Great moments in Canadian innovation - Macleans.ca

Great moments in Canadian innovation

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Richard Foot reports that in no other similar democracy has a prime minister prorogued Parliament to avoid trouble.

It turns out, no other English-speaking nation with a system of government like ours — not Britain, Australia or New Zealand — has ever had its parliament prorogued in modern times, so that its ruling party could avoid an investigation, or a vote of confidence, by other elected legislators.

Only three times has this happened, all in Canada — first in 1873, when Sir John A. Macdonald asked the governor general to prorogue Parliament in order to halt a House of Commons probe into the Pacific Scandal. Lord Dufferin gave in to the demand, but when Parliament reconvened Macdonald was forced to resign. No prime minister dared use prorogation to such effect again, until Stephen Harper convinced Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean to suspend Parliament in 2008, so the Conservative party could evade a confidence vote. A little more than a year later, he did it again.