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When the going gets tough


 

The Prime Minister is rumoured to be considering the reset button.

Rumours swirling around Ottawa suggest the Conservative government is thinking of shutting down Parliament until after the Olympics, killing some of its own bills but also ending the discussion of Afghan detainees that is nibbling away at Tory popularity.

“I have heard that from some of the public servants,” Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said Monday of a potential prorogation. “The word they are getting is ‘get ready to clear the decks. Anything that needs to get done before a parliamentary session ends, get it done.’ ”

Conservative staff members said they also have received hints that a prorogation may be in the offing. But a spokeswoman for Government House Leader Jay Hill said his office “won’t indulge the Hill rumour mill.” The rumours suggest that Parliament would return in March, when the Games are over, with a new budget that could be used to provoke an election.


 

When the going gets tough

  1. I wish I had job that paid $155,400 per annum and could randomly decide if I was going to show up for work or not.

    • nobody does. GG would not grant a second request a year later.

      • ??

        What's the basis for that idea?

        Harper has the confidence of the house. Harper has a valid reason – reforming the committee structure so they don't ammend his anti-crime and consumer safety bills anymore.

        Why would the GG refuse a short three month break?

          • In the article.

            The party standings on the committees are fixed until there is either a new election or a proroguement.

            So even if they do get a majority, they'll still have a minority on each individual committee until this is done.

            Seems like an exceptionally valid reason to me !

          • not surprised but given that nothing has happened to shift the power balances of committees they should not be changed. unless you think the current government is entitled to having an easier go?

        • "Why would the GG refuse a short three month break? "

          Why would he need three months, Jesse? That is a whole quarter where govt is basically shut down!

      • sea n mountains, she won't have a choice. It would be a bold request from Harper considering what has happened but the man has done worse. If he comes to her, she won't have a choice but to give him what he wants.

        • technically she has a choice Pol, but i suspect you are right re the outcome… it was mostly a visceral/hopeful reaction.

          that being said, GGMJ in the one interview she talked about her decision last yr did centralize her consideration of her assessment of the best interest of the country. she appears to be more willing to exercise discretion than others in her position might be.

    • Because an election campaign is not work?

      • "And one may argue that the country is better served when the whole lot of these people are NOT sitting together in the same place, scheming up nonsense. "

        Why not just do away with the cumbersome Parliament while you are at it, huh?

  2. I'm feeling a bit thick tonight…by "prorogue" they mean calling another election right?

    • No, it would just be a suspension of Parliament. The Olympics end on 28 February, so basically he's planning to avoid the House for 10 weeks. Maybe you're thinking of a "dissolution" of Parliament, which would involve going to an election to get a new one.

      • Riiight. I *knew* I was missing something. I wonder how our favourite hyper-partisans could spin this as proof of his awesomeness?

      • When would the House reconvenen? Would it sit at all from now to March?

        • No, ten weeks in Cuba for our hard-working representatives.

          • Many of our NDP friends would feel right at home.

          • I don't think it's an exclusively socialist passtime to segregate yourself on a resort beach, consume as many cuba libres as your constiuttion can handle and babble incoherent sincereties to the help about how they should totally come visit if ever they're in Canada.

          • No, but I prefer Key West to Cuba for a reason.

          • the overpriced salt water margaritas?

          • In fairness, the hard-working Members of Parliament are probably using the break (however long it really is – I've heard nothing but speculation thus far) to address their many responsibilities, and to fully earn their keep. It's the lazy ones that we need to look out for.

    • No, it just means ending the session. Then we start again with a new Speech from the Throne and all that.

      But it seems to me that he must go to the Governor-General for her to prorogue parliament. And Parliament has ordered Minister MacKay to produce the documents to the committee tomorrow! So, if he doesn't, immediately upon sitting again the House would have a point of order charging him with contempt, I think.

      The Governor-General ruled in Harper's favour last time out. Part of the expert opinion on why she did so was that she didn't have any tangible evidence there would be a vote of non-confidence (other than some people saying so, which is apparently not good enough) But in this case she would have the order, and the refusal to comply with the order. The contempt has already occurred, in other words. So I can't really see her agreeing with Harper again, only to avoid the finding of the contempt by the House. Unless, he goes for a walk early tomorrow morning.

      • That would be my question too! Doesn't he have to go to the GG…and does she have to grant it?

        • Yes he does, and no she doesn't.

          Though the question as to what happens next if she doesn't is the big one.

      • Jenn, do you have a link re 'no tangible evidence there would be a vote of non-confidence'? why recollection that they only thing close to an explanation from her was her appearance on the hour and there she mentioned 'doing what she was in the best interest of the country', making reference to the economy, etc. but not confidence or political/ parliamentary matters.

        that said i fully concur, i would be flabbergasted if she grant a request for prorogation two years in a row with the current government facing a hostile parliament.

        • Oh, it wasn't from her (she has the privilege to never explain herself), it was from commentators, or Constitutional experts on TV news shows. And no, I don't remember which network or who the expert was or anything like that, but the guy said something to the effect that the Governor-General isn't supposed to take political media reports and press conferences into consideration, as if she must be above such pedestrian gossip. Just one expert opinion, but it stuck with me because it was the only one that made sense to me, with the decision she made.

          • OK, thanks.

            Interestingly, by way of comparison NZ makes explicit that the public statements of the leaders of opposition members can indeed be counted as a means of withdrawing confidence.

          • Really! That strikes me as much truer to the principle of confidence.

      • This is a totally different situation from last December. I have no idea whether these rumours have any validity but if the PM were to ask the GG to prorogue, it would be highly unlikely that she would say no.

        • Are you kidding?

        • Two proroguements in one session? That is rather unprecedented in and of itself.

      • She will grant prorogation, she has to, it would be unprecedented not to. One year after last election, no question of legitimacy of government, her PM and sole constitutional counselor asks her for prorogation? Of course. No different than if he wanted election, whatever his legal and political reasons…The Crown trusts in PM's judgment, unless there are extraordinary circumstances – like asking for an election weeks after previous election, when there is viable stable governing alternative…Iggy & nervous nellies made a disastrous decision, but what's done is done and we are where we are. Cons stuck either way now, chickens or investigations. And even relative advantage of chicken route also profits Libs, as gives time for Donolo & OLO to get ducks in a row. All wins, from our point of view. But as much as I'd like to see bad legislation die on the order paper, as a democrat, no real reason to prorogue and would like to see investigation into detainee pull towards its inexorable end. My guess is exactly for that reason prorogation, Olympics, massive Govt propaganda before and after, budget with poison pill (party financing), and Spring election, in hope of getting majority and ending detainee inquiries: guess who Bloodworth reported to? Where do you think inquiry will end up, in such a centralised Govt? And what confidence would you have, were you in PMO, that public servants like Bloodworth will fall on swords to protect the big guy? Harper's a calculated gambler, we known that: he's going to double down instead. Next couple of months may be most important since Meech: can Opposition, esp. Libs, get in such order so as to stop Cons electorally? Nature of confederation (Con majority=massive decentralisation) and democracy (Con majority=zombie) at stake.

        • Shouldn't there be a reason for prorogation, i thought bread and circuses were for hoi poloi's consumption not the legislators.

          • Reforming the committee structure in the senate to reflect the new Conservative plurality is the obvious reason.

        • Hrm. If you're right about the Tory propaganda pre- and post-election, I facetiously predict that when the opposition decries the government's bills and budget in the next sitting, the Tories will hide behind our Athletes and say that the opposition does not support Canadian athletes representing our nation abroad and at home.

        • If you are right, that's just sad.

          Under normal circumstances, it is good for GG to take the advice of her first minister. Even under extraordinary circumstances, I would want the advice of her first minister to weigh heavily on her decision. But I find it ridiculous that the advice of her first minister is the ONLY consideration for making a decision, which is basically what you're saying.

      • From their text on procedure:

        In addition, when the House is prorogued, no documents may be tabled until the first day of the new session. If documents requested through an Order of the House or an Address to the Governor General have not been tabled at the time of prorogation, the requests carry over from session to session, within the same Parliament. They are considered to have been readopted at the start of the new session without requiring a motion to that effect.[125] Requests for government responses to committee reports and petitions survive in the same manner.[126]

        So granting prorogation would not effect the status of the order to produce the documents.

        Regardless, there are no grounds currently in play anywhere close to what was in play last year. Therefore, she will not resist a call for prorogation.

        • Ah well, that is true. As I said before it wouldn't make any difference. But I argue that is why she *shoudn't* prorogate. I do see your argument that not making any difference combined with the advice of her first minister means he would win that one.

        • At what point does the GG say, "No, you actually have to spend some of the time governing?" Can a PM just prorogue his entire 4 year stay and get paid for nothing?

          I don't think so.

          Two proroguations between elections is rather unusual, I would think, if not unprecedented in and of itself.

  3. When the going gets tough…
    Harper seeks prorogation.

    wimp

  4. I guess he's weighing the advantages of avoiding the torture file for 10 weeks as vs. the disadvantages of being accused, on the election trail, of cowardice, nonchalance, and abuse of power.

    • Agreed; but if Ignatieff doesn't step up to the plate, it'll work.

    • He could spin those positively in a way his base would understand.

    • Thank god for rumours; we wouldn't be able to conjure up such unlikely scenarios.

      Not that I think he's actually going to prorogue parliament but don't think the election accusations you propose are any different from the ones from previous elections.

      This is not like last year; the Liberals are not as discontent with their leader.

  5. I'm both angry, yet not surprised. Canada is a Monty Python movie; thanks Harper.

  6. Interesting note.. if he prorogues, the Employement Insurance Bill.. the one that let Layton support the government.. dies. As does the Crime act.. the one that Harper's party made such a hullaballoo about how important it was to get through..
    ..obviously not as important as protecting MacKay or unemployed workers, however, I mean.. let's be real here, people.

    • Just how many major bills have gone by the way due to Harper either proroguing or breaking his own election law, and in how short a time frame…has he set some kind of new record?

      • Quite a few, including just about all of his never-serious efforts on Senate reform. They've already died twice on the order papers. Perhaps people will now catch on that Harper's vision and mandate is to make sure the Federal Government does not work, does not produce useful legislation and does not produce national programs of any significance. To do so would violate his unreformed Reform beliefs in local fiefdoms and minarchism. Bankrupt the Fed, devolve to the Provinces, ensure no common cause amongst Canadians, go home and opine in a think tank. Sad, as there are only 33 million of us and it's a big league world out there.

      • Quite a few, including just about all of his never-serious efforts on Senate reform. They've already died twice on the order papers. Perhaps people will now catch on that Harper's vision and mandate is to make sure the Federal Government does not work, does not produce useful legislation and does not produce national programs of any significance. To do so would violate his unreformed Reform beliefs in local fiefdoms and minarchism. Bankrupt the Fed, devolve to the Provinces, ensure no common cause amongst Canadians, go home and opine in a think tank. Sad, as there are only 33 million of us and it's a big league world out there.

    • In particular, Bill C-6 that is in the Senate (the Consumer safety one, which gives the govt power to mandatory recall unsafe items,) was also urgently pressed by the Harperites to pass it because kids would die without it or some quote to that effect from the Minister.

      That would also go by the wayside on prorogation.. and I'd be throwing that back in their faces if he pulls the prorogation stunt – because apparently trying to limit political damage from the detainees scandal and avoid a possible Speaker's Warrant over handing over unredacted documents has taken precedence over kids dying.

    • Don't forget the gun control legislation and the "tough on child pornographers" law over which he accused the Bloc of being soft on child pornographers because they wouldn't help get this "desperately necessary" legislation passed quickly.

      • Oh my. Killing the gun control bill should make the base really happy.

  7. Precisely. People are, sadly, that stupid.

    • Not stupid. Unlike us commenters, they just don't pay attention in between elections.

      For all the grief following the actions of the PM has given us, maybe that's the smart thing to do…

      • Not to pay attention to what your leaders are doing is ignorance. CHOOSING not to pay attention to your leaders is stupidity.

  8. I meant "reconvene"

  9. Or Harper could just resign. Yes, good for Canada too.

  10. Ya know, it strikes me that Ralph Goodale must have missed Peter Donolo's memo telling the Grits to stop chasing headlines.

    • C'mon.. if Harper prorogues, you can tell how serious this Afghan detainee issue is for them, and how desperate they would be to avoid any more political fallout from this, if they're willing to prorogue and kill all those bills they demanded the opposition passed. Even aloyal Harper partisan should be able to admit that.

      • You could also tell how serious Harper is about expanding EI to those 'people who are really hurting in these tough economic times' or some such insincere blather, and his law-and-order agenda (how many times is he going to put that baby on the agenda, only to kill it? I mean to say, how many times before people realize he's not serious about it.)

  11. I'm also wondering if the Governor-General couldn't just order an election. Because if MacKay doesn't produce the documents tomorrow, we will have a contempt charge, which they'll ignore, resulting in MacKay's expulsion until he produces the documents (heh, Harper can rid himself of MacKay by doing absolutely nothing!) and when he still doesn't produce the documents there will be a vote of non-confidence anyway.

    And it doesn't even matter if there's a prorogation in the middle. There is no way the opposition can let this slide no matter how much time intervenes between non-compliance and the contempt motion.

    So, GG might as well skip to the chase.

    • when he still doesn't produce the documents there will be a vote of non-confidence anyway

      Keep dreaming. If the Liberals choose to fight an election on this and solely this, they will lose, and they know it. They wouldn't dare.

      • I don't think you understand, avr. At the point of a non-confidence vote the question would be do you vote to support Parliamentary Democracy, or do you vote to install Harper as Dictator. The risks to the Liberals would be completely irrelevant. If they bankrupt the party and lose every seat, they would consider it the price to pay in order to Stand On Guard for Thee. And they took an oath to do just that, and many Liberals consider an oath a serious thing. There is something about honour that means risks to oneself do not outweigh doing the honourable thing.

        Oh. Of course you don't understand.

        • You are now postulating a total wish-fulfillment fantasy, where your team of brilliant, selfless democrats stands up against the irredeemably wicked fascists and heroically brings down the Worst Government Ever, set against the backdrop of a swelling brass rendition of O Canada. Ignatieff will spout snappy Sorkinesque one-liners about righteousness and justice and civic virtue, and a single tear will run down your cheek as you smile bravely, etc.

          Now all of that's a lovely picture, I'm sure. But, I'm sorry, dear; that's not what's going to happen. The Liberals are not going to support a possibly-viable non-confidence vote over maybe-possibly-kinda-sorta awareness of maybe-possibly-kinda-sorta torture in Afghanistan, perpetrated by Afghans, on Afghans; that's not a winning campaign theme.

          • I think, by focusing on whether the Liberals have a "winning campaign" you are focusing on the wrong thing.

            Canadians don't like it when our government, regardless of party, thinks that it is more important than some of our fundamental values and institutions. That is why Harper's corruption of Parliamentary democracy last December was seen as the lesser evil than the coaltion. As polls this week show, Canadians don't object to coalitions, but THAT coaltion and the way it was formed they certainly did.

            That is also why Canadians right now would be very concerned about a government run amok with Parliamentary oversight and Parliamentary democracy. Polls are showing clearly they don't believe Harper's ever-changing stories on this file and think he is lying. Add an attempt to subvert Parliament altogether because he is not getting his way again and we will bite back. Like Adscam, it won't be about the opposition. It will be about the government and its behaviour.

          • I'm focusing on Jenn's delusions, at the moment, and how in her enthusiasm for a heroic clash of good vs. evil she's forgetting Wells' First Rule.

          • Hey, it's not all bad. If Jenn and her friends keep having delusions, we may well get an election after all. I seem to recall Jack and Mike and Gilles not wanting one,, but who am I to read their minds.

          • As much as Canadians don't like the idea that our forces were somehow implicated in torture of prisoners, what they really care about is how that mishap was the Government's fault and how the Government tried to hide it.

            That's an election platform worth considering.

          • Sniff. That was beautiful avr, thank you.

            You have a couple of things wrong though. First, It most definitely is not a wish-fulfillment fantasy on my part, because I am very much against the necessity of going there. As, of course, are other Liberals because the polls show we are in no shape for an election. But if required to go there, I stand by my prediction.

            Secondly, it would be more than a single tear. I would be crying outright–probably sniffling as well. Not attractive as per your scenario, but I am a realist as well as an emotional sop.

    • Expelling MacKay might be unlawful – based on the Australian case law CBC pointed out anyway. Also, the Australian courts seem to believe Parliament does not have the power to compel the release of sensitive information – that needs to be determined on a case by case basis by the courts. If the opinions linked to by Macleans earlier say something different, please let me know. But, in terms of public policy, there are probably more sensible and useful ways for the opposition to proceed. In terms of politics, it's likely that parliament and politicians are unpopular while the military is popular, so the debate is currently framed to the opposition's grave disadvantage.

    • Expelling MacKay might be unlawful – based on the Australian case law CBC pointed out anyway. Also, the Australian courts seem to believe Parliament does not have the power to compel the release of sensitive information – that needs to be determined on a case by case basis by the courts. If the opinions linked to by Macleans earlier say something different, please let me know. But, in terms of public policy, there are probably more sensible and useful ways for the opposition to proceed. In terms of politics, it's likely that parliament and politicians are unpopular while the military is popular, so the debate is currently framed to the opposition's grave disadvantage.

      • The Aussie courts ruled that only cabinet documents were off limits,everything else was fine[ as i recall] The opposition [ours] is not asking for cabinet docs. And i don't get your first point…the Aussie MP was tossed for a day and ritually shamed by it.

        • Here's the quote from commentary on the Egan case: The other side to this practical question concerns the steps governments may take to claim immunity for sensitive documents, be they defined as a class or otherwise.
          If Sankey v Whitlam is a guide, then it is likely that a case by case approach will be adopted,at least to those documents which are not clearly identified as disclosing the ‘actual deliberations of Cabinet.'"

          Sp, sensitive documents seem to be a class apart from Cabinet documents – the government may be compelled to release them in certain cases, but not generally.

          On my first point, the courts ruled that expelling Egan was unlawful. Yes, it happened but the courts have ruled that it should not have happened. It would be weird for Canada's Parliament to copy that unlawful act.

          <a href="http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&ved=0CA4QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhttp://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au%2Fprod%2Fparlment%2Fpub... target=”_blank”>http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&source=web&amp;…” target=”_blank”>www.parliament.nsw.gov.au%2Fprod%2Fparlment%2Fpublications.nsf%2Fkey%2FResearchBf151999&rct=j&q=Egan+v+Chadwick+and+Other+Recent+Developments+in+the+Powers+of+Elected+Upper&ei=LLUnS_TlDNDelAf3iPCmDQ&usg=AFQjCNFSYqv3q_YoiAwUZgrCk97iSRiFDA

          • Could you post the link again, because every mention of these cases I found at the CBC say not only that the courts ruled that Egan's suspension was perfectly lawful, but that the courts ruled it was lawful unanimously, twice, in two separate cases.

            Here's the CBC quote on the second case of Egan being expelled:

            "Once again, the council found the minister in contempt of parliament. Once again he was suspended. And the Usher of the Black Rod was again called to remove Egan, but this time, the honorable member had already left. Apparently he knew the drill.

            The issue wound up in the NSW Court of Appeals. And even here, with the government arguing the welfare of the state was at issue, the court was unanimous in its ruling against the government.

            The only solace for the government was a split decision on the degree to which actual cabinet deliberations enjoyed some immunity. But I would think most governments would find it cold comfort to hear that cabinet deliberations were in any way up for grabs.

            So there it is. The plucky legislative council of New South Wales giving us all something to think about in the weeks ahead.

            A couple of interesting points about this council:

            From a legal perspective, the council of New South Wales is considered one of the weakest in the country. For example, its privileges have not been codified. In other words, written down in a book. And its power to punish is very limited.

            On the other hand, the Parliament of Canada is arguably the strongest in the country. Not only are its privileges written down in a fancy little book now known as "O'Brien and Bosc", but according to the Supreme Court of Canada, they're actually part of our Constitution.

            Now what happens down under isn't binding on courts here. But the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on a couple of cases that would be".

      • I have to imagine that important details in constitution and law might make exact comparisons irrelevant. Principles, conventions and the like can be compared and used from time to time, but the details of the constitutional and legal framework dictate.

        • No doubt – it seems the Gagliano (2005) case is the best discussion we have of the Canadian context. What does it say about sensitive documents and whether Parliament can suspend members for failing to disclose them?

          • That it's a political decision of the majority.

      • Didn't the courts rule in that Aussie case that expelling the Minister was perfectly lawful? Now Canadian precedent, and the relative power and importance of the Parliament of Canada as compared to the power an supremacy of the Legislative Council of New South Wales also tend to favour the opposition's position, but in the very case you cite the Aussie courts ruled AGAINST the government, and the Minister WAS expelled, albeit only for one day. "The suspension was for just one day. But the minister contested his suspension in the courts. It didn't go so well for the government here either. The NSW Court of Appeal and the High Court unanimously ruled against the government".

        In fact, on another issue,the same Minister was found in contempt again, suspended again, and the courts AGAIN unanimously sided with the legislature over the government. There was, admittedly, a split decision on whether or not CABINET documents deserve secrecy (answer: Yes) but given that our current situation in Canada doesn't involve Cabinet secrecy in any way whatsoever, this is hardly a compelling precedent.

        Were you talking about another case mentioned at the CBC, because both Aussie precedent cases I found at the CBC argue the opposite of what you say they do.

        • No, the courts ruled that expelling him was unlawful. Perhaps the courts thought throwing him out of the chamber was ok.

          "In concluding that the forcible ejection of the Minister from not merely the chamber but also from the precincts of Parliament was unlawful, the court must surely have been applying some notion of proportionality."
          E Campbell, ‘Parliament privilege and orders for production of state papers' (1997) 8 Public
          Law Review 219 at 223.

          • Yeah, I think that's the point though. Suspending him was within the Council's power. Kicking him out of the chamber too. What the court objected to was having the Usher of the Black Rod physically remove the Minister not only out of the chamber, but out of the building, off the property, and all the way to the street.

            As I've said before, I don't really think this Aussie example is a relevant precedent anyway, given previous rulings of our own Supreme Court, and the relative powers, importance, and constitutional standing of the Legislative Council of New South Wales as compared to that of the House of Commons of Canada, but even to the extent that there's a precedent, I think the precedent is in favour of the legislature over the government in every way that our federal opposition could even think of applying. I'm pretty sure the opposition could claim that they can suspend Peter MacKay, bar him from the floor of the House of Commons, and that they are entitled and empowered to compel the production of the documents they've been seeking, and in each of these cases the "precedent" of the Egan case would actually be in the opposition's favour.

          • That makes sense – Parliament can do something to MacKay (or another representative of the Government), but it has to be proportional or reasonable. There does seem to be some question about Parliament's ability to obtain sensitive documents in Australia, but I don't know what the Canadian law would be on this point. Still, it's hard to believe the opposition wouldn't want to find a less dramatic, but more practical, approach. The news today about the security certificate process suggests to me that we're better off with strengthened oversight mechanisms than relying on Parliament. I'd prefer to see efforts to ensure the MPCC functions well.

          • I should say too that "reasonableness" would also presumably have a time implication. At a certain point you'd certainly have to let MacKay back in, as he is the elected representative of his constituents. At the very least, if the House were not willing to re-admit him I think a by-election would have to be called to give the voters of his riding the last word.

            I'd also love to see the MPCC better able to function as intended, and I do take your point on not "relying on Parliament" but I would also reiterate the fact that the House of Commons are the elected representatives of the people of Canada. Certainly other mechanisms can and should be put in place to hold the government to account, but we need to keep the primacy and supremacy of Parliament in mind in all of this too. At the core of it all, it's the House of Commons (in our system) that gives us responsible government. We already rely on Parliament in this sense, and indeed Parliament is in many ways solely responsible (and solely capable) of keeping the Government in check. If the ability of the House of Commons to hold the government to account gets watered down somehow, then the very foundation of our democratic governance is eroded. If Parliament's supremacy and primacy aren't maintained, then we're arguably not a democracy any more. As I believe Jack said in another posting, we've fought civil wars over this stuff. It's pretty important stuff.

  12. Coming off a jubialent Olympics, and in the context of Canada leading the World out of a nasty recession – leading by a long shot,

    the conservatives will stand in stark contrast to the far left and their friends in the media's embrace of their pet issue.

    I'm surprised at the concern here. After all, those who have flogged the Afghan issue endlessly must surely be happy that the fruits of your labor will be put to the electoral test.

    We'll see what average folks around the dinner table consider more imporatant to them: the economic stability of their children,

    or improving the well being of catpured Taliban monsters.

    • I'm sure their children will appreciate the deficit.

      • Perhaps your right,

        perhaps the Olympics will be somber, why with the hockey and figure skating crowds' sombre thoughts preoccupied with that suspected roadside bomber, half way around the world.

        Yes yes, I must take off my tinfoil hat and get back to reality.

    • Canadians showed quite clearly in 2004 and 2006 that sometimes economic stability can take a second seat to higher principles of democracy, decency and accountability.

      Canadians do care if their government is lying to them, Biff. We care a heck of a lot.

      • Yes,

        the same high principles (and the same people crying out for those principles) in giant chequegate, pooping puffingate, atethewafergate etc, etc, etc, Of course.

        Partisanship would have nothing to do with it of course. The anti-Harper highly political rhetoric that accompanies these stories/comments, all purely coincidental.

        It's about "caring"…a "heck of a lot"…about decency…to Taliban prisoners…

        Of course it is.

        • Why bother reconvening Parliament at all?

          Are prorogations going to become the norm? Proroguing now will stink even more than last time.

        • Actually, it's about caring about our soldiers, which our government put in harm's way by not addressing an agreement when there was evidence of torture that they knew or were negligent in not knowing. Soldiers who followed that agreement and those orders were running the risk of War Crimes, to avoid this, our soldiers had to make decisions outside and perhaps even against the negotiated agreements — which would of course bring a risk of disciplinary action for not following orders.

          Our gov't, on the other hand, left them in that situation. Left them vulnerable to accusations of being complicit in war crimes for the crime of being a good soldier for the better part of a year.

          Thankfully our soldiers are made of strong moral character and knew that the right thing to do was not what our government said it was.

          So tell me, biff.. why are you against our soldiers? Why do you want them to have to face War Crimes charges?

    • The issue wouldn't be the Afghan detainees. The issue would be Harper's contempt for the people of Canada.

    • Biff, If the roles were reversed and the Liberals were pulling thisd kind of schtick, you would be screaming bloody murder and you know it. Why is it alright when Harper does it?
      SH rode into town promising a new kind of accountable politics and now he has morphed into the very kind of manipulative sleazebag he swore to banish.
      Now you might not like the alternative leaders and I can't blame you, but supporting this kind of pantload is denial at best and abandonment of principles at worst.

    • http://www.visioncritical.com/wp-content/uploads/

      Careful what you wish for dear Biff. There's been an 8 pt swing in favour of the Liberals over this issue…and interestingly enough, 42% of Canadians polled support a coalition between the NDP and Liberals.

      c'mon buddy….play misty for me one more time…call it "shoegate" in a dismissive fashion. I do love the classics.

    • I lament that there are probably a lot of people like you.

      I would humbly suggest that the Conservative's performance on the financial file clearly demonstrates that they don't give a rat's ass about the economic stability of our children.

  13. Ah, who needs a Parliament?

    • Who needs a federal government? Things run fine when the House is empty…

  14. This would be the third time in 4 years Harper has run away from Parliament; September 2008 'dysfunction' aka Bernier's lost Afghanistan documents; December 2008 coalition; December 2009 torture cover-up threatens Olympic glow. In contrast, the former Liberal government prorogued four times in thirteen years, and never to avoid the Will of Parliament.

    When the going gets tough, Harper shuts down democracy. What a coward.

    • This situation is not unlike what the Chinese government did for their tainted milk situation. I guess Harper got a few tips on his trip.

  15. Some constitutional authority would suggest that the GG rejecting the advice of the Prime Minister on something like proroguing is an automatic sign of lack of confidence and Harper would then be compelled to ask for dissolution. Jean could then go for an election or see if stability in Parliament can be obtained otherwise.

    Remember, according to the Conservatives, Canadians don't want a "needless and wasteful election" but want "economic stability and their MPs to just do their jobs" or words to that effect.

    • Were the GG to deny the PM's request for prorogation Harper would be entirely within constitutional tradition to insist upon an election. Perhaps the best solution all things considered.

      • he would within constitutional tradition to request an election, constitutional tradition does not have the PM demand anything of the crown.

  16. Speculation on high-risk behaviour. When the Russians beat the Swedes for gold, all bets
    are off and the national exercise in self-loathing really begins. Excellent time for an election.

    • Are you suggesting that Harper is rolling the diced based on the performance of our Olympic athletes?

    • C'mon, Sis. There'll be a loonie at centre ice…

      • Harper dropping the puck?

    • I dunno, at the moment the smart money is on Ryan Miller pulling a Hasek*. Could you imagine the fallout from a semi-final loss to the AMERICANS?!

      *Dominik F@#%ING Hasek!

  17. Presumably, the Conservatives hope that everyone will have forgotten about Afghan detainees by March.

    It will be up to the opposition to ensure that the Conservatives are forced to respect the will of Parliament, and it will be up to the media to ensure that the opposition's efforts aren't simply ignored.

  18. It's hard to take that rumour seriously. I think the Conservatives would be shooting themselves in the foot. However, it appears to me that , we live in a Harperarchy, rather than a parliamentary democracy – so who knows? Only Harper,and he hasn't said anything yet.

  19. This sounds like someone in the PMO sending out a trial balloon. They can gauge public opinion on prorogation, and back off if it's seen as too unpopular.

    I don't think any party really wants an election right now, since it seems all too likely to return the status quo.

    • Agreed, but neither should this prorogation fly.

      One of the issues I had with Chretien in his last days in office were what I observed to be his desperate attempts to cling to power. This looks like Harper is desperate to cling to power, too. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.

      This government rode in on a white horse of accountability. With this latest move, they've not only put the horse to pasture, they've smacked its flank and told it to run for the hills.

    • Oh, undoubtedly correct. I wonder how they gauge the trial balloon as doing?

  20. Harper cares solely about power.
    Maintaining, consolidating and gaining more power.

    I am not sure what he will do but you can bet your last lucky loonie that the decision will have nothing to do with the well being of our country, it traditions and its people or any lingering beliefs from the Reform days.

    And because he is doing all this under the venerable Conservative brand (that he stole a while back from the hapless McKay) and the somnolent gaze of the corporate media, he is alas getting away with it.

    Oh ya…. and every con-troll on this board will be tossed under the bus when it suits him.

  21. Everyone loves a process rumour!

    • A quick question about this process. Proroguation is generally used to cut short a legislative session that has completed the agenda set forth in the Throne Speech right? Usually it's a "we've finished up business so let's get back to our ridings to deal with issues there". I understand that it's also often used before an election so the Senate cannot sit during the campaign. That is, it's a benign parliamentary procedure and not a parliamentary strategy?

      Is Stephen Harper standing alone in using, or potentially using, it for such brazenly political purposes?

    • Time to snuff for substance and gaze for divine signs.

    • maybe because it very much sounds like something Harper would do.

  22. Why doesn't Harper just follow this through to its logical conclusion and use the reserve powers in the constitution to declare himself dictator for life ? It's not as if he's in favour of ministerial accountability or the right of Parliament to hold the government accountable. He hasn't seen a single independent source of accountability he didn't replace or abolish. His attacks on our federal institutions and in particular the Supreme Court prove that his basic instincts are not those of a democrat but those of a dictator. He keeps an iron grip on his Caucus that would make Stalin blush.

    I guess Canadians are okay with dictatorship. I don't hear anybody squawking about his serial abuses of power.

  23. Thanks – do you have a quote or a paragraph reference for that?

    • I think any order of the House is a political decision of the majority. They make an order, if it is refused, they vote on how to respond/enforce the order, if at all.

      There have been lots of references in these strings to the House of Commons own textbook on procedure. It can be found here: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre/Docum

      • Sorry, I meant the quote from the Gagliano case. I'd like to look at the court's wording on sensitive documents and punitive measures by the House.

        • Sorry, I was applying the general to the specific. With respect to "sensitive documents" it will depend on the legislation protecting them and whether or not it is clear that the law over rides the powers of the Hosue of Commons. If it does, in effect that trumps the powers of the House fo Commons, I think. I am not in any way familiar enough with the Gagliano case to be of specific help.

  24. The link if really ugly – it's in my reply to kcm an hour ago. It's probably better to google: Egan v Chadwick and Other Recent Developments in the Powers of Elected Upper Houses. The quote's on page 26. Even better would be to seek out "E Campbell, ‘Parliament privilege and orders for production of state papers' (1997) 8 Public Law Review 219 at 223." That's the source of the quote and should clear up any confusion.

    There are two aspects here:
    – the expulsion, which the courts either say was unlawful because it was punitive or unlawful because it was excessively punitive.
    – the order to produce documents, where the Australian courts make a distinction between government documents, Cabinet documents and sensitive documents. Our governent claims the detainee documents are sensitive documents.

  25. Why are the Conservatives obstructing the Conservatives' important law and order bills? Someone should rein these Conservatives in. Don't these Conservatives know that the people elected the Conservatives to implement the Conservative mandate? What are these Conservatives thinking? These Conservatives should stop being obstructionist, and let the Conservatives get on with the job of governing for all Canadians. These Conservatives didn't get the job done, and now it's time for them to let the Conservatives get the job done.

    • LMAO, nice one.

  26. By proroging, Harper will remove the chance to bring in an early budget in late January and getting that passed. It seems to me proroging works for the opposition because they can blame a do-nothing government which takes a two-month Christmas vacation.

    • When was the last time that stood out in your mind as a campaign slogan?

  27. I'll prorogue for Christmas;
    You can count on me.
    Please have the GG run home
    And to my request agree.

    The Opposition won't find me
    When the Parliament is closed.
    I'll prorogue for Christmas
    No Afghan doc'ments disclosed.

    Parade of Nations
    Rising! Our fortunes
    My image softens
    All seem to say,

    "Throw cares away."
    Majority is here
    Let me be clear
    Power to behold
    In li-ike gold.

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