An over-looked moment in Canadian innovation

Canwest attaches a correction to Richard Foot’s review of prorogations past.

A Canwest News Service story in Saturday’s paper said incorrectly that John A. Macdonald and Stephen Harper are the only prime ministers to have prorogued Parliament to avoid an investigation by elected legislators. In fact, Jean Chrétien’s decision to prorogue Parliament in September 2002 prevented the delivery of a report, written for the House of Commons public accounts committee, into the sponsorship scandal.

Reviewing Canadian Press clips from the time, it seems Mr. Chretien, before the House had returned from its summer break, asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament on Sept. 16 of that year. The House reconvened for a speech from the throne on Sept. 30.

In March, the Globe had broken the story of questionable government dealings with Groupaction. The Auditor General followed with a report into those contracts in May and consequently launched a full investigation. The public accounts committee proceeded with its own hearings that spring and was expected to release a report that fall.

Though prorogation dissolved the committee, Canadian Alliance MP John Williams was re-elected chair on Nov. 7 and pledged to resume the committee’s work. After some degree of procedural wrangling and amid accusations of government stonewalling, the report appears to have been delivered on Mar. 20, 2003.