The shorter Parliament, the unscrutinized government

As Ned Franks notes, Parliament’s 119-day sitting last year was in line with a steady decline that goes back decades—see my numbers here and Prof. Franks’ numbers here. At the time of the last prorogation, Parliament was due to sit for 136 days in 2010. If the government sticks to the current schedule for 2011, it will sit for 134 days.

Prof. Franks also points—as he did in July—to the current use of omnibus budget legislation.

They’ve also resorted more frequently to passing general enabling legislation, giving the government broad discretion to act in future without going back to Parliament for approval. The upshot is that the government evades scrutiny and Canadians are left in the dark about what their federal politicians are up to.

“I think there’s a problem there,” Franks said in an interview. “I think in the long term government itself suffers because the bills that get through haven’t stood the test of parliamentary scrutiny . . . And so, we’re governed in ignorance.”

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.