A seven-day limit


Jack Layton will table the following motion tomorrow.

“That, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister shall not advise the Governor General to prorogue any session of any Parliament for longer than seven calendar days without a specific resolution of this House of Commons to support such a prorogation.”


A seven-day limit

  1. This is a non-binding motion. If Jack were serious, and if possible, why doesn't he put in language that changes the Standing Orders?

    • Standing Orders are amended by unanimous consent, if just one MP stand up and says no,
      the motion does not pass.

  2. Good on Jack. However, it's not at all clear – at least to me – that the House can control the advice a PM provides to the GG. I'm guessing that the "…shall not advise" mechanism was legally and procedurally the only/best construct available.

    Now, the Libs and the other opposition parties had better darn well make this stick or look even more foolish and inept.

  3. 'atta boy, Jack. Ride those fence-posts of legislative mediocrity.

  4. Hmmm, how about a motion

    that only the winner of a minority government 'shall' form a coalition government with a party of their choice.

    that no coalition government is legitimate when parties campaign expressly against forming a coalition government (deceiving the public).

    • How about you try sticking to the topic for once in your life rather than constantly deflecting.

      • They'd have to declare Alberta a dry province for that to happen.

    • How about a motion to keep close minded comments out of the comments thread so intelligent people can have intelligent debate?

      Take a look at almost any other parliamentary system around the world, from Israel to New Zealand. Coalition governments are the norm when no 1 party gets a majority of the seats and this is completely possible and legal within our constitution. If you dare take a look at politics outside of Canada you'll find during these elections these parties don't campaign for coalition they campaign for there party values.

      • Chris, in other countries parties do campaign on which coalition they would enter into or not, but I have not seen that coming from the NDP or LPC. They do not tell the voter during an election that they would form a coalition. In fact, it was Mr.Harper who had said during the last election that the two parties might form a coalition………

        Of course, parties have the right now to ask the GG to form a particular coalition, such request exists now.

  5. It's easy to see that Jack never has governed, nor does he have any expectation of doing so, or he would appreciate the meaning of the word "flexibility".

    Perhaps he should add a paragraph that bans people like himself and his wife from ripping off the public by occupying low-income housing units in Toronto, and even paying less than he should have… until he got caught!

    No, wait, he's from that leech party, the NDP. Cancel my suggestion. Obvious double-standard exemption applies.

    • Actually assuming it could be given power of law, that seven day bit makes it very flexible indeed. I like it and would like to see it made a common practice among our parliamentarians.

    • Do you mean when he & Olivia were living in a mixed-income co-op? The kind that have both subsidized and full market rate apartments, the latter of which help fund the affordable units and keep the places from becoming low-income ghettos?

  6. The only reason Jack is proposing anythng of the sort is that he knows that he hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of ever having the power to prorogue. Regardless of what you think of Harper or Chretien, thinking that Jack would do any different if given the chance is naive.

    • Nice juxtaposition in your link

      Blog item 1. A phony comparison of a brief absence by one leader with an arbitrary 6 week shutdown of the entire place by the other.

      Blog Item 2. Concern over taking too many shots to the head.

      A coincidence? I think not!

      • Really. So, after arguing for months about how work wasn't being done in Parliament, Iggy comes back to Parliament, only to leave Parliament.

        Amazing what some of you zombies will keep supporting because you hate Harper so much. Literally.

        Nevertheless, as a continuing Harper supporter, I can rest at ease that all he faces is opposition like this. Thanks, guys.

        • Gosh, is it possible he made commitments back when he expected to have spring break? Remember, before Harper ran to the GG crying like a spoiled little brat that he needed to prorogue before he could be forced to obey the will of Parliament?

          • He had MONTHS to change those plans.

    • Ignatieff hasn't prorogued. Committees are functioning and it's not unusual for opposition leaders to travel, etc.

      And, if need be, he could be back at a moments notice.

      Silly, silly nonsense.

  7. Jack Layton's proposal is naive. Does he really think that Prime Ministerial powers are transferred that easily?

    According to his wishful thinking, soon he will come with a proposal to let all political party leaders have a turn being the PM (March and April for the CPC, May and September for the LPC etc.) Mind you, I shouldn't give him any new ideas, he might just follow along.

    • soon he will come with a proposal to let all political party leaders have a turn being the PM

      I'm interested to read what other thoughts you think might pop into Layton's head, on the basis of the motion above; hopefully you can set aside your concerns that the ideas might get back to Layton.;-)

      • It's obvious to me that Prime Ministerial rights exist within a frame work. I am of the opinion that our Canadian political system needs to be looked at from the top down. In other words, let us have a look at the powers of the GG etc, which would mean looking at our outdated attachement to the Royal House of England. As far as I'm concerned, that is where we should start.

        Trudeau may have been proud of bringing the Canadian Constitution "home" but what does "home" mean in that sense? Canada is still not an independent country and a lot of the power struggles between the executive and the legislative stem from that.

        • So if Mr.Layton believes it will be that easy to switch Ministerial powers over to the House, I think he is misleading the voter at large. There is a check and balance system build in the way things are set up now.

          If a group of Canadians is of the opinion that PM Harper abused his Ministerial power, by going with prorogation, tthen such opinion has been publically stated. Not educational enough in my opinion but it has been noted.

          Don't forget, however, that the PM has a right to his opinion too, and his opinions are ultimately turned to the voters for approval during election times. Jack would like to see this minority as nothing but a illegal government, but it isn't.

  8. Is there something legislatively significant about "in the opinion of the House"…? That strikes me as rendering the text that follows it instantly meaningless. Or at least toothless. No?

    • you are correct myl. this thing is as toothless as the average newborn. it would have had to specified that advising the GG in the manner specified would amount to being in contempt of parliament at a minimum (although SH clearly cares little about that) as Andrew Heard has suggested elsewhere.

  9. Yes, how silly willy it is to expect a political leader to live up to his own rhetoric – even if he's just opposition leader.

    I mean, if he can't do it now, he'll have plenty of chances to get it right as prime minister of us peons, right?

  10. I believe the word you are looking for is "prorogation"

    • Ah yes, thanks.

      There once was a PM named Steve,
      who needed Parliament'ry reprieve.
      To much consternation,
      he used prorogation,
      but what did this really achieve?

      Happy St. Patrick's Day.

  11. Is this to distract from possible NDP retreat over Parliamentary Supremacy? Will they present their long-promised contempt motion Friday? If they don’t, will Lee – we have terms of reference now and they in no way satisfy Lee’s, Iggy’s or LPC’s stated demands, nor NDP’s, for that matter. Will media hold their feet to the fire? This is rather important, actually. I mean, really. Fundamental. No words. It’s all been said. Democracy or not? Politics worthwhile or not? If Opp doesn’t act, Wherry would be better off going back to serious work like covering Tranna rock bands – at least they believe in their work and their lyrics. Hébert had a very good post before Christmas, last before her break I think, in which she wondered whether commentating on nonsense and treating it seriously didn’t work against democracy and demean herself and journalism. I mean, if Opp doesn’t follow through, what is the point of Wherry et.al.? If it’s all a joke, and we write seriously about it, we are legitimising it. Better off to actively boycott and ignore it. There are 13 prov-terr govts, and innumerable municipal-regional: maybe report on them instead? Somewhere, someone’s gotta take democracy and politics seriously, right? Right?

  12. We were told Parliamentary sitting days were sacrosanct.

    After a week he skips out.

    Of course, the biggest factor showing how rediculous this faux issue is, is the fact that Parliament has been prorogued

    104 previous times.

    Not a rare single other time, or on a handful of special occaisions.


    104 times.

    But its the 105th that's the end of our political world as we know it.

    Too funny.

  13. I'd actually opt for the opposite solution: mandatory proroguement (?) (proroguishness?) (prorogueitude?)

    We'd be better off if Parliament were in session less often. Do we really need bills being passed most of the year?
    The problem is the PM being able to prorogue at will to avoid non-confidence motions.

    Prorogue Parliament for 9 months of every year on fixed dates. Parliament resumes to pass a budget, hold Opposition Days, and deal with anything especially pressing (which should be nothing, unless we're going to war) and can be reconvened in emergencies. MPs have to hold real jobs for the rest of the year, with time off guaranteed during Parliamentary sessions.

    I see the following benefits:
    (1) Less government.
    (a) Less of MPs wasting time and money looking for pointless political exercises with which to hammer their opponents, and
    (b) less of MPs making up initiatives that have no purpose beyond making said MPs look they're doing something, and
    (c) less pointless lawmaking, intrusions in the lives of private citizens, committees, etc.
    (2) Reduced cost – we would only pay them for the time in session.
    (3) Citizens might pay more attention when Parliament is in session, since it would happen less often.
    (4) Politicians, having to hold real jobs, would be better and more responsible people.

    • Clever. I'd agree only with #5 being a meaningful benefit, however.

      Like it or not, our Parliamentary system is the only mechanism for continually holding our elected governments to account. Fixed election dates – no more than every 4 years – might also help but the Dear Leader has successfully destroyed that approach.

      In our system, a majority government is as close to a dictatorship as I ever want to go. I want the loyal opposition pounding on the government to (as best they can) keep them honest and focused on what's best for the country.

      The dilemma – made clear as day these past 4 years – is that short-term tactical games have taken over both the Commons and – with the last year's appointments – the Senate. I'd submit that's the critical problem and that however clever, mechanisms to limit Parliamentary activity don't address it.

      • "Fixed election dates – no more than every 4 years – might also help but the Dear Leader has successfully destroyed that approach. "

        I beg to differ. When, within a minority government setting, the opposition parties hold onto the power of when to call an election (by defeating the government at the opposition's most convenient terms) then the talbes of old have been turned. So fized election dates within a minority setting work strongly in favour of the opposition parties, whereas no fixed election date would work strongly in favour of a majority government. The middle ground (institutionalizing a fixed election date neutral to all sides in the House) has not been found as of yet.

        • Huh?

          Best as I can tell, you seem to be agreeing w/ me – i.e., "really" fixed election dates might better hold governments to account but we do not have a scheme that works.

          • I should have been more clear perhaps, but your notion that "but the Dear Leader has successfully destroyed that approach." is the sentence I disagree with.

            You really think Harper should have let the opposition parties play with the loophole existing within the socalled fixed election date sometime in October?? In my opinion, he was in his right not to stand for that kind of reversals of roles. Not that I completely agree with how Harper went about it, and I wrote him about that. I think he should have let the opposition come to the same conclusion afterall, namely that it would NOT be reasonable for the opposition parties to take a lopsided hold on when elections should or could be called. But within the proposed fixed election amendment, no such protection was put in place, hence fixed election date on the books, could not be taken seriously.
            My mistake if I see your pov as different from mine. It seems that way to me.

          • Harper is a giant hypocrite. If he didn't want to have the law applied to him and his government, he shouldn't have passed it earlier in the SAME SESSION OF PARLIAMENT!

          • It may have been passed in the same session of Parliament, but the fact remains that all sides had to support the intent of the amendment, and it should not have been just the minority government to hold the intent in place. The opposition parties were playing fast and loose with the very same amendment to the election date. Just because they, in the end, didn't set the election in motion, does not withdraw frim the fact that they played a crucial part in the decision making.

    • If we're going that far, why not eliminate Parliament altogether? Think of all the money that would save! And there would be no more of those pesky, impertinent questions from members of opposing parties that waste valuable time that could be spent recalibrating or strategizing or plotting or whatever it is the Prime Minister and his PMO actually spend their days doing. All hail President For Life Harper!

      More seriously: your points seem to be saying that Parliament is messy and expensive: all those clamoring voices, taking up all that time and money. Democracy is inefficient, it's true – it takes time to try to reach some kind of consensus or to reflect the diversity of political opinions in this large and sprawling country. But if we want to have any kind of hope of having a government that rules with the consent of the governed, the wasteful and time-consuming Parliamentary process seems to be the only alternative available.

      • You know, it is possible to have Parliamentary democracy and yet reduce the number of days on which MP's sit. Let's leave the false choices to Question Period, shall we?

  14. Biff, Clearly there has been a problem with the last two instances of prorogation by Harper. When a prime minister uses the motion to stifle debate and close Parliament before the business of the session has been completed, it costs taxpayers and is a threat to a parliamentary democracy especially in a minority government situation. It is an abuse of power and cannot be tolerated. Parliament serves to provide Canadians with transparent and accountable government.

  15. We need a revolution . Anarchy now !

Sign in to comment.