much happier and the disgust will go away over time.

  9. AC,

    Parliament, along with the PPG has created the irrelevance. The only thing reported by newspapers and TV are soundbites from QP, and they make hardworking Canadians nauseous, so the reaction to this outside of Ottawa is zero. Hard core political junkies like myself, and I suspect most who read this blog care, but we comprise about 1% of the public.

    • Outside the Ottawa bubble, people are going to see the dates in late January and early March, conclude that a couple of weeks of QP-yelling will be forgone, and wonder what the hell the pundits and the opposition are in hysterics over.

    • The masses aren't ignorant. They despise the partisan bickering. And they deeply care about "bread and butter" issues.

      That is, issues that actually affect them.

      Moreover, the public will always shun academic level critique's if the acceptance of that critique jeopardizes the bread and butter.

      Something the inside-the-beltway media just simply cannot comprehend.

      And something the polls are indicating as Nanos showing Harper's leadership numbers through the roof.

  10. Look, the people of this country will figure it out. They typically get the government they want and deserve.

    Perhaps the Liberals and the NDP will take this time to work out some sort of a strategic alliance — not a full merger like the Reform and the PCs, but something more along the lines of the CDU/FDP coalition in Germany.

    Who knows — something good and long-lasting may yet come out of this?

    • That's a good idea. When Harper hands you guys lemons … make lemonade !

    • "Perhaps the Liberals and the NDP will take this time to work out some sort of a strategic alliance — not a full merger like the Reform and the PCs, but something more along the lines of the CDU/FDP coalition in Germany."

      My thoughts exactly, Anon. That is the only way out of this impasse. If the LPC/NDP leadership really cares about this country and its democratic future, they will make use of this time off to work out a scenario where they can join forces to take Harper out.

      Harper is only as strong as the Opps parties allow him to be. His entire strategy stands on a house of cards, the house being the NDP and the Libs cancelling each other out at every election. We already know that Layton would be open to it. The question is whether the Lib high ups will finally realize that only a joint approach with the NDP will get them back in power.

      I can't stand Iggy but I'll take 10 of him any day if it means ridding ourselves of Harper. The man has gone from being a beligerent Reformer to an outright danger to Canada's democratic institutions. He must be stopped.

  11. This 5 week delay in Parliament reconvening is keeping Mr. Coyne awake at night I see.

    Well it's been a relatively slow news week I suppose but there is hardly anything unprecedented about proroguing Parliament until March 3rd. Nothing at all.

  12. So last year, we had the drama of the meeting with the GG — what WILL she decide? — and the long cars crossing the street from 24 Sussex to Rideau Hall. We had the press waiting out in the snow; we had Harp, with his turtle-waxed hair, announcing the prorogation from a special podium on the steps of Rideau Hall.

    So this year it's just a phone call? Where is the GG?

    Madame, face the angry Canadians and explain yourself. With this move, harper has accomplished further destroying several insitutions: Parliament, and the vice regal.

    Next year: text message.

    • Chrétien prorogued Parliament four times. The 5 week proroguation means the loss of a mere 15 working days.

      Time to temper the "outrage", MJ Patchouli.

      What next? Getting your knickers in a knot because Stephen Harper's tie doesn't match his suit. Sheeesh.

    • Patchouli, don't take out your anger on Michaelle. She had no choice but to grant him what he wanted. What would have been the alternative?

    • Just so you know the PM is not in Ottawa. Hence the need for a phone call. This is the 21st century buddy. Get a life and join it.

      • yeah, something as insignificant as the annual prorogue festival is just worth calling in, right?

        he oughtta get his fat arse back to ottawa and work for his salary.

  13. I believe I am one of the majority of Canadians who couldn't care less about the Afghan detainee issue. All I need to know is that we Canadians didn't do any torturing. We are in Afghanistan to aid a government we have recognized as being legitimately elected. Of course we turn over their own citizens to them. What's the alternative? We jail them? Give them Canadian trials? Let them go? The only real issue I can see is, if we don't agree with the actions of the Afghan government, then maybe we should reconsidered our presence in their country.

    If overheated rhetoric about this irrelevant issue is making all other business of parliament impossible, then I sympathize with the Tories move to shut it down, but I don't agree. I expect the elected government to do it's job, as best it can, minority or not. That means continuing to try to work as they should not running away.

    • A 15 day stall of Parliament is not running away.
      All committees will reconvene.
      But the media and Opps are angry because there will be a new focus, on their favorite 'election speculation',
      and the 3 year old detainee issue will fade, as it should, 3 years ago already.

      • That's what the gotcha sleazy journalists in the country and of course the opposition are afraid of. The air will be out of that balloon and they will once again have nothing.

        They are also afraid that Harper will engineer his own defeat in the Spring and we will have an election which will ensure the detainee issue dies the death that it deserves.

        Canadians are watching this charade (maybe not) and they are saying a pox on all their houses. They have lost interest but they know one thing there are only two choices in the next election. A carpetbagger or the current PM who has helped the country through the worse recession we have seen in a very long time. The media know that Harper is going to be re-elected and if they can hold him to another minority they will have achieved their goal.

      • You realize that the media will decide what they focus on, right?

        You have also just basically admitted Harper did this to run away.

        Heh.

    • Canadians need the government to be clear and honest about our support or condemnation of the torture of detainees. This issue is of vital importance to soldiers on the front lines who could find themselves facing trials for war crimes at the World Court should they appear to condone of abet countries which do torture prisoners. It's not good enough to simply say that we don't actually torture prisoners ourselves. We place soldiers in a real dilemma if our position is not clear and above reproach. Furthermore the issue is not even about the torture issue =it's about the governments alleged cover-up of the facts concerning the issues and the treatment of those who dare to criticize the government on a number of fronts. Be very concerned.

    • Sympathize and empathize, but do not agree – right you are!

    • If Bob Rae and Paul Dewar do not have a forum to talk about the Afghan detainee issue now that H1N1 has expired they will surely implode from self rightouness. So Harper is clearly doing a favour for all Canadians.

  14. Meanwhile, the majority of Canadians are blissfully unaware of the systematic dismantling of their parliamentary democracy, some perhaps thinking that they'll try a dictatorship for a while to see if they like it or not.

    • "the majority of Canadians are blissfully unaware of the systematic dismantling of their parliamentary democracy". Exactly kick, because they could care less. Committees, if you watch any televised, are just more political theater. Opposition members try to score points, government members deflect, and on and on and on. Face it, for the most part this country is run by bureaucrats. Politicians come and go. I remember exactly one stimulating national debate, on free trade, we had an election about it and it was settled. What since? Little things.

    • What moronic bluster! I feel sorry for you if you believe one word you have written.

  15. The people are always right. If the fall session of parliament had been an intense debate between a righteous opposition and an evil government about some grand injustice forced onto Canadians, then we would be anxiously waiting until March to toss those bums out.

    But the people have seen an opp. spend it`s time in parliament hysterically screaming about non-existent pandemics and dredging up fantasy war crimes in Afghanistan.

    We may demand good government but we know a minority government must operate with a responsible opp. If that doesn`t happen then we will elect a majority one.

  16. Mr. Coyne, are you for real? Or are you just trying to bolster readership of your dreary bleeding heart magazine?

  17. Oh gee, now there will be 15 days less of 45 minutes of QP,
    with MPs using parliamentary privilege to call each other liars and fake outrage about the faux scandal of the day….

    And in the new year, when Liberals pass tough on crime legislation in the House, they have to mean it.
    Because Lib Senators won't be able to play 'bad guy', and stop it.
    There's some REAL accountability for yah Coyne.

    The media resurrected a 3 year old detainee story,
    following the media lead, the Opps pile on……because they have NOTHING else constructive to do but rag on a 'shoe'.

    Get out of Ottawa MPs, and get your instructions from your real Boss,
    not the media, your boss the Canadian Taxpayer.

    • I'm a Canadian Taxpayer, and I say, "Get the f**k back to work!"

    • So.
      It was speculation, not grounded on any facts. If you are trying to point out a flip flop, better come up with something else, this doesn't cut it.

      • How about it being "grounded" on the fact that it HAPPENED two weeks later.

        Also, how does one go from "The government has work to do, it has work to do in Parliament" to "we need to shut down Parliament until March". What horseshit. People are so used to Harper lying to them that they don't even flinch anymore.

      • How about it being "grounded" in the fact that it HAPPENED two weeks later!

        And how does one go from "the government has work to do, it has work to do in Parliament" to "we need to shut down Parliament until March". What horses**t! People are so used to Harper's lies that they don't even flinch anymore.

  18. Anrdew, you cannot in one breath lament the declining relevance of Parliament, and in the next, declare the prospect of a coalition (supported by the majority of MPs in that Parliament) destabilizing.

    Simple question – do you or do you not believe in the will of the majority in Parliament?

  19. Last year, it was a big deal — oh maybe to showcase the flounderingly unpopular coalition possiblity, which doesn't exist this year?

    Well, if the GG just provides the rubber stamp, why all the fuss last year? And more importantly — why a GG? Why ask for her permission if it's just for fun? Why pay for her and her family's trips north to eat seal and around the world to look cute?

    We are being had, over and over, and we're so miserably apathetic, we don't care. It would be positive if Canadians could move past seeing the Cons vs Libs as merely a hockey game, where you cheer for your team no matter what.

    • If you don't like the system run for office. No guts, no glory. Its easy to complain from the cheap seats but do you honestly believe the Libs if elected would change the system. They have thrived on it for virtually the last century. Good luck with that.

    • I think power is too concentrated and arbitrary to be considered anarchy… someone advocating anarchy would have a silver bullet to PM Harper's aspirations.

  20. When Stephen Harper delays Parliament's reconvening for 5 weeks, it's the end of democracy as we know it. An outrage I tell you. Coyne literally can't sleep at night.

    When Jean Chrétien, while in power, in a majority no less, did the same thing, where was Kady O'Malley's outrage? Where was Andrew Coyne's outrage? Where was the Toronto Star's outrage? Where was the CBC's outrage? There was none. There was none and no media stories on it. Why is that folks?

    Isn't the bigger threat to democracy Mr. Coyne, a media that favours one political party it feels a kinship to and thus withholds criticism of it and only criticizes the other party.

    Such is the state of Canada's left/lib media.

    Its middle name: selective outrage.

    • The media outrage is that they have lost their ability to 'make and break' a political leader……
      they couldn't make Iffy leader, and can't seem to dethrone Harper.

    • You should go back and read about Harper's outrage!!!

      Such is the state of hypocrisy in Harper-era Canada.

    • Amen to that jarrid !

    • Jarrid, I share yuor view about the threat to democracy. The fact that the majority of the media in this country has supported – overwhelmingly – the Conservative agenda for the past two decades, is indeed bothersome.

  21. Until you understand that the people of Canada knew that a government consisting of Layton, Duceppe, May and Dion would be incredibly destabilizing, then you and your Party are doomed.

    • And the sight of the once bold keepers of national unity, Dion and Chretien,
      kiss up and sign on the dotted line with separatists, was actually revolting.

      • You guys are such fear-mongering, clueless imbeciles. As if there haven't been separatists in Cabinet before. Who knows there might even still be some today? And do you know what? For long strteches of times they have even controlled the government of the second largest province in Canada. Shocking I know! And yet the world keeps spinning on its axis.

        Besides which all the colaition agreement stipulated as far as the Bloc goes was that they wouldn't vote against the Lib/NDP govt for 18 months in exchange for some aid for Quebec's forest industry.

        • It was what was not written that was the problem. The Bloc would be standing in the House during the day and criticizing the coalition government but by stealth of night they would be negotiating what legislation would be presented to the House. If the Bloc did not support it would never see the light of day. So the Bloc would in essence control the federal government of Canada. If it was not in the interest of Quebec be damn the rest of the country it would never happen. It would not affect just matters of confidence but all legislation. Dispute it if you will. You can't so don't bother.

          • Which is really no different than any time the Bloc support the current government, which it has done, when the Government's bills aid its decentralist agenda or benefit the province it claims to represent.

            So what's the damned difference?

          • If you don't understand the difference then I am not going to waste my time trying to explain it to you.

          • In other words, you can't handle debate, so you're essentially going to prorogue.

            Entirely predictable.

        • Of course being a Liberal you are on the side of the angels. Not!

    • How do they "know" this? Because Harper, who a while earlier while he was in opposition championed a coalition himself, said so?

      The stupidest argument made last year over this was the the "Seperatists" would be running the country. This was stupid on at least two levesl:

      1. That Harper had no problem in 2005 / 2006 to form a coalition with the bloc.
      2. How can involving the Bloc, a party that may or may not want to break free of Canada, in the Government of Canada further their agenda? If anything it would have weakened them because the other two parties would not have let them get away with anything that would have been damaging to Canada's unity and thus they would lose some support at home as they "wouldn't deliver" what was promised / needed.

      There are MANY countries out there that are run by coalition Governments, it's just that Canada for the longest time is used to elect Dictators.

  22. Oh, Dot, you can usually do better than that. Moral suasion is always around, and given the lather worked up here, folks know how to play that card. Coyne's nose is out of joint. Which is fine and dandy — but he wants to prevent, not just tut-tut, what is legal, apparently without changing the rules.

    Your / our precious Parliamentary tradition, and the law, states that the PM may advise the GG to prorogue whenever so moved. You no like? Well, you can belly-ache at macleans.ca, or you can actually do something about it.

    • Well, it's true, I could have written more – something about "you can't legislate morality" but I decided to delete it. I figured it was over the top, and not particularly relevant. Besides, when I googled the term, this one came up. I got a chuckle when I read the bolded part because it made me think of you :)

      Republican senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the [Civil Rights Act of 1964] bill, remarking, "You can't legislate morality." Goldwater had supported previous attempts to pass Civil Rights legislation in 1957 and 1960. The reason for his opposition to the 1964 bill was Title II, which he viewed as a violation of individual liberty.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_

  23. Norm Spector in today's Globe and Mail on the media's selective outrage on prorogation:

    "I don't recall reading in any paper that Jean Chrétien had “suspended” Parliament in September 2002 — a prorogation that, according to Eddie Goldenberg in The Way it Works, was designed to test whether Paul Martin had the strength in caucus to push him out of office. Nor do I recall reports of Parliament being suspended in November 2003, when, according to Paul Martin's forces in turn, Mr. Chrétien prorogued again so as to leave it to his successor to receive Sheila Fraser's report on the sponsorship program — a notion that Mr. Chrétien and his supporters vehemently reject."

    The Canadian state's business was left waiting while Liberal Party of Canada business was tended to. The media at the time thought nothing of it. Probably thought it was just peachy. What's the big deal?

    If it wasn't a big deal then, why is it now. I mean other than the fact that Stephen Harper's doing it?

    • Oh those pesky facts get in the way of a good old 'Harper is a dictator' bashing!

      • Yes and Cretien left office without much of a reputation in tact. Harper on the other hand entered office under dubious conditions and and has just kept that dubiousness getting larger and larger. Cretient did things badly, so you think Harper doing them worse is enough reason to justify his contempt for this country and the Parliament we run?

    • I think you should do yourself a favour and read how Harper was outraged at the time. Harper certainly made a big deal of it!!!

      • Was the media outraged at the time Loraine? If so, links please.

  24. I share your outrage but again I ask you? What would have been the alternative for Michaelle? If she refused him, what were her other options?

    • Election. Why not; that's where this is headed anyway. Only now it will be after the Olympics instead of on the heels of harp's refusal to hand over detainee docs, and participate in committees.

      Also, why the secrecy? Why didn't Jean put out a presser explaining harp had approached her, etc?

      • An election which we all know Harper would have won again, albeit with a minority, putting us back to square one.

        No thanks. There is but one way out of this mess and it is for the NDP and the Libs to come to an agreement for the next election. As long as the anyone but Harper voting bloc finds itself split between the NDP and the Libs, Harper remains safe and free to destroy all of the democratic institutions we hold dear.

        I don't know about you but I am clear on the fact that a minority status has not stopped Harper from inflicting severe harm to this country. He knows that he's safe and is only getting bolder.

        As long as the Libs and the Dippers keep cancelling each other out, an election is pointless.

  25. Lots of short term memories here.

    Chretien shut down the Somalia inquiry. Harper is only delaying the Afghan investigation. Which is worse?

    The limits of parliamentary privilege have not beened tested by the courts, and Parliament has heretofore been wise not to force the issue to the courts about whether the laws of Canada apply to parliamentarians or whether they don't.

    The Canadian system is designed to force these issues to elections for the people to decide, rather than the courts. This is not a big constitutional crisis. This is just a bunch of opposition parties in a minority parliament too cowardly to vote non-confidence in the government.

    If the government is as bad as the opposition suggests, defeat it, instead of whining and complaining about it.

    • As they say no guts, no glory.

  26. 100% – Andrew has captured the true essence of this issue…..and why it should matter to Canadians. Now what I want to know is……what can I do about it? I know there is nothing that can be done to stop Harper in this, that what is done is done. But how can we register our disapproval now? Grass roots referendum anyone?

    • ''Grass roots referendum anyone?''

      Ahhhh…music to an old Reformer's ears.
      Preston Manning was a decade ahead of the pack.

  27. ahhhh…new speaking points. How refreshing Jarrid.

  28. An election the Boss (Cdn Taxpayers) don't want.
    Just like last year, a coalition of losers seizing power, that the Boss didn't want.

  29. Since a lot of our constitution is unwritten, and people's attitude is if it's not illegal than it is ok, pols have been abusing the system for at least 15 years.

    If the best we can come up with is a handful of people whining "it's not ok therefore it shouldn't happen even if we don't care to expressly so state in law," then you will continue to have this problem.

    • Agreed. Parliamentarians use to think about honour or being responsible your department's actions but not anymore. Now they wonder if it's illegal, and if it isn't, than it is ok to do whatever you like.

      And If MPs are going to do whatever the hell they like, than I think we should consider writing down more rules and regs to guide them.

  30. If that's what you got you got nuthin.

    The Somalia inquiry wouldn't necessarily have implicated the prime minister's office, the protestor stuff was fleeting and actually a bit funny (if somebody got in my face like that I might push him away too), and there was nothing wrong with not honouring a non-confidence vote that isn't actually a non-confidence vote. A week later the opposition did it properly and everything was fine.

    The only thing of real lasting consequence in that list resulted in the only time in Canadian history a government has willingly investigated its own actions (I don't like the libs that much either, but I do give Paul Martin credit for that).

  31. The question is not whether what other governments have done in the past should be defended. The question is, can the current government''s decision be defended as reasonable and responsible? Clearly, the decision is neither resonable nor responsible. The excuses offered for shutting down parliament, against the will of parliament are not definsible.

    Arguing that – the other guy did it, so we can too – does not help sustain a parliamentary democracy. It undermines it. Parliamentary democarcy is a messy and contentious form of government but it is open to scrutiny. I worry that before long we'll be saying – well it WAS open to scrutiny, and the opposition DID do what it was supposed to do but we failed to pay atention and now ….

  32. "protestor stuff was fleeting and actually a bit funny"

    So it is ok for our PM to strangle people, and knock them to the ground, because it is fleeting and funny?

    I just asked a few of my friends, Mike T, and we are all agreed it would be ok for Harper to strangle you if you're ever in his presence because it would be funny. And you should not mind being strangled by the PM because it will only last a few seconds, fleeting really, so it should be no problem.

    • You don't think it's okay for our PM to defend himself in the case where someone gets past his security and comes at him? I thought it was appropriate, and also a little funny. I would think the same if Stephen Harper did it, though I don't imagine he would. At this point, I would expect to see him waiting for the Governor General to come and bail him out.

  33. Personally I'm finding blogs like Andrews and the various editorials and stories found in almost every paper from coast to coast declaring how Canada is losing or has lost their democracy due to this latest stunt by Harper to be bordering on funny to hysterical. The media is reaping what it has sown over the years. When did democracy start to die depend on your age and who you are and what you remember? If you look carefully history is being re-written everyday depending on the circumstances of the Government of the day. Everyday all levels of Governments are becoming more autocratic because the Governments attitude is that “they know better”. The media allows this by not questioning and not digging for the real news.
    If as much ink had been spent on the OPP/Caledonia/Native occupation as has been on the Afghan Detainee story then I might think that the reporters/newspapers care about democracy but they don't. It's all about scoring points and making the news fit the perception of Democracy. Everyone has been complacent and perhaps every reporters New Years resolution should be to report the news as it is and not a perception of the news of how you want it to be.

  34. He is welcome to try! heh. And if I run at him like that protestor, in the heat of hte moment he might even be justified.

  35. Fair enough, Andy … you made you pedantic point about proroguing Parliament and no chance for the Opposition to excoriate the gov't over the Torture of Taliban Detainees, that you and the MSM have bought from Colvin's testimony. No sitting of the HoCs from Jan 25 to March 3 .. big whoopie … and then a Throne Speech and Budget.

    If we have another election this March-April and the Conservatives win a majority gov't, will you honourably step down as macleans editor and just go write books … because you are out of tune with Canadians and Canada.

  36. Andrew, I don't see how you can support the former prorogation and not the current. The only rationale you and the Conservatives can put forward to support the first prorogation is that, were the House allowed to continue sitting, something bad would happen (ie the coalition). But that is exactly the same rationale here. The coaltion was supported by the majority of the people's representatives. Whether it was bad or not should not have been a matter for the GG, it is a subjective decision. This latest prorogation is also to prevent the people's represetatives from doing bad things – controling the Senate, holding investigations, etc. In the first prorogation the government was preventing the House from performing its main duty – deciding on confidence in the government. The GG prevented parliament from expressing its lack of confidence. That is far more serious than delaying some hearings by 2 months.

    • I couldn't agree more. What say you AC? Some prorogation are better than others…is it that arbitrary? Shold it be?

  37. Sadly, you're exactly right. There is more here, even for those who support PMSH, that we should be concerned about regarding precedents being set, the precedence of Parliament over the PMO, etc, but they aren't going to be played out in a visible way for the public. Most people are quite happy to disconnect their own existence from what happens in government (at all levels).

  38. Andrew,
    Your last two posts have been inspirational – putting words to my sense of outrage over what Harper has done to parliament and my democratic system. I am what might be called a Red Tory and this last act of his has meant I will never vote Tory under that man again! The traditions of this country have been savaged and left battered and a laughing stock internationally. I urge all our genuine parliamentarians to use a symbolic location for a People's Parliament with the People's Committees – why not the parking lot in Old Montreal where the Old Parliament stood? or the Market Building in Toronto where Parliament was held? or why not Kingston? Let's go back to those places where our institutions were fought for and believed in. Ottawa's buildings are just Potemkin Cardboard to us all now!

  39. Since you seem to be in clarification mode, Andrew …

    "…the coalition, Bloc and all,…"

    The Bloc was not part of the proposed coalition. This historical tidbit seems relevant because if the idea of a coalition comes up again, presumably the same conditions would apply and for the same reasons.

    Last year, the Bloc gave an undertaking that they would support the coalition in the House, but they were not part of it.

  40. Andrew, I don't think you were calling for a Civil War, nor do I want one. But don't pull your punches too much.

    This week's exercise is a (second) attempt to avoid an unfavorable result in Parliament by suspending it. In this case, a vote was already taken to provide public documents for the purpose of oversight, a vote taken by our representatives in a lawful session. Anyone operating within the spirit of a Westminister Constitution – and I mean ANYONE – would have complied immediately. Not to mention the fact that ample precedent exists for Peter Mackay's resignation.

    The comparison by partisan drones to Chretien's actions is an outrageous red herring: Chretien had the support of a majority of Parliament. Harper does not – and he is morally and legally obliged to govern accordingly. For the record, I voted for him in the last election. But so what? I also know how the system is supposed to work. So does the PM. And he knows full well that his mandate is limited, whether he likes it or not.

    Harper insisted in 2008 that the opposition needed to win an election before they could govern. Well, the reverse is also true, The PM and his colleagues need to win a majority before they can govern as though they have one. Ignoring Parliament's majority vote on the documents issue was simply outright subversion, chewed, swallowed and digested.

    To suspend Parliament in a situation like that IS the kind of thing that has provoked wars in the past. I've made the English Civil War comparison several times myself, just to make it absolutely clear how alarming the government's behavior is. And it's a fair comparison: we're at the point where we have a dictatorship of the (parliamentary) minority. That's dangerously wrong, not just 'merely' wrong. So, say so.

  41. I am really starting to worry about Andrew. He seems to be losing his sense of proportion and reality. I had thought his only"blind spot" was Mulroney-Karl Heinz Schreiber (for the life of me I couldn't get his arguments why this was so important) but he seemed bang on with most everything else.

    Prorogation is the ending of a session of Parliament. It is embedded in Parliamentary tradition and practice. It is part and parcel a part of Parliamentary procedure. There will be a new session.

    It is not the end of democracy. It is not the War Measures Act and the suspension of habeus corpus. It is not the "shutting down" of Parliament.

    Indeed, by using prorogation followed by the appointment of Senators by the Government (to reform Senate committees in line with the governing party), it is democracy represented by the elected House of Commons re-asserting itself over the unelected Senate. It is a blow for democracy, not against it.

    In my view had the Liberal senators obeyed Ignatieff and supported legislation passed by the House, then I doubt that prorogation would have been necessary. This prorogation is a direct result of Ignatieff's weakness.

    • I believe you have the blinkers on not Coyne. It's a minority parliament man. Yeesh how much more power do you want for Harper…if we roll up the opposition altogether will that make you happy?

    • Agree. And it amazes me that words such as ''despotic, contempt and arrogance" are used here. This is democracy at its best. A minority governement has made a decision, will re-balance the senate and provide the country with a new agenda. And this being a democracy, the opposition can vote it down on the throne speech…Oops, I forgot about the Leader of the opposition. Sorry to my libs friends here, I can see why you are so upset.

      Though…ROTFLMAO

  42. But is anything stronger? it seems like somewhere there is a procedural method that should be being utlized.

    I guess I would phrase the question as: "What is the remedy when a body refuses to provide documents ordered produced by a parliamentary committee?" or " "What is the remedy when a body refuses to provide documents ordered by a parliamentary committee, asserting privilege over the documents?"

  43. " There shall be a sitting of Parliament and of each legislature at least once every twelve months."

    It'll come to that. Parliament will convene once every twelve months and for very brief periods. Which is totally legal. And that is all that matters. The precedent has been set for Harper and future prime ministers. How will they pass legislation? Easy: they will appoint Senators who promise to obey the dictates of the prime minister.That's what's happening now and nobody seems to mind that the Senate is being filled with people who promise not to work for the best interest of Canadians but instead to vote according to the dictates of the prime minister. The table is set, the meal will be indigest. Maybe one day Coyne will sugest a rebellion!

    Mr. Coyne, you should write about non-confidence votes. I think that by convention the government resigns – but I don't think it has to. Conventions, as we are experiencing, are evolving.

    • Senators do not create the legislation, and therefore cannot pass legislation, which means your diatribe is incorrect.

    • < i > " There shall be a sitting of Parliament and of each legislature at least once every twelve months."

      It'll come to that. < /i >

      Well it might if Harper stays in power, but I don't think it'll come to that. Eventually another normal person with respect for Canada, democratic and accountable government (and the institutions thereof) will become PM and we can forget about this lamentable disgrace of a Prime Minister.

  44. Hogwash! They were as much a part of it as the other two, and you know it. You and the Robert McClelland's of this world have been pushing that tripe ever since it happened. You seem to conveniently forget that revealing photo of Gilles with the other two at the presser. You also know bloody well that the Liberals and NDP explicitly campaigned on the lie that they would never form a coalition and that they would never have even attempted it unless they had the separatists on side. Pathetic.

  45. Barbara ·
    Prudent is the word to use for this action. The Senate could not get around to passing the numerous bills before them sent by Parliament
    ==========================================

    Odd … somehow, something like 31 pieces of legislation sneaked past the Senate and became law during the just-ended reasonably brief session.

    Both you and the Conservatives considerably overstate the "obstructionism" of the Senate. I'm not saying that I agree with all that they've done recently, but let's not go overboard.

  46. Where's the story about all the prorogation that occurred in the last 25 years in parliament and what lead up to the shutting down.
    I guess that would involve someone in media doing some research and some work.
    Bitchin' by the media is so much easier.
    Too many opinions by the news media and not enough background facts to accompany the bitchin'.

  47. Political will of the majority can do practically anything.

    • But we have lots of situations that don't direclty depend on the will of majority to accomplish realistic logical effective results.

      • What I'm getting at is that sometimes, the law or the rules or the whatever are often looked to for solutions when really the answer can be effected by direct, conscious will. In the case of prorogation, the PM has all the rules on his side. The only corrective measure, if you believe one is merited, is if public opinion gathers enough force and common vision that political will is subsequently mustered by the politicians in a place to do something. That could be the opposition or it could bethe PM's own followers.

        Last year, there were grumblings in his own caucus when things started going suddenly awry for the PM. But he managed to convince enough Canadians that the political will being expressed by the coalition opposition was bad and they turned on the opposition. So, in a way, democratic will had its way and the opposition backed down. Democracy is and should be so much more than a vote every 3-5 years.

  48. Mr. Coyne makes a good point: the suspension of parliament should require a parliamentary vote… the abuse by Mr. Harper has gone far far too far. In what sense are we a democracy if Mr. Harper can shut it down anytime he feels like it.

  49. "It shouldn't have to take a vote of non-confidence to get the government to obey basic norms of accountability."

    Non-confidence motions were turned into a game when Harper made all his legislation a confidence 'measure' in 2007 and 2008.

    Votes stopped being about the merits of the legislation and became a political trick to embarrass the Liberals.

    Even non-confidence votes themselves have become meaningless.

    And the media praised this as great political strategy by Harper while using it themselves to beat up on the Liberals.

  50. Keep it up. Maybe that Separtists in Cabinet Idea could be one of the new Liberal policies that comes out of that upcoming Thinkers Stinkers Conference.

  51. “Restoring accountability will be one of the major priorities of our new government. Accountability is what ordinary Canadians, working Canadians, those people who pay their bills, pay their taxes, expect from their political leaders.”

    Stephen Harper

    • * Restoring accountability will be one of the major priorities of our new government* – Stephen Harper
      Well, how is that working out?

      And with that campaign promise, he won a minority.

  52. And maybe you could try forcing the Conservative MPs in Quebec to take a loyalty oath to Canada. Go ahead, try it.

    Hey take it a step further and do it for all Conservtiave members in Quebec (I realize this wouldn't represent a much larger number than the aformentioned MPs but you know just humour me).

    • You probably couldn't get the Albertans to sign on, let alone their MPs from Quebec.

  53. Forget the civil war, astrologically there is no better time for a revolution!!!!

    Time for some electoral reform for a start if we don’t want this revolution to get too bloody because the longer we leave the clean up the messier it will get because there WILL be a revolution.

  54. What crocodile tears we have here with this little leftard log rolling back scratching club.
    Well guess what … you are in a minority in Canada and thank god for small mercies in that regard.
    What caterwalling and eternal handwringing from the junior members of this minority left liberal elitist choir screaming at the top their lungs in a vainglorious attempt to protect their tax payer funded rice bowls.
    Well get use to it …you're out of power for a reason(s) and Stephen Harper, while not being exactly a media spotlight celebrity darling, is an absolute straight shooter of a guy trying to do his honest best for Canada in a sea of shilling, leftard connivers.
    Ordinary Canadians from coast to coast, relate…to him and not to your self serving hypocracy.

    • God, I wish Con Central would give you some talking points because when you bots resort fo fawning over Harper, it's impossible to take you seriously.

  55. Sheesh. The press corps will invent any excuse to criticize Harper. Count on it.

    All this whining and moaning because Harper prorogues parliament for one month — from the end of January to the first days of March. Parliament is quiet over the Olympics, when no one but political junkies [like me] would care about what goes on in Ottawa.

    Prorogation simply means that the Conservatives can 're start' Senatorial committees. The Liberals will no longer be able to stall long-needed legislation.

    Yes, this is done for political advantage. So? That's the way parliament works, folks. Ask Mackenzie King, Trudeau, Chretien.

    Just like in the US, the media lefties think nothing of giving lefty politicians a pass for any kind of corruption or trick, but jump on conservatives for any imagined slight.

  56. Mr . Harper seems to be saying that the government is incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

  57. Once again Coyne you go way too far.

    If the opposition believe that they are on the side of the angels and Canadians feel their democracy is threatened then the opposition should feel free to place a vote of non confidence on the table, go to an election and let the people of the country.

    After all it is their country not just that of the sleazy gotcha media and the never ending cacophony of critics who could never find anything positive to say about a Conservative government who is up against three left wing opposition parties.

    However, we all know that the Libs would be trounced badly and Iffy would be back at Harvard and the Libs would be on to looking for a new saviour.

    So then what happens to your precious Afghan detainee "scandal". It is dead in the water.

    Go ahead continue to goad the opposition parties to go to the people and then see what happens.

    The issue of the opposition demanding documents and the government's ability to give or withhold them is specious
    So keep yakking. Nobody is listening other than we partisans.

  58. hollin continued….

    The documents before being released are reviewed by independent lawyers who must follow the law in respect to privacy and national security. Just because the opposition demands something doesn't necessarily mean they get it if it is unlawful.

  59. Apparently Canada can't have a functioning government AND host the Olympics at the same time.

  60. Andrew, a couple of questions on my mind today: 1) Traditionally, does the PM need to provide a reasonable justification to the GG to get his or her approval for prorogation 2) Should the public (yourself included) shift the focus and call on the GG to deny the PM's request to prorogue.

  61. The so-called "detainee issue" is more a story about two huge bureaucracies that never get along and less about the latest peacekeeper the government rotates in to "run" things. Frankly, a little cold water tossed on this over-heated game of inside baseball is probably a good thing right now.

  62. Now, now lefties. The LPC got away with things like this for eons. I didn't hear a peep from you. I'm sure that, just as in every Liberal leader's mind at the time of making a decision such as this, Mr Harper has a plan and you'll just have to live with it. When I think back on things like the money scam in Quebec, Shawinigate, the gun registry, foreign strippers pounding the pavement for Liberal MPs, imaginary talks with homeless people, promises to dump the GST, proroguing parliament doesn't seem so bad.

  63. Please sign this petition and send it to your friends. The Canadian government has decided to turn a blind eye to allegations of war crimes.

    If they do not want the truth, we must go to those whose mission is to find the truth in these things.

    http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/internationalw

    • check out my link below,

      detainees are treated better than any other war detainee in a time of war.

      I guess if you cry "war crime" enough, you'll start to believe it.

    • Sanity at SDA…good grief…is this the same Kate Steyn keeps quoting…i'll buy some of that.

  64. Prudent is the word to use for this action. The Senate could not get around to passing the numerous bills before them sent by Parliament, but managed to quietly and quickly put through a bill to allow them unlimited travel allowances, as if they don't have enough 'perks'. The Liberal domination has to be broken….and finally Harper has succeeded in bringing about the Senate reforms he has advocated for years. If all Liberals are so incensed, vote no confidence in March…have an election. The scandal a day tactics of the pass four years is tiresome. Offer an alternative or give Conservatives a majority and all this nonsense quits. And news media….quit trying to 'make' the news, report it as it is made by those who have to live in the fish bowl of pyranhas.

    • …. finally Harper has succeeded in bringing about the Senate reforms he has advocated for years.

      So Harper advocated stacking the Senate with appointed “yes Harper” people? That was his reform that you speak of? Or do you anticipate him to change the Constitution and making Canada’s senate an elected Senate?

  65. A few thoughts:

    1) I'm really not sure how obvious it is that the government is trying to avoid tough questions here. It's going to come up soon enough and if I were in government and trying to have a controversy blow over I would be thanking the heavens for the good fortune of weathering this assault while the vast majority of Canadians are focused on the biggest two week sporting event in our nation's history. Delaying it until just afterward doesn't make a whole lot of strategic sense, if that's the goal.

    2) Taking control of Senate committees doesn't suffice? Coyne brushes it off by saying "that is no reason to shutter Parliament". Dramatic verbs aside… it isn't? Parliament doesn't sit for a few weeks, a pretty desultory crop of legislation has to be re-started (whether you support it or not, none of it can be considered major legislation), the opposition is still free to pursue whatever outrages it wants when we come back. I would think prorogation would be an automatic response to this, although reconvening on Jan. 20 as scheduled would have been my preference.

    3) Is it just me, or is the frequency with which "That's just the way our Westminster system works" is used to defend all sorts of questionable stuff (and this is pretty minor on the list of things the PM can get away with. He could have prorogued for a year) maybe an indication that it's actually a pretty crappy system? The last 5 years have been the beginning of what looks like it will be a period of unprecedented competitiveness in Canadian politics, and as such it's more cutthroat than ever, and conventions just are not going to be adhered to if there is some trick in the rules that can be exploited.

  66. The Libs' pro'gd: No problem
    CPC: "threat to democracy"

    Brison and Stronach defect: No problem
    Emerson: "threat to representative democracy"

    Libs level baseless attack ads suggesting Harper will "take away our rights": All's fair in love and politics
    CPC highlights the truth filled fact that Iggy spend much time outside Canada: a new low in political discouse, a disgrace

    There's nothing new under the Sun,

    particularly not a brazenly partisan left leaning media

    • Nothing to see here right? The cons are the real angels right? The day i hear some balanced criticism from you, is the day i'll listen.

      • biff didn't say that, he never said they are angels.He was making the distinction, when the left does something it's okay.The right, not so right. Thats all, his opinion differs from yours, I think he's right and you are wrong, and that's my opinion.

        • He did make that point, fair enough. But my point is partisans like him and you never stop to question your team so to speak[ since its all a game to many anyway] All i ever hear from you two is how evil and twisted the left is…that's not even polemics, it's just ideaology.

          • I dont want a BFF for a leader.Harper suits me, is he a saint? no of course not.Does he have snarky temper and a stubborn streak, yes, but he's also a damn good PM! I just find the left of late, so bloody whiny.

  67. Ultimately, any governing PM decides when and why to make use of parlementary rights. Harper does so on his own terms as have other Prime Ministers done on their terms.

    Coyne and other pundits can only offer an opinion on such actions having been taken. Opinions are valid but should never be confused with the want for taking a judge's role. Only the people at large have the rights to such ultimate judgemental role and it's called participaction……..

    • Of course you are right. However, I don't recall seeing the hyperventilation in the media when other PM's took the very same action because it suited their purposes.

      It seems that the media and the opposition have a real problem with a Conservative PM using the tools available to him. Somehow he is a dictator, undemocratic, in contempt of Parliament.

      If this is all the media have to expound upon then the country is in pretty good shape.

      • How quickly accountability morphs into expediency and privilege.

      • It isn't new, the media is left leaning.The pole that own the media . papers TV, are left! they think everything left is right. How soon the mighty tumble, layton leads ignatieff in the polls.So they can blab on all they like, we will choose the next leader, and it seems the more the media pounce on harer, the more militant the public become.

        • The people who own the media are are left!! BS…you have no idea what your're talking about. While lefties have owned bits and pieces of the media the overwhelming preponderance has always been conservative or more properly people who's only allegiance and loyalty is power and self interest.

          Your delusional bud…since when did the "public" just become another word for conbot? 60% of the people who can be bothered to vote didn't choose Harper.

  68. Really? Independent lawyers are doing the redacting? Do you have a source for that?

  69. 35th Parliament – Liberal (Chretien) – 2 Sessions, 36th Parliament – Liberal (Chretien) – 2 Sessions; 37th Parliament – Liberal (Chretien/Martin) – 3 Sessions; 38th Parliament – Liberal (Martin) – 1 Session; 39th Parliament – Conservative (Harper) – 2 Sessions; 40th Parliament – Conservative (Harper – 3 Sessions (to date)
    Two, three Sessions – so what's the big deal?
    By the way, if you really want to see some proroguing go back a few decades to PM St. Laurent who set the record of 7 sessions in the 21st Parliament and followed up with another 5 in the 22nd. Yep folks, that's 12 in a space of less than 8 years.
    Historically the norm was for Parliament to prorogue on an annual basis. They got their work done in a single session and moved on.
    The new norm for minority Parliaments is for opposition parties to mess around the government, stall and obfuscate. Mr. Harper, being the Conservative he is, is only returning Parliament back to the Old Norm roots, and in the process maybe he will take a shot at Louis St. Laurent's record.
    One can only hope!
    stephen p

  70. I'm sure the howls of outrage form our progressive class and the LPC will mean that when the budget comes down in March it will not be supported and we will have an election.

    The Liberals will vote against the next budget in protest over this democratic tragedy won't they?

    Ya right. And Obama isn't a socialist.

  71. I hear that Harper will bring back that lil' poison pill … the $1.95 per vote subsidy … and abolish it in the March Budget. The Libs & Dips will object, but the BQ might just support the Budget to cripple the Libs & Dips who pose more of a threat to them than the Cons … besides, the BQ election expenses are minute only campaigning in Quebec.

    • Chretien bought that poison pill in, why am I subsiding the very party that wants to break up Canada.I say take it away!

  72. I am sincerely distressed by Harper's contempt for Parliament and his faith in Canadian apathy to get him to the next election at which time he will no doubt blame the Liberals for this latest prorogation of the House.

    • There is no contempt of Parliament. Harper is using the tools of his office as he sees fit. Lets quit with the hyperbole. It is perfectly legal and an accepted practice that has been used by PM's since the country was founded.

      Trouble is people like you and the media hate it when this Conservative prime minister holds the cards, uses them to his advantage and outmanoevres the opposition. You are going to have to get use to it because Harper knows how to play the game well. He has learned well from the Libs and will continue use the tools available to him whether the opposition and the media like it or not.

      Do you really believe proroguing the House for an extra five days is such a big deal given the break that would take place for two weeks of the Olympics? If you do then you really don't have enough to worry and to occupy your time.

      • Now it's only 5 days…the story keeps on changing. I heard 3 months…big dif.

  73. Agree with Mr. Coyne on this.

  74. In fairness, and hopefully not being unkind…what does the GG know about constitutional law? I think what she does spells out very clearly how redundant her position really is. Cut Liz' apron string and give the GG the rest of her term in lieu of going quietly, then get on with restoring some respect that this mature country deserves. As for prorogation…worry about something that really matters…if worry you must!

  75. the gg looks good against a light pale white background and was an acceptable media type and being an immigrant has definitely considered a success story but doubtfully with what she knows she is a scripted person….a definite unneccesity as time goes on as this generation and others will decide the future of useless tradition compared to a more evolved republic…

    • I do agree Martin could have picked a GG with more gravitas than an ex CBC journalist who knew little of the country outside of Quebec but Jean has proven herself to be a capable representative of the crown for Canada.

      I assume you are unhappy that she "allowed" Harper to prorogue twice in the last year. The fact is tradition says that the GG accepts the advice of her PM. Why should that change? Because Harper is a Conservative PM?

      First of all people assume that Jean had only two choices last Jan.; allow the government to prorogue or allow the coalition to form a government. I would subscribe she had a third option; call an election. The latter was always on the table given the reaction of Canadians to the coalition. It did not matter whether there had only been an election 6 weeks before. It is the people who decide what government they want.; not the GG nor voracious opposition parties who think they can gang up on the government who by the way was 12 seats short of a majority and inflict their will on the Canadian people.

  76. Harper obviously has a pact with "Dictator" Campbell of B.C. to avoid having any "politics" in the news during the OLympics. Since Campbell"s popularity is at its lowest ever because of the HST, this time. Harper put the HST Bill through parliament to try to take the pressure off of Campbell and McGinty—-deceiving the voters in believing that if the FEDS are in favour, then provincially the voters should behave and accept the HST. Nothing is more embarrassing to a gov't than an uproar of opposition during an international event. Harper is obviously very envious of Campbell's majority and the arrogant dictatorial manner with which Campbell rules—nothing but deceit and lies just to get votes. This time Campbell got a majority with only 24% support because only 49% of registered voters bothered voting. So much for Democracy. Poor Harper just can't get the majority he so craves.

    • While I agree that I would not be happy paying more taxes the fact remains that all of us provincially and federally are going to have to pay higher taxes in order to get out of the hole created by the latest recession.

      Harper has really nothing to do with it. It is a provincial decision and if he had not helped with the transition costs the impact would have been greater. We will see if the impact on consumers is as great as everybody believes it will be.

      In the meantime calling your premier names does not accomplish much. He is working for the benefit of the province and while not perfect like Harper he is doing his best.

  77. I know I know …. When The Liberals…. If It wasn,t for the Liberals ….. I know …. we are goin on a payed Vacation ,along with my MP,s & come Easter? April Fools ,Canadains & the Tax payers will have forgotten& forgive us and Vote as back in, all of the programs that have been cut from the East To: the West,will be swept under the rug. Harper thinks Canadains are Idiots.

  78. Once again Coyne has displayed his astounding ability to miss the obvious. This is not an “insult to Parliament”, it is correcting one. As well, the timing of this had little to do with the detainee issue which the opposition can pick up in Mar and more to do with announcing it at a time of year where it would get the least attention by the media and the public, a standard media tactic used by all parties.

    What Coyne fails to comprehend is that this is all about the Senate. It is precisely because of pending legislation and the government's inability to get it passed by a dysfunctional Senate that the PM has requested prorogation. The unelected, Liberal dominated Senate is out of control. They took a bill passed unanimously by all parties in the HoC and killed it. Clearly Iffy has lost control of his Senators and indeed his entire party. This situation has compelled the PM to act and his only recourse is to gain control of the Senate by appointing five new Senators and asking the GG to prorogue. The govt can then pass legislation that expresses the will of Parliament and then institute Senate reforms.

  79. Once again Coyne and his media colleagues sensationalize and the opposition overplays their hand only to look silly and in the end further erode the public's trust in them.

    Three other small points of fact:

    1.The GG is proroguing Parliament at the PM's request, not the PM. She can always say no.

    2.Just because Parliament is not sitting does not mean that an MP is not “working”. If it did then I guess the members should also not get paid for the 267 days that the House did not “sit” last year?

    3.The GG is not stopping the House from sitting for 2 months, more like two weeks. The House was due to sit on 25 Jan then, by agreement of all parties adjourn for the Olympics on the 5th of Feb and reconvene on the 1st of Mar. So the PM has prorogued for a total of an additional 10 working days. Hardly the end of the world or a great threat to democracy.

    • Prorogation is about the Senate not detaines or other minor details. The Liberals are playing games with the Senate and will continue to do so until Harper appoints more Conservatives. At some point, hopefully soon, Senators will be elected and western provinces will be provided with democratic representation. Then games will not be necessary. Suggest that Andrew Coyne and his colleagues at the Toronto Star remove their rose coloured glasses.

      • "Prorogation is about the Senate not detaines or other minor details."

        To reset the Senate committees requires only a single day of "proroguement", not 5 weeks. So it obviously has to do with more than resetting those committees because it is for much longer than is needed to do so.

    • Hey hey hey, stop making sense!

  80. Been a Canadain Citazen ,and coming from from the First Nations Community ,I cannot help but to put my two cents in all of this Fiasco. I Beleive The Canadain Gov: in some Provinces has failed the Aboriginal People, The Gov: has been introducing self Governance in our Community,s,actually been presented by Indian act Cheifs and their Associates,to our Elders & People on the Reserves to accept Self Governance and most of our People are not Interested,for the reason their is to much Corruption in the Band Councils by the Cheifs & Councillors,along with Nepotism, salaries paid higher than the PM himself to the Cheifs & Councillors. This Issue is very Important to be corrected,before our Elders and young People will Accept the Free Gifts sandwiches & Trinkets from the Puppets giving out these Presentations to our people. We know that our Leaders are taking all avenues to accept this self Governance,becuase they are the ones that will Benefit and forget the poor Living in Poverty once again,If the Government wants to help us & why not Clean the Corruption, we are left in Blind eyes,no one is Interested in helping the People that suffer. This world is full of Capitalism,and the Puppets are put forward to make decisions for us All,We have been asking for some help on these Issues and each time we are been Gaffed,our Leaders have taking the wrong Path,they will ( Sign any Agreements ). as long as their is $$$$ on their Plate,even if it means the Peoples Treaty Rights are Killed. To much has been going on without the Cheifs ,Standing up to fight & Unite the Poor,they are all in it for themselves……………Happy Holidaze'ZZZZ. & good health & Goodwill .PEACE~~~~~~~.

  81. Andrew, i have said it again and again that the media you included have the responsibility and the duty to keep your noses out of politics if you can't be bothered to represent every party equally. The media has given Sh a free ride through all their lies and broken promises and that in itself is what the general public base their opinions on. For shame is all I can say. Quit trying to be politicians and do what you trained to do. Report all the news fairly and accurately instead of playing partisan hacks to control the very people who have given up on placing their votes because of the unfair coverage of other parties. You are suppose to be Canada's watchdogs for them, not against them. You the media have to take a lot of responsibility for the Dictator we know have as leader of our great country. It is no wonder the media is going broke. We just quit buying the stuff because of stupid unqualified writers who merely report their opinions and nothing more.

    • Obviously you aren't in touch with what is happening Canada.If you think the media have been cheerleaders for the Harper government then you must be living in a cave. Is there ever a positive article you can recite about the government? Everday the public is bombarded with negative news items mostly focused on that evil Mr. Harper. Come on get real. You party is not being covered because your leader is weak and the party has no policies to present to the Canadian people. Coyne can be criticized for many things but certainly not for being a cheerleader for SH.
      Once again you refer to Harper as a dictator. Obviously you don't know what a dictator is. Go to North Korea or Iran if you need a lesson in dictatorship. Harper is using the tools of his office and because you don't like it there is no reason to get in the gutter and call despicable names. Show me how he is a dictator. What human rights has he trampled, show me what laws he has broken and then we can talk. However, because you don't like him you need to find some other way of complaining rather than using such hyperbolic rhetoric. It is unbecoming.

  82. And some wonder why the turn out for voting is going down.
    Personnally I am joining them after never missing voting for 45 years.
    I will no longer take part this farce.
    The sooner we dilute the power of the federal govt in favor of provincial control the better.
    Maybe its time to parcel out the country.

  83. I don't always agree with Mr. Coyne's commentary and opinion regarding the Canadian Political environment and issues concerning our Parliamentary democracy. But this time "I agree". I am not a political scientist and neither am I an active member of any Canadian political party. I am a natural-born Canadian citizen. However this action by the Prime Minister incurs in myself a disturbing feeling that if the country continues to abdicate and "prorogue" this most precious of democratic obligations and responsibility, this country is headed for trouble. I can only pray that this malaise is a temporary and abberrational state. Yes, the Prime Minister has too much power. Far more than even the American President. At this point, it appears that "Statesmen" are sorely lacking in all of the world's democracies. And we know what this vacuum has led to.

  84. "I am convinced it is because the baby boomers, and their children, are taking over from the generation before boomers and they don't know how to behave. Since a lot of our constitution is unwritten, and people's attitude is if it's not illegal than it is ok, pols have been abusing the system for at least 15 years. "

    The problem in Canada is that people like the idea of a Democracy but they do not like to actually live in one. Read: As long as someone tells them you can go and vote and all is fine, people are content. They fail to understand that Democracy does not only happen at the Ballot Box but also inbetween.

    I blame a lack of civics education in highschool on this. It's sort of sad that I, as someone who came to Canada ten years ago, knows more about the Canadian Political System and how it works (or doesn't) than the majority of people who grew up here.

    "Harper is bad, no question, but at least he has not ignored a confidence motion or shut down inquiries because he did not like the direction they were taking. I wish Libs were more concerned about process when they were in power and decided they could do anything they like to stay in government."

    Come again? He called an election to avoid a non-confidence motion. He then got another majority and was faced with the threat of a coalition in the HoC which would have dethroned him as the PM and he decided to run and hide for a few months while his spinmeisters went to work.

    This time around he seems to do the same thing, quiet everything down, then most likely call an election again hoping that the Canadian Voters are asleep at the wheel and don't realize what he's done.

    Harper is a great tactician, too bad he's not a leader or a politician.

    Chretien and Martin may have been "bastards" but at least they were so openly and defied their opponents (albeit at times with dirty tricks). Harper is just hiding whenever someone challenges him. He is more of a Bully than anything else.

  85. Andrew Coyne is an insult to my intelligence. Proroguing Parliament is nothing new. If my memory serbes me correctly, Trudeau did it 3 times and Chretien 4 times.

    If Coyne is correct, then what many Liberals consider two of Canada's greatest PM's are just as disrespectful of Parliament.

    This simply another weak-minded ploy by pro-Liberals to try and damage the Conservative's reputation.

  86. Was Harper's hairdresser/makeup artist progrogued too! He actually has a few hairs flying in the wind.

  87. I thought if you didn't want to show up for work, ya didn't get paid!!

  88. Canada is neither eternal nor indestructible. Time to for this country to move in different directions.

  89. Yes, Harper is trying to cover up mistakes and help himself out. Yes, this is immoral. Yes, the Liberals are having a field day.

    But yes, this is also perfectly legal on Harper's behalf :)
    Chretien did it, Trudeau did it… the Liberals have been covering up scandal for decades.

    If you want the Liberals to act immorally, vote for them next time.

  90. Coyne is one of few in the media doing his job. It's the media's job to diseminate information. This kind of brutal government disrepsect and abuse of power would go unnoticed and entirely misunderstood by the bulk of the population if it isn't explained. Harper is gambling on just that happening–nobody noticing or understanding it. Then he'll again proceed to manipulate the electorate with a perverse spin on his motivation that will likely be successful because the average person couldn't be bothered to try and understand the inner workings (and abuses) of Parliment. It's the meida's job to point out we're boiling frogs here and our democracy is being urinatd all over without us seeming to notice or care.

  91. The Canadian public do not care about the alleged mistreatment of Taliban handed over to the Afghan army years ago. The Opposition and the left wing media in this country are beating this story to death. Why?

  92. Could it be that the Opposition is beating it to death because the government is hiding it to death?

  93. Parliament has been prorogued 105 times in its history.

    Liberals – 78

    Conservatives – 27

    You Liberal complainers really need to start actually reading and researching the topics you choose

  94. Part I
    I disagree with you Mr. Coyne. The Parliamentary system is working very well as it was meant to function. There are a lot of ignorant whiners on the internet who do not even understand what parliament is. Parliament is the: House of Commons, Senate and Sovereign. That is Parliament, so for those who keep saying that the coalition last year was the will of parliament, you guys need a lesson in political science immediately. Last year, the Executive – party with plurality of seats but not majority of seats, the Prime Minister and the Sovereign/Governor General was a more powerful coalition of Parliament than the Majority of Commons. And thus, Parliament got its way. Parliament is not the House of Commons.

  95. Part II
    Whether the Governor General made a bad or good call is up for debate but she seems content with her decision. You can agree with her or disagree with her but she as part of Parliament exercised her prerogative the way she saw fit. In this latest prorogation, the Governor General once again agreed with the judgment of the Prime Minister the reasons are hers alone. The system worked. The Left should be happy with the performance of the Governor General, after all, the Liberals chose her to be Governor General. The Governor General got her way and that is the will of parliament. There is no abuse of power. The Governor General had her reasons and Canadians should trust the judgment of the representative of the sovereign. After all, it is the job of the Governor General to look out for the best of Canada. Relax everyone, parliamentary democracy is working the way it was designed to work.

  96. Part III
    No rules were broken. That means the system worked. If you think it should function differently, then Canadians will have to reform the system. If this is a question of ethics, then you should know that every government has its share of crimes. There's nothing special here in this situation. The power of parliament has not been debased. If this breeds cynicism, another politician will come along promising hope and change and accountability and whatever it is the people want and they will believe him/her. The people never tire of waiting for the exceptional messiah but the truth is parliament is just another version of a struggle for power. One way or the other, no government will be perfect. At some point, it will disappoint. It's all normal. Rest easy, relax, the system is working.

  97. Top 10 Stephen Harper Vacation Auto-replies

    1. "I am out of the office until March 3. If this is about a breach of democracy, please call my press secretary Dimitris, x666."
    2. "Sorry, I'm out of Ottawa while they renovate my House of Commons. Have to tear a few things down, but I bet you won't recognize the place when I'm back!"
    3. "I'm still detained in Afghanistan – talk about torture! I'll get that information you requested as soon as I can."
    4. "I'll be trading Parliament Hill's eternal flame for Vancouver's Olympic torch. Watch the flames of our nation burn with me until March 3."
    5. "Ottawa will be closed for business while I find enough senators to allow it to function properly."
    6. "If your legislation failed to pass before the end of 2009, please take a number or call again in the springtime."
    7. "While we are away from the office, there is no refund of your tax dollars, but stay tuned for phase two of our economic action plan. Remember, your money is supporting our tropes."
    8. "Sorry you noticed I'm away! Due to Jean Chretien's bad example, we are prorogued. We are working as fast as possible to make sure you don't notice anything again."
    9. "Any top civil servants needing re-appointments during this time can contact my finger."
    10. "I will be in very remote contact with most Canadians at this time."

    Inspired by playful partisan contest on the Liberal web site. See original post at http://freedomisacupcake.blogspot.com/2010/01/top

  98. Today prorogation. Tomorrow dictatorship?

    Prorogation twice in 12 months is an outrage and an affront to democracy!

    @donpower

  99. Coyne Writes: "to avert the far more destabilizing consequences if the coalition, Bloc and all, had been allowed to seize power."

    To clarify, the Bloc were not going to be part of the governing coalition. I'm not sure why this myth is continually passed on. To be part of the Government you need to have cabinet positions. It's called the executive. The Bloc, for obvious reasons (ie. they are opposed to the existence of Quebec remaining within Canada, remember?) were not to be part of Government. The agreement between the three parties simply stated that the Bloc would support the governing coalition on all confidence motions for a stated period of time (a few months, I seem to recall). That's quite different, very different actually, than being part of the Government. Let's get our history straight, okay?

  100. Very well said Andrew. The thing is, It's a whole different story when it comes to Afghans detainee issue.

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