WHITEHORSE – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he intends to ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament, which means the House of Commons likely won’t resume in September as originally scheduled.
Harper, who is currently on a week-long swing through northern Canada, says the government plans to deliver a throne speech in October after the Thanksgiving weekend, kicking off a new parliamentary session.
Most of the promises the Conservatives made in the last election have been fulfilled, and so the time has come for a new parliamentary agenda, Harper told a news conference Monday in Whitehorse.
“There will be a new throne speech in the fall,” Harper said.
“Obviously, the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that. We will come back — October is our tentative timing — and we will obviously have some unfulfilled commitments that we will continue to work on.”
The Conservative government will remained focused on the economy, he added.
“The No. 1 priority for this government, I do not have to tell you, will continue to be jobs and the economy.”
Harper was also asked whether he would be leading the Conservatives into the next election, a question that elicited a chuckle from the prime minister.
“The answer to the last question is, of course, yes,” he said as partisan supporters cheered.
“I’m actually disappointed you feel the need to ask that question.”
It won’t be the first time Harper has used prorogation, a standard parliamentary tool that has the effect of cancelling any legislation that’s still before the House.
In December 2008, Harper prorogued rather than face a vote of non-confidence when his Conservatives held a minority government and the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois were threatening his grip on power.
He prorogued again the following year, halting House of Commons committee hearings into the treatment of Afghan detainees and killing a number of pieces of legislation.
Prorogation jumped into the headlines again last fall when then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, embroiled in a number of scandals, resigned as Liberal leader and called a halt to business at the provincial legislature.
In Ottawa, Senate reform legislation is just one of several bills that will die on the order paper.
Other affected legislation includes changes to the Canada Elections Act to establish new rules for political loans, and a private member’s bill that would require labour unions to publish detailed financial information.
In the case of the labour union bill, also known as Bill C-377, the library of Parliament says the legislation would be restored to third reading, the last stage completed by the House of Commons.
“Thus, the bill would be sent back to the Senate in the same state it had been when it was passed at third reading by the House in December 2012, prior to the Senate amendment,” the library said in an email.
“The Senate would then begin the process of considering the bill anew; the Senate may vote to pass the bill unamended, amend the bill in precisely the same way it had been amended before, or introduce entirely new amendments.”