'Contempt for parliamentary democracy'

Constitutional scholar Peter Russell condemns Dalton McGuinty’s prorogation.

To tell us, as Mr. McGuinty did Monday, that he asked the Lieutenant Governor to prorogue the legislature “to allow these discussions with our labour partners and the opposition parties to occur in an atmosphere that is free of the heightened rancour of politics in the legislature” is to show contempt for parliamentary democracy.

When parliamentary democracy is functioning, the great issues of the day are thrashed out in the legislature that the people have elected and to which the government is responsible. Debate in any parliamentary chamber can no doubt become raucous and full of rancour. But we didn’t fight two world wars for a democracy in which the governing party can shut down the elected legislature to escape the heat of parliamentary debate…

When parliamentary democracy is reduced to whatever is convenient for the governing party, we are coming very close to losing it.

Mr. Russell ventures that Mr. McGuinty’s prorogation is worse, in at least one respect, than Stephen Harper’s 2008 prorogation.

One of Mr. McGuinty’s cabinet ministers acknowledges “discomfort.”