Let's make a deal - Macleans.ca

Let’s make a deal


Jack Layton attempts to bargain with the Prime Minister.

“I am calling on the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision to prorogue Parliament,” NDP leader Jack Layton said on Wednesday. “I call on him to change the date of the recall of the prorogation to January 25,” he said.

“In exchange the New Democratic Party will agree to reinstate all of the bills that were sent back to square one to the place they were at prior to the prorogation, so that we can get on with the business at hand,” Layton told a scrum of reporters outside the Vancouver Public Library.


Let’s make a deal

  1. Time for a new strategy, Mr. Layton. Mr. Harper has already jumped off this ledge. Try to talking him back in will only force you over the edge with him.

    • I don't know…

      "Clearly Parliament needs some fixing," Layton said. "Including, explicitly, how we can insist upon the responsible use of the prorogation privilege."

      good strategy (if that's the correct term), especially in contrast to Michael Ignatieff's just trust me approach to future use of the prorogation. (Maybe I'm wrong about Michael Ignatieff's position, if so, please correct me.)

      • Neither right nor wrong. To my knowledge the Liberal party has not taken a position on prorogation in general yet. Any reasonable approach would be to subject it to the approval of the House (along with other items like the appointment of the GG, supreme court justices, the CDS, setting election dates etce etc)

      • I guess my cynicism got the best of me as I think Harper will not back down from what he has set in motion.

        • Name an instant where Harper has let rational thought and better behavour guide him… When he wanted to cloak the coffins of our returning dead soldiers from Afghanistan by blocking out the media and public protest showed that it was the wrong decision, he weaselled out by saying it wasn't him; when he tried to promote a potted plant in front of a mic as the 'new government's' solution for climate change, he whined that it was miscommunication; after a tape of him discussing 'offers to get a dying MPs vote' was revealed, he stonewalled all questioning by concocting a phony lawsuit that was later withdrawn once the election had passed; when he was found out to have pilfered his 'speech of the decade' from the Aussies, he blamed it on some staffer.
          That's not the track record of someone who can be counselled on the errors of his ways.

  2. is this the first public comment/statement from Jack Layton since, well, since last year?

    If so, welcome back, Jack. Nice of you to join us in this whole prorogation kerfuffle.

  3. smart move – Jacko – opening gambit ask for something big – then in the break between the 23rd and the opening Olympics – news flash # 1 : senators chosen 2: news flash # 2: cabinet shuffle news flash # 3 Harper has vistis from each opposition leader in turn news flash # 4: Throne Speech has something in it for seniors and or pensions news flash # 5 Jacko helps make parliament work – budget goes through summer break then back to fall session – who knows maybe Harper prorogues again next year if committee on detainees keeps up partisan circus as was.

  4. Wasn't Soudas on CTV a few months back saying no "backroom deals" with any other parties and that Parliament was the place for these sorts of discussions? Oops.

    • Is "a scrum of reporters at the Vancouver Public Library" really a backroom? That would be one lousy library.

    • Soudas implies that any deals outside of Parliament are not welcome.

  5. The interesting question is how you would prevent the sitting government of the day from proroguing parliament as their privilege. I’m not seeing any procedure that can be put in place to prevent this that would work in practice.

    • That's the big problem. As it is with Senate Reform as well, MPs can say that they plan to make constitutional changes unilaterally through federal action all they like, changing the constitution is actually a lot more complicated than that. Unilateral moves by the feds are generally, at best, moot.

    • I may be mistaken and welcome other procedural geeks to correct me, but couldn't an approval of prorogation by vote be adopted through the Standing Orders? Require an end-of-session speech and debate in the House by the government and a vote to concur in proroguing. Consider the vote a confidence matter through which the government could fall.

      This would give the government a chance to list their accomplishments and revisit the content of their Throne Speech. The House could then allow questions and debate like any other motion. Finally, the recorded division could thus ensure the Will of Parliament could not be circumvented.

    • Pass a law that says if the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to prorogue parliament without the approval of the House, the Prime Minister has committed an offense and has to spend two weeks in jail and pay a fine of 1 cent per Canadian citizen.

      I would argue that this is not a constitutional change, as the Prime Minister is still allowed to go to the Governor General, and the Governor General's powers have not been altered or touched one whit.. there's just a huge disincentive for the PM to use such power.

  6. In exchange the New Democratic Party will agree to reinstate all of the bills that were sent back to square one to the place they were at prior to the prorogation

    That means nothing if the Liberals and the Bloc aren't also on board.

    • it also means nothing given that it would probably happen anyway.

    • After prorogation, bills can be reinstated via a house vote. The NDP + CPC have a majority in the house, and can thus restore the bills to where they were before.

  7. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets:
    Question: How do you think like an NDPer ?
    Answer: I just think like a Liberal and remove all reason and accountability.

    • Question: How do you think like a CPCer?

      • Essay questions are too hard. Can we have multiple choice or maybe true and false?

  8. That's a trick question.

  9. Parliament not being in session though, what other leverage is there to try to force the government to let Parliament come back?

    • Not much, admittedly – though the leverage of "we'll let you put whatever bills you killed come back to life wherever they stood before you killed them" isn't much on its own, given that it's not unprecedented for Parliaments to do this anyway, regardless of the date of opening.

  10. I guess I'm the only person here who wants to see Harper agree to this deal. Of course anti-prorogationistas should if they had any manner of consistency.

    • I'm totally in favour of Harper agreeing to cancel his decision to prorogue Parliament. For me, it's all about the democracy.

      Of course, that would mean that the opposition would get to re-ask all those unpleasant questions about Afghanistan, the economy and climate change. The questions that Harper prorogued Parliament to avoid.

      It's all moot, anyway. Harper would never agree to change his mind.

      • I disagree. I think he banked that reaction to prorogation would be similar to the reaction to Chretien's prorogation over Somalia or adscam (ie. largely nonexistent). Indeed, I suspect a lot of Harper's cynicism comes from going up against Chretien. Clearly the reaction against prorogation is fairly overwhelming, and his explanations are not convincing anybody. Canceling prorogation would make him look weak, etc. but he will live.

        Harper can be very flexible when his political survival is on the line.

        • Maybe he'll actually have the gumption to call an inquiry, like Chrétien or Martin.

  11. Did he say which bills the New Democrats will send back to square one if the House returns later? The implied threat to block the Conservative legislative agenda if the House returns later is a bit odd.

    • Ya don't get to kick over the chess board in frustration then get to restart the game in progress if ya don't get yer opponents agreement

      act like a bully and ya, you will get some push back.

      got a problem with ta=hat do ya?

  12. Deal doesn't matter. The length of the prorogument is irrelevant. What is relevant is the dissolution of the various committees, meaning they will need to be restruck, which will likely lead to their work having to be restarted from scratch to get the committee members all up to speed.

    And that was the whole point of the proroguement in the first place.