By the way -

By the way


Jack Layton has just requested, and the Speaker has just denied, an emergency debate on the Prime Minister’s power to request prorogation. The Speaker did not see sufficient and pressing necessity to have such a debate now, especially with the agenda already full with debate on the budget and other matters.


By the way

  1. I guess that would be the same Speaker who has remained totally silent when faced with a Government that twice has shut down the House he presides over so as to suspend the rights of MPs to meet, to investigate matters in committees, to ask questions and to speak.

    I shudder to think that it is this Speaker, along with the constitutional disaster that is our current GG, who are charged with protecting our democratic and constitutional rights.

    • It's not the job of the Speaker to advocate for the opposition when their agenda can't get past unconvincing fearmongering.

      • Pretty much anything.

  2. As much as I would like to see such a debate, the Speaker's right, there's no grounds for an emergency debate – unless Harper intends to prorogue again some time next week.

    • I agree. It is something for a debate, but it isn't an emergency. Having said that, it could be classified as 'urgent,' perhaps.

  3. The speaker is absolutley correct of course prorogation is fundamentally a scheduling issue that is up to the PM and the House only needs to sit once a year so where is the emergency jack mentioned and by the way jack was not expecting any other answer from the speaker.

  4. I was not reacting so much to this particular ruling so much as the overall complacency of this Speaker when faced with serious erosion of MPs rights from this rogue minority government.

    One of the Speaker's roles is to defend the rights and privileges of Members, including the right to freedom of speech. This Speaker has been sadly unwilling to so much as lift a finger to stop Harper's attack on our democratic institutions.

    As noted above, with this Speaker and the constitutional disaster we have as GG defending our rights, and a weak and inexperienced leader of the Opposition, our parliamentary democracy is indeed at best wobbly right now.

    • I don't think it's the Speaker's responsibility to do as you suggest. Backbench MPs comprise the majority of the House. The only things that get done to them are the things they allow through complacency, fear, self interest, etc.. to be done to them.

      If you could find anything that cites the Speaker as the active defender of their rights and privileges, who could unilaterally do things on his own, I can't find them in any of the online resources at the House of Commons.

  5. Milliken must go! He is the worse Speaker the House has ever had. He is the principal opponent of reform. He has no respect for Parliamentary supremacy. He must go!!

    • With whom would you replace him?

      • A broom would probably cost less, and do just as much.

        • I was thinking a coupon for Swiss Chalet.

      • There were a bunch of legitimate contenders, I thought, at the last chance to vote for a Speaker.

        • there were indeed Jenn

          I do like the idea of keeping the speaker as an opposition member. But I concur with Jack and others. Milliken must go! He is dismal and unwilling to enforce the rules and procedures. If Lee moves forward with this plan, it will interesting/scary to see how Milliken plays it.

    • Jack,

      Parliamentary supremacy does not refer to the membership of the Hosue of Commosn being numerous enough to exercise control over the Executive; that's Responsible Government. Parliamentary Supremacy is a parliament where no other institution – like a supreme court – can review or overturn laws, only interpret them as best they can.

      • Thanks for the clarification, Be_rad. That sounds very sensible. But is Responsible Government not a corollary of the supremacy of Parliament? Just as no other institution can overturn laws, so can no other institution, like the Crown, govern without the consent of Parliament; those seem to me to be parallel concepts, each premised on the fact that only Parliament has democratic legitimacy.

        • You can have one without or with the other. New Zealand has a supreme parliament. We never have. We were the whelps of Mother Parliament, checked back to the Mother Parliament and were not emancipated until 1982. We already had a supreme court then and we gave them additional responsibility to overturn laws contrary to the charter on top of being against jurisdictional elements of the constitution.

          RG is just having the executive constantly answerable to the House of Commons and always subject to the confidence convention. At least that's how I understand them.

          • might quibble a little bit with this part, Be Rad. the design of RG and the supremacy of the House both emanate from Parliament's democratic legitimacy, though I suppose that you are quite correct that you could plausibly have RG without affirming the tenets of parliamentary supremacy in so far they apply to the power to things like the power to demand the production of people, papers and records. though to the degree that you sets limits on the power doesn't, unto itself, necessarily diminish the overarching supremacy of Parliament. I think you would more likely see the diminshment of the supremacy of parliament where it was subjected to the powers of a head of state.

          • S&M,

            I think the ability to send for papers and etc… has more to do with parliament's privileges and powers than the concept of RG or PS. From the House website, which has lots of good stuff on these topics, these powers are pretty strong, especially, you would think, with respect to demanding a government produce them. The government is right there, as part of RG, among them. The could withold their budget for next year, call them on contempt, ride them mercilessly in committee and the House and generally make their lives miserable until the goods are delivered. Ultimately, they could vote non-confidence. But that is independent of PS, which if you google around, shows it is based mostly on whether or not its laws can be overridden. Ours can.

            You are right that RG is a feature of representative democracy.

          • Be Rad,

            We agree on more than we disagree i think, including the scope and strength of parliament's privileges and powers, including the ability to compel PPR and some of the possible sanctions and modes of recourse available. But I would mention that the courts ability to override parliament's laws are only partial (see the notwithstanding clause) and the court's have no say on the matter of the scope of parliament's privilege, per se, and how they choose to enforce them. This is evident in a previous ruling Iacobucci himself signed on to:

            "In summary, it seems clear that, from an historical perspective, Canadian legislative bodies possess such inherent privileges as may be necessary to their proper functioning. These privileges are part of the fundamental law of our land, and hence are constitutional. The courts may determine if the privilege claimed is necessary to the capacity of the legislature to function, but have no power to review the rightness or wrongness of a particular decision made pursuant to the privilege."

            I think the PS was prob clearer in years gone by, but almost all advanced democracies now have tendered a certain degree to which the courts constrain their power.

  6. You're probably right. Anything that might be used to clean house is obviously not an analogous replacement for Milliken. Something chicken related is much more appropriate.

    • LOL. Plus an infinitely refillable Diet Coke.

      • Order! This House is in Recess for four minutes, and will stand in recess in a half hour for four minutes, and shall be in recess for four minutes every half hour thereafter… (runs off to men's room)

  7. Jack,

    Parliamentary supremacy does not refer to the membership of the Hosue of Commosn being numerous enough to exercise control over the Executive; that's Responsible Government. Parliamentary Supremacy is a parliament where no other institution – like a supreme court – can review or overturn laws, only interpret them as best they can.

    • Someone is very clever. Can I pull the catapult sometime?

      • If I had any Flash-coding skills, you would be the first person invited to play the (highly addictive) EPM game.

        • Awww, thanks Jack. Maybe its good for me that you don't have any flash-coding skills. I'm addicted to enough things already!