Idea alert - Macleans.ca
 

Idea alert


 

Jack Layton steps forward with a proposal.

“Today I am announcing that the New Democrats will bring proposals for legislation to limit the power of prorogation so the Prime Minister cannot abuse it. The government should only prorogue Parliament on a vote in the House of Commons. This will inform the Governor General of the will of the majority, so that prorogation happens when it is needed – not simply when the Prime Minister feels like it.”


 

Idea alert

  1. A very good idea. In practice, it would only affect minority Parliaments, but since we're in for a lot of those of the next two decades, it's a good ad hoc solution to the prorogation problem.

    And I'll betcha Layton's bill will pass.

    Of course, the PM could still advise the GG to prorogue, but I guess the GG would take Parliament's own law into consideration when exercising her authority.

    Nice to see Parliament taking baby steps towards asserting its authority. It's like the Opposition can't really believe they can, or could, do something besides rant.

    • One would have thought that the GG would take Parliament's own law into consideration when exercising her authority when it came to Fixed Election Dates as well.

      • Good point. There has to be some way of altering conventions, but what is it?

        • I don't know, but it's certainly a discussion worth having. I don't have a problem with limiting a PM's power to prorogue in some circumstances.

        • Constitutional change.

          …Or a major attitude shift.

        • Skip conventions, go legal.

          Make it an offense for the Prime Minister to request the Governor General prorogue parliament without a majority vote of the house demanding S/He do so. Those who commit this offense are guilty of a misdemeanor with a penatly of not more than 1 cent per Canadian citizen, and/or house arrest of no more than the length of proroguement.

        • I do think that this would be much more difficult to legislate than Layton seems to suggest above as, just like fixed election dates and Senate reform, there are constitutional implications that likely need to be addressed (and which can't be trumped by a mere statute). Now, the "Fixed Election Dates" debacle is not necessarily indicative that no proposed statute on prorogation could ever work (after all, that "Fixed Election Dates" gem was so poorly constructed that I don't think anyone who read it thought for one minute that it actually did what the government was claiming publicly that it did – in fact I don't see how that amendment can be seen as accomplishing anything whatsoever except taking up ink and paper). I think it could be possible, maybe, to draft legislation that could accomplish what the NDP hopes to accomplish (maybe). I'm not confident though.

          Also, frankly, as much as I loathe the current prorogation and see it as an abuse of the power by the current PM, I'm not totally convinced that Layton's intended legislation wouldn't have unintended consequences that we may actually regret at some point. I suggest our legislators not rush on this.

          • The one thing the fixed election date law does is reduce the length of a mandate from 5 years to 4.

        • "Good point. There has to be some way of altering conventions, but what is it?"

          Off the top of my head i'd say by obeying convention. Had Harper obeyed his own law it would surely have set a precendent no future PM would have likely been willing to break. Attempts to get around constitutional change without the pain of and bother of it all are mere window dressing otherwise. It has been said that's all Harper intended it to be. Attempts to reform the senate will likely run into the same problem. A convention is only as good as the last honourable man who followed it.

  2. One would have thought that the GG would take Parliament's own law into consideration when exercising her authority when it came to Fixed Election Dates as well.

  3. This makes no sense. Why not make it simpler: no prorogation beyond five working days of the scheduled start of a session?

  4. Why only a majority vote? Shouldn't reforms aim to strengthen Parliament even in a majority context?

    • It should anyway. If twenty government backbenchers decide they don't want to break until their private members' or other business is dealt with, they could delay such a prorogation. Believe it or not, MPs of multiple parties used to be able to come to agreement on things such as adjournment matters. It used to be quite normal. Prorogation should be no different.

      What if the House voted to prorogue itself contrary to the PM's wishes? That'd be interesting.

      • I could be wrong, but I think if the House voted to prorogue Parliament contrary to the PM's wishes that such a vote would be somewhat meaningless. Only the GG can prorogue Parliament, and she takes her advise from the PM (not that she can't listen to others). I'm just not convinced the GG could justify proroguing Parliament contrary to the PM's advice.

        Of course, it's all hypothetical. Under what possible circumstances would a House of Commons vote to prorogue Parliament against the PM's wishes? I can't even come up with a crazy, totally hypothetical situation in which that would make any sense.

        • "Of course, it's all hypothetical. Under what possible circumstances would a House of Commons vote to prorogue Parliament against the PM's wishes? I can't even come up with a crazy, totally hypothetical situation in which that would make any sense. "

          Unless you are talking about a majority parliament only, how about this: Minority opposition combine to stop planned legislation that they don't like, without actually having to vote against it, and without immediately triggering a confidence vote, i.e. send it back to square one. Of course that tactic would be used if they are all afraid of going into an election. They could then use the time off to try build support for their position (and engage in fundraising). The reasons for the prorogue can be made-up, just as the current government has done.

          • That hypothetical scenario is good, but I don't quite buy it. In your scenario the opposition is afraid of voting against a government motion, but wants to stop the motion, so they prorogue Parliament rather than face the vote on the motion. It makes some sense, but boy, you'd have to be pretty darned sure that you could convince voters that you prorogued Parliament for some reason other than the one that you did, 'cause if you're afraid that voters would punish you for voting against the government's legislation, how do you suppose they'd feel about you proroguing Parliament in order to stop the government's legislation without having to vote against it?

            Of course, I believe this whole line of discussion is moot, as the legislation is likely to say (essentially) "The PM must not ask that Parliament be prorogued without first receiving the support of the majority of the House of Commons to do so" and NOT "If the majority of the House votes to prorogue then the PM must advise the GG to prorogue".

          • Agree its farfetched . . . that would have the feel of real desperation about it. Rolling the dice as it were.

      • Surely, that would be a matter of confidence, and the government would fall.

        • One would like to think so, but we seem to be through the looking glass these days, what with the opposition having no confidence in the Government but voting to prop it up and the Government governing without the confidence of the Opposition; nobody wants an election, so we settle for a masquerade of Westminster constitutional principles.

    • I'm not sure what you're suggesting here. A "super majority". No prorogation unless 60% of the House approves? No prorogation unless the leader of the Official Opposition agrees?

      I'm not sure how one could strengthen Parliament with any measure that would establish that a majority of votes in the House of Commons is insufficient support to express the will of Parliament. Wouldn't raising the bar for when Parliament can act on this issue actually WEAKEN Parliament?

      • The PM would need the support of more MPs in order to prorogue. That would strengthen Parliament's role. Not sure why people are interpreting this as giving Parliament the power to demand a prorogation – it seems intended to restrain the PM's power to request one. If his power is only restrained in a minority context, we don't seem to accomplish much beyond making minority Parliaments even more difficult to maintain – does that benefit the New Democrats?

  5. Without a constitutional change, isn't this about as meaningful as our fixed election date law?

    • You could make it a criminal offense to advise the GG to prorogue Parliament without the expressed will of House. Same goes with the election law, but it seems it was written deliberately to leave that loophole. Doing this would be constitutional as it would not infringe on the prerogative of the GG, but severely punish the PM for asking her to exercise it.

      • If you make a law that contradicts the Constitution in letter or in spirit you'll find it's a good way to get that law summarily struck down.

    • Pretty much.

  6. I'm not convinced that rejigging the rules is going to help. At some point, we need governments to embrace the messy business of representative democracy. We need governments to demonstrate the occasional shred of altruism and responsibility to something greater than their own partisan gains (or survival).

    I've worked in some fairly rule-bound environments, and there's always a way to 'beat the system', if one desires. Rules can never trump sheer self-interest and contempt for the collective (be it a corporation, government, etc.).

    I'd also caution us against embracing the neocon tendency to slap laws and rules in place on the assumption that most folks will simply screw us over in the absence of such controls. We ought to at least consider the broader context first, before we hastily handcuff future governments (and think about the mixed success of balanced budget legislation as one example, or fixed election laws as another).

    If a PM is hell bent on being a self-interested power freak, then will find a way to behave in that manner. It's up to the voters to recognize and punish such behaviour, in the long run.

    • I wholeheartedly agree, I just wish that parliamentary conventions, ethics, and morality were enough to constrain our MPs.

      • They can be, if the citizens demand it. I'm worried that fixating on the PM's ability to prorogue will distract us from the core problem with this government. Layton knows this, I would hope, which makes it sadder to see him grasping for cheap populist affection, once again.

        • The difficulty with the core problem is how do you combat apathy?

          This is one area where I think Noam Chomsky had it right, our current economic and political systems are currently set up in such a way that getting citizen engagement is a losing battle. People are just too damned tired and busy with the problems in their own lives — with what it takes to lead a modern lifestyle, to generally have the time or inclination to worry about politics.

          The media system, with its focus on attracting viewers to sell to advertisers rather than on informing viewers, does nothing to aid this, and governments around the world are increasingly figuring out that the media holds no power because the gov't can choose to lock them out, lie to them, what have you, and they'll sit back and take it because the alternative is that their competitors take it and the viewership that comes with it.

          • I don't want to read too much into a Facebook group, but I'm reasonably impressed by 200,000 members. I'll be even more impressed if the forthcoming rallies are more attended. Also, the dramatic drop in polls for the Conservatives shows something of a pulse amongst the citizens (we apparently do have a wee bit of a spine, if pushed hard enough).

            I never want to see our governance guided by the principle that the citizens are too lazy or distracted to count (I know you're not saying that, but it can be a slipperly slope to assume apathy as a constant).

            Occasionally, the media doesn't matter. Harper's prorogation proved it – many pundits were certain nobody would care. Surprise!

          • Just to bring a light-hearted bit to this intensely serious discussion, I feel obligated to point out that the jello currently sitting in my fridge could easily be nailed into a wall.

            I tend to agree with the Chomsky view, which is an alternate to the "supremacy of the self-interest" view; nonetheless, Rick Mercer aptly points out that reminding Canadians of their own self-interested behaviour is generally met with derision (or a fifteen point drop in the polls, as it were).

          • Noam Chomsky's supposed to be some kind of an expert on democracy, is he?

          • Democracy requires the participation of its citizens, who would ostensibly be humans.

            Human behaviour is something Chomsky was very good at observing.

          • It's a very left-wing type of thinking. Fleeting success in the lecture halls somehow translates into astute observation of the human condition? This despite the fact that, where anything resembling Chomsky's views gets implemented, it's a total disaster. For people like him, democracy tends to be whatever he thinks it is. Which, of course, is the exact opposite of democracy.

            It literally never ceases to amaze me how many on the left, despite their radical views, keep telling us that they somehow represent the will of the people.

            Michael Moore kept saying it in 2004 and, guess what, Bush still won. The same ilk kept saying it about Obama's precious healthcare reform, and the people of Mass. proved them wrong once again.

            You see, in a democracy, you have to concede that others diametrically opposed to you can sometimes be right. I honestly never get that sense from the left.

            Anyhow….

          • "for people like him, democracy tends to be whatever he thinks it is."

            A Machiavellian would believe that democracy is whatever he thinks it is, too. Does that make Machiavellians lefties, too?

            Or how about utilitarians? Utilitarians like Locke tend to place the definition of democracy into the hands of the people, so by extension, democracy is what the people say it is. Are utilitarians all lefties, too?

          • No. As I mentioned above, it's been my observation that some leftists tend to speak on behalf of others, when there is no evidence that those others want them to, or even care. But you go ahead and keep defending the leftist!

          • Have you ever read the absent mandate thesis?

          • No.

          • Conservatives don't claim to speak on behalf of 'real' Canadians?

          • Poisoning the Well, Dennis. Go elsewhere.

          • You're the one who cited radical Chomsky as some sort of expert of democracy, not me.

          • No, I didn't. That'd be an appeal to authority.
            I said I agreed with his idea, and then presented it. It's called giving credit where it's due. I am unsurprised a follower of Harper is unaware of such a concept.

          • Oh, so you're giving a radical leftist like Chomsky credit on an issue like democracy for all people. That's fascinating thinking. Maybe you should give Rush Limbaugh credit when credit is due, too?

          • I'm starting to think Intense Debate must be screwing up again, because you're obviously reading something that I never wrote.. either that or you're simply being aggressively stupid.

          • Having been witness to Dennis's 'writing' for years I would go with the former and the latter. I now expect a response suggesting I travel to Cuba…

          • Ah, ad hominem attacks always buttress an argument, don't they. lol. You're more than welcome to respond to ANY points I've made, or are non-leftists incapable of them to you? Amazing that, in response to my point about leftists and democracy, many of you make my point for me. Thanks.

          • You're using ad hominem on Chomsky: he's a big bad liberal, ergo his argument is faulty. That's called a fallacy. It does not follow.

          • You defended something that a radical leftist said about democracy, right? Geez. Next.

          • Next what? Somebody paying attention to you I haven't noticed?

          • If Chomsky said that first past the post selects the candidate with more votes than any other, would it be wrong to defend his point? What does his being a liberal have to do with his point?

          • The reference was hardly radical. Unless your against citizen involvement. Oh wait – you worship Harper…

          • I guess Chomsky isn't radical to, wait……RADICALS! lol

    • Interesting. I suppose we could argue there hasn't been a need for a rule limiting prorogation because no previous PM has ever (ab?)used it this way. Judging from recent polls, I'm not sure how likely a future PM will be to do the same. Self-interest, not rules.

      I'm not sure how well a standard proportional representation would work in Canada. I like PR for geographically smaller countries with a more homogeneous population. In a country like Canada, while I'd like to see voters with similar beliefs to mine get more representation instead of coming in second in most ridings, I'm not sure PR would represent regional issues as well as the current system. If a system where PR seats are assigned regionally (ie, each province's votes are distributed PR among its seats), I might be for it.

      I'm a fan of Australia's preferential ballot system.

      • I'm not opposed to PR, but I think voters can still call the shots, when they choose to.

        I think spinning out the behaviour of Harper – or any neocon who doesn't really believe in the value of the office they hold and the institutions they work within – into a discussion of process isn't going to help. Rather, it will tend to give Harper something of a free pass ("it's not his fault, it's the system").

        That said, it probably is time to start thinking about how we want to manage minority parliaments in the long run. I just don't think a government-hating government is the best crew to oversee such a process.

  7. Without the text in front of me, does the constitution guarantee the right of the PMO to ask the GG for proroguement, or simply the GG's ability to grant it upon such a request?

    • Unfortunately it's part of the unwritten constitution, to the effect that the GG has to follow the PM's advice about the exercise of her Crown powers.

      • And I'm not fully convinced we want to rock that boat.

      • That's about what the GG has to do. It says nothing about restrictions on the PM, however.

      • Well, the GG has to follow the PM's advice, but I suppose the GG could conceivably ask the PM to prove he has confidence of the House. The more I think of Layton's proposal, the less sense it makes. Jack Layton could have voted non-confidence in this Prime Minister a month ago. He didn't. Parliament always has that stick. If Parliament lacks the gumption to use it, well…

    • From my reading (there's still so much in here about The Four Provinces!) the PM asking the GG for prorogation isn't part of the constitution.

      What IS, however, is the right of the GG to make decisions alone, or on the advice of the Privy Council (not the legislature), and that the GG from time to time shall call together the legislature.

      Conflicting this is the ability of the legislature to grant itself additional powers – but only (if I'm reading this right) insofar as are currently permitted by the constitution.

      It would appear then, that an Act of Parliament, short of one that amends the Constitution, is not binding for the Governor General.

      • That's as I thought. So with Andrew's or my solutions posted above (is it Great Minds Think Alike or Fools Seldom Differ, Andrew?) the GG retains full authority. The GG can even go to the PM and ask flat out, "Do you think I should prorogue?" and then choose to follow the decision or not. The idea being proposed only concerns the PM's behavior, for which there is no protection in the constitution.

  8. I have a suspicion that an act like this may actually go to far (if it can be crafted in such a way as to actually achieve what it purports to achieve). I certainly support any measure to re-assert Parliament's supremacy, and attempt to wrest power that's somehow ended up in the PMO away from the PM and give it back to Parliament, but I fear that if we move too quickly on this sort of measure we may inadvertently take away a power of the government/executive that could actually be used legitimately to an important purpose.

  9. So, according to this proposed law, couldn't the opposition abuse the power of prorogue in minority Parliament's? At the end of the day, it's always going to be a political decision. That's because, well, it's politicians who have to make it. If they're elected, I don't have a problem with it.

    I also tend to think that this current "controversy" over prorogue is blown way out of proportion. Just like with polls about attack ads, people say they don't like them, but they nevertheless respond to them. Same with Harper's prorogue. People say they don't like it, but I honestly don't think it bothers them like it does the usual suspects of Harper haters and bashers, who didn't look twice when Chretien did far worse – all in the name of progressive Liberalism. Then it's OK, I guess.

    • In minority parliaments, the opposition represents the plurality of the people anyway, Dennis, so I'm not sure you could say the power is being abused.

      • That's like saying that a majority government can't abuse the power of prorogue, which is obviously false.

        In fact, that Harper is being accused of being dictator – literally – while presiding over a MINORITY parliament, just exposes some of these absurd criticisms, and might be a compliment to Harper's skill, too.

        • That's like saying that a majority government can't abuse the power of prorogue, which is obviously false.

          The difference is that under the proposal, prorogation would require a majority vote in the House of Commons whereas a government (minority or majority) can ask the GG to prorogue without any vote of the legislature whatsoever (in fact, they can do so even if everyone in the country knows that the legislature would vote against it, or under circumstances where the government is essentially ignoring a Parliamentary subpoena). I get your point about the possibility of a so-called "tyranny of the majority", but under what possible circumstances could the opposition abuse an ability to force their own prorogation? The opposition already has the power to vote non-confidence and kick the government to the curb, so what possible reason would the opposition have to force a government to continue to govern, unfettered, and without having to face them in the House every day?

          Can you explain to me a scenario in which the House would "abuse" a power to prorogue itself? I haven't been able to come up with even a crazy hypothetical in which the House of Commons would vote to prorogue Parliament against the wishes of the Prime Minister. What possible reason could the opposition have to "force" a Prime Minister to continue to govern the country, free of Parliamentary scrutiny? Wouldn't that be like the majority of MPs voting to continuously punch themselves in the head?

        • It's a much harder problem to prevent majority governments from abusing the power of prorogation. At least forcing a PM to bring a motion to prorogue to the House would limit majority governments somewhat. What else would you suggest?

          To put it another way, just because this idea doesn't solve every problem, doesn't mean it's not better than the status quo.

    • I don't think the opposition could abuse the proposed law as it is my understanding that the law is meant to be constructed so as to force the PM to obtain the approval of the House before advising the GG to prorogue, but NOT to force the PM to advise the GG to prorogue if the House so votes. In other words, the proposed legislation stops the PM from giving a certain type of advise to the GG absent legislative support, but in no way requires the PM to give any type of advise whatsoever. The PM would not be obliged to give the GG advise that he disagrees with, he would simply be prevented from offering (one type of specific) advise that the majority of the House of Commons disagrees with.

      • Now you've done it…keep on making sense like that and DF wont come back…you were saying?

        • Wow, you are such a coward. Have anything to say to me directly? Of course not.

          For the record, LKO makes some good points. Some are capable of it. Others aren't. I'll let others decide which category you fall into.

          • I've found that alking to you is invariably a waste of time and effort…i can see a number of others seem to agree. As to my cowardice…name the place bud.

          • More unsubstantiated nonsense and bravado. I shouldn't be surprised.

          • Well perhaps bravado since we can't test it…as to nonesense, just look at all the comments around you. Denying reality is rather your speciality. And i keep making the mistake of feeding the passive aggressive. You wonder why i didn't comment directly?

      • Exactly, with the bias of the law being toward promoting continued operation of our government.

    • Hmmm … when I saw Chretien and Progressive Liberalism in the same sentence,
      I stopped reading. Again.

  10. Occasionally, someone wins the lottery. Planning your life around it probably isn't a solid strategy.

    • What can I say? Government we deserve and all that. I'd like to see greater localization of politics (such that it more closely overlaps communities), without further weakening the federation. Not quite sure how to acheive that, though.

      • Ditto. I posted an idea elsewhere about a PR scheme in which parliament determines the number of seats per party by national percentages, but determining which specific seats a party gets is done by riding percentages. It's got its problems, but it may be a step forward.

        There's also another problem in "what's a community" these days? Macleans here is a community. I probably know more about a number of people here (both those I agree with and those I disagree with) than I do about my neighbours. In turn, they probably know more about the people they work with, who may come from all corners of the city, than they do about their neighbours. Sometimes I wonder if ridings as determined by geography is really the best way to go about it anymore.

        But again.. what's the alternative. Dunno.

        So until then, I think it's not a bad idea to concentrate on specific legislation to address specific problems. In this case, the problem is that PMO has acquired too much power and has too few controls about how that power is used. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to address either or both sides of that problem.

  11. I think this would help in a majority as well if the rules were such that the Prime Miniser had to propose prorogation, hold debate on the subject and then have a vote to get the House's permission to call the GG.

    Even in a majority he or she would have to explain/justify the call for prorogation, and Opposition parties could argue their point of view. If all parties were in agreement that it was time to prorogue they could agree to suspend debate and make it a simple formality.

    I still think there is a need for a broad range of reforms to restore some balance in the PMO vs. MPs equation, but this is a start.

    • Good point. Theoretically the opposition would have an opportunity to skewer any ridiculous rationales for prorogation in the House. Any legitimate and uncontroversial prorogations can be approved without comment.

  12. A suggestion: if we do indeed end up passing legislation to control the PM's power of proroguation, we should call it "Harper's Law." Just to remind future generations why it was needed. :)

    • Okay. Now *that* I agree with.

      • (On the theme that this is an online community:)
        Motion proposed by SeanStok
        Seconded by Thwim

        Vote of this quorum of the community, say yea or nay!

  13. Conflating Arguments, dennis. Nobody here has said anything like that.

    Again.

    Go elsewhere.

    • You said that any party representing a plurality acts on behalf of that plurality, and that it doesn't lead to an abuse of power. Right? Geez.

      Some of you can't support your own arguments, then you get mad at me for pointing it out.

      That's how you approach democracy and debate, is it?

  14. You're quite persuasive, I must say.

    • Well guys if we don't want to create additional problems by limiting the prorogatives of the PM vs the GG, or set up nanny laws, it would seem we have to come at it from the other direction…strenghten the autonomy of our PMs. It's that or new laws. Conventions seem to be for gentlemen…there don't seem to be any left in higher poltics these days.

      • I like the thought, but since technically their autonomy isn't limited now, the only ways I've come up with doing this is making the riding's opinions more important than the parties.. so either some sort of voting system whereby how much of the riding approves of you is more important than a pure plurality (plugging my own idea again), or alternatively, by giving the riding some sort of recall mechanism.

        With a First-Past-the-Post voting system and more than two parties, however, designing a recall mechanism that doesn't simply result in stasis isn't easy.

        • The little i saw of recall n BC didn't win me over. Too many squeaky wheels demanding grease…but i'm open to new ideas. I could imagine what effect ecall might have on Harper right now, assuming enough cons are mad too?

  15. LOL!

    • "Harper's law"…does that mean it'll be optional?

  16. I don't think the Liberals will support it.

    • Iggy ias already on record as saying he won't! Iggy said only this : ' I promise not to use it like Harper '

  17. At the very least the PM should be required to respect protocol and submit his prorogation request in person. The GG could simply demand that the PM do so. Remember the political theatre of last years prorogation request? No wonder he "phoned it in" this year!

    • It could have been worse. Harper could have suspended Parliament through text message:

      GG – Prrg Prlmt pls.

  18. Freudian slip…of our MPs.

    • LOL, I was wondering how you were going to restrain the powers of PMs by strengthening the autonomy of PMs!

  19. Nope. But at least they'll know who to curse.

  20. You didn't comment directly because you're a coward. You haven't cited one piece of evidence for any of the claims or accusations you've made, despite the fact that I have made numerous points that I consider to be valid, which is precisely why you can't respond.

    Bravado can be tested right on here. You see, I've been in fist fights, if that's what you're referring to, but why in the world would anyone want to engage in them on a discussion site? Unbelievable.

    • I didn't address any of your points -agreed…because others were, and i couldn't be bothered. You being such a sweet guy an all. Oddly enough i don't find all that much to disagree with you on…when you aren't being disagreeable…which isn't often. I'm nowhere near as far to the left as you imagine. Now i've made an attempt at a reasonable response…surprise if you can, or care to.

      • Ah, much as i suspected no DF. When there's no point to score or attempt at humiliation to be made he's not around…talk about cowards!

    • Could you run those points (the ones you claim to have made) by us again? With all the hyperbolic rhetoric you spout they seem to have gotten lost. And 'nobody cares' is not a point.

      • I guess you have to go real slow with some people. My God.

        – Opposition parties can abuse prorogue, too.

        – Citing Chomsky on matters of democracy is ironic, to say the least.

        – Leftists often say they're on the side of the people, despite elections such as 2004 and last night.

        – You engage in mindless ad hominem attacks.

        Slow enough for you? lol

        Now, are YOU going to address any of it? Or are you going to continue to resent me for merely disagreeing with your leftist view of the world?

        Next.

        • "- Opposition parties can abuse prorogue, too. "

          Nope. I didn't see anything in the proposal about Parliament being able to compel the PM to advise the GG to prorogue Parliament.

          "- Citing Chomsky on matters of democracy is ironic, to say the least. "

          That's ad hominem. If you have a problem with the argument, address it directly. It doesn't matter that Chomsky was credited with it. He is also credited with a lot of theoretical work in Computer Science. Does that mean we should ignore those theories?

          "- Leftists often say they're on the side of the people, despite elections such as 2004 and last night. "

          That's a point?

          "- You engage in mindless ad hominem attacks. "

          What was that you were saying about Chomsky?

          • You can't possibly be serious, can you? I guess some have to learn the hard way. lol

            – I made a point about opposition abusing prorogue. You may disagree with it, but how isn't it a point? And why don't you chastise kcm and Jan for not addressing it directly?

            – How is characterizing a point by someone else as ironic an example of an ad hominem attack. Do you even know what the term teams? lol

            – Yes, my comment about leftists is a point. That you can't address is seems to substantiate it. Again, some on here seem to be outraged that people put forth views they might not like. The audacity!

            – Incorrectly characterizing my comment as ad hominem doesn't excuse Han from doing it, does it? But interesting to see that you didn't direct even one critical word in her direction. Is it because she's a leftist?

            Ah, that was easy.

            Next.

          • I was referring to what you said earlier, attempting to discredit the idea that was credited to Chomsky, simply because it was credited to him and you think he's a big bad liberal. Address the point directly, then say 'next'.

            You haven't clarified how the opposition will abuse prorogation. Prorogue is a verb, please stop using it as a noun. Do you mean the opposition, if they were to form government in the future? If you mean the opposition could abuse it by voting to have the government prorogue, this proposal does not mention being able to compel the PM to advise prorogation.

            You threw up a ridiculous strawman about how leftists say that people always agree with them. Sorry if I didn't bother touching such a ridiculous argument.

            I did you the courtesy of commenting on your points. Jan didn't say anything interesting, so was not worth responding to.

          • You said my comments about Chomsky were ad hominem. Do you now concede that they weren't? Or do you still need to look up the definition of the term?

            Why do I need to clarify my position on proroguing Parliament? The accusation against me was that I didn't have a point. Do you understand the difference, or do I need to go even slower?

            Regarding leftists, you proclaim it's ridiculous, don't address it, then presume to be engaging in a debate about views that disagree with yours? ie) a democracy? OK, lol.

            You accused me of ad hominem attacks when I didn't engage in any. Jan did, but you completely ignored her. Again, is it because you're a leftist? Do you have problems debating people who happen to challenge your precious veiw of the world? Just wondering.

          • You said:

            "Noam Chomsky's supposed to be some kind of an expert on democracy, is he?"

            This is attacking the source of the argument, not the argument itself. Feel free to look up the ad hominem fallacy for yourself. Here's a hint: it means 'against the person' in Latin.

            I didn't ask for your position on prorogation. I asked how the opposition would abuse it. The aren't proposing that they get the ability to compel the PM to prorogue. I haven't seen you clarify this.

            It is ridiculous to claim that all leftists think everyone always agrees with them. All you've done is assert this. I'm sorry, it's ridiculous and not worth arguing about. But, I'll address it anyway: no, they do not. Sometimes they think they are working on behalf of the masses, whether the masses agree with them or not.

            What Jan said is boring, so I didn't respond. I am not the forum police, and I am not your mommy. Please don't point fingers at Jan and tell me she did it first.

            I don't really consider myself leftist, and I'm not sure how left/right really enters into the prorogatiion debate. If I didn't want to engage someone who doesn't share my worldview, why am I responding to you? I am not trying to be overtly condescending, unlike you.

          • Oh my God, you keep going at it even though your abilities of reasoning and argumentation truly seem to be suspect. lol

            Yes, ad hominem means against the person. I was not attacking the person who was making the argument. I was questioning his source. Do you honestly not understand the difference? Do I have to go even slower? Holy cow.

            Yet again, I was criticized for not making any points. I clearly made at least one regarding the opposition and prorogation. Hello? Anybody there?

            I said that it's been my experience that leftists tend to claim support from the people in general, even when it's non-existent. For example, the current health care debate in the States. for the longest time, leftists kept saying that people really supported it, but only if those evil insurance companies and Republicans would get out of the way. The election last night proved leftists wrong again. Michael Moore does it all the time. Chomsky does it. They assume they represent people, but they represent their elitist selves. Again, I'm not sure why I'm not allowed to have this POINT, especially since I was accused of not having any.

            Also, my experience tells me that leftists often don't reveal their leftism. They prefer to look objective, but pursue a leftist-based agenda – precisely like you seem to be doing in this thread.

            Now, are you going to stop sulking about the fact that a person dares oppose your views of the world? My God.

          • "I was not attacking the person who was making the argument. I was questioning his source."

            You were attacking the person credited with the argument. This does not refute the argument. That is why it is a fallacy.

            You still have not addressed how the opposition will abuse prorogation. Please enlighten me.

            I'll concede that some people pretend to speak for others, when they do not in fact. This is not restricted to those on the left. Regardless of the election results in Mass., polling indicates that health care reform is very popular with the general public. That's not anyone speaking for the people, that is scientific polling giving an indication of the feelings of the American people. This is not particularly interesting, and has nothing at all to do with the proposal at hand re: voting on prorogation.

            What is my leftist agenda in this thread? I am proposing a change in parliamentary procedure. I don't think I've even criticized Harper or the CPC in this thread. This is not a rhetorical question, please fill me in.

            I'm not sulking Dennis. This is called debate. I'm not attacking you. I'm challenging your claims.

          • You are truly revealing yourself to be an ignorant person. I didn't attack anyone personally. You don't know what ad hominem means. You're in way over your head.

            I did address the point of opposition abusing Parliament. Besides, I was accused of not having a point at all. This is one, among many others. Are you truly stupid?

            What is it with some of you leftists? Do you get angry when someone dares challenge you, or expose your views? lol. Unbelievable.

            I don't sulk. I win arguments against inferior foes, hence your flailing away with absurd logic, ignorance, and intolerance of true political diversity – like a good little leftist.

          • Oh, for the love of god, I can't take it any more.

            Dennis: "prorogue" is a verb. "Prorogation" is a noun.

            Think of it like "frustrate" vs "frustration". So when you say "I made a point about opposition abusing prorogue", it's as though you said "I made a point about opposition abusing frustrate."

            A little basic literacy would help your credibility.

          • Oh my God, the horror of having misused one word among a thousand in this thread. Yes, the illiteracy is stunning. Take me to the electric chair pronto! lol.

            That you have to dwell one word, without addressing the hundreds of others, I think bodes well for my credibility. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to establish it.

          • Call it a pet peeve: I prefer triumphant ignoramuses to have a basic grasp of the language.

            The very idea that you see that narrow criticism as a broad endorsement of your overall message just confirms that I've read you correctly.

          • Actually, that you think one misuse of a rather arcane word constitutes lacking a "basic grasp of language," or feel a need to call me a "triumphant ignoramus" while exhibiting some fairly feeble reasoning and debating skills yourself, I believe suggests that you can't even read the latest on a toilet stall. lol. Next.

          • Like I said: it's a pet peeve. Like watching a schoolgirl being mean to the other kids while sporting a big, fat booger.

            Here's the sound of a triumphant ignoramus:

            "Do I have to go even slower? Holy cow."
            "Hello? Anybody there? "
            "Now, are you going to stop sulking"
            "Or do you still need to look up the definition of the term? "
            "You can't possibly be serious, can you? I guess some have to learn the hard way. lol "
            "I guess you have to go real slow with some people. My God. "
            "Slow enough for you? lol "
            "You didn't comment directly because you're a coward."
            "You see, I've been in fist fights…"
            "More unsubstantiated nonsense and bravado."
            "Wow, you are such a coward"

            Here's my suggestion: stop being such a total douchebag and maybe people will cut you some slack when you repeatedly misuse the english language.

          • If you go to my blog and check the new image I just uploaded, you'll see that even Now Magazine uses prorogue in the way I did, right under their photo. So, are they ignorant, too? lol.

            Some might also note the content of the image I uploaded. Funny how the left always talks about the need for civility and tolerance in political life, but feel no hesitation in throwing mud at those with whom they disagree.

            Kind of apt for this thread, don't you think?

  21. This law would be a good step forward. I don't know how it would work constitutionally, but at the very least it would express a general understanding on the part of Parliament that the Governor General should not consent to prorogation unless it has the support of the House.

  22. Very interesting reading folks.

    I have to think that by simply introducing a proposal like this, the appearance that SH has abused the power of his position gains more traction with the general public.
    A big turnout at the rallies will further reinforce this perception.

    Whether Jack's proposal flies or not, it is still more fuel on this bonfire

  23. You attacked Chomsky.

    I asked you to repeat your point about opposition abusing Parliament. Copy/paste will do. I didn't accuse you of having no points at all, just that one was not particularly relevant.

    I'm not angry Dennis, and I didn't say you were sulking. You're being a bit of a condescending jerk, but I'm doing my level best of ignoring it.

    Cheers!

  24. It's remarkable as we near an upcoming election (if you believe mid election cylce polling that never measures "intention" – they're always "neck and neck" see Harper Dion last time around – I've got some carbon credits to sell you),

    that the principle attack on the government is…prorogue. A mudane parliamentary procedure issue, that's far from voters minds or even awareness, and that has been done over one hundred times before.

    Remarkable.

    And a sign that the opposition will have very very little to cling to for issues as Canadians are forced to chose between the hapless Iggy,

    and a strong PM who has brought Canada through a recession in the best shape of any Western nation.

  25. The economy is and always will be the principle driver. And it's not becuase of some lame political theory.

    Concern over whether and to what extent you can eat, drive, travel, give the kids lessons, replace the aging furniture, get the kids braces

    is far more important to Canadians. To think otherwise is to engage in the most self deceptive wishful thinking.

    Which is why, when we get near an election, you will see the polls widen, as they did the last cylcle.

    And widen dramatically they will. This time to a Harper majority.

  26. I really like this idea but I'd want it to be a confidence vote. If a PM wants to shut down Parliament they would have to be willing to bet their government on it.

    Also, to ensure that even in a majority situation prorogation is not abused I'd require a formal Prorogation Debate be held before any vote on a Motion to Prorogue. I'd want the PM, personally, to make a statement describing why prorogation is needed and then the PM would be interrogated by members of the Opposition on the basis of that statement. The Debate should go on for an extended period of time- perhaps two hours or so.

    Even a PM who has a majority would have to think twice before proroguing.