Canada/ Prorogation and the 2010 Winter Olympics

Lets Review.

A year ago, Harper got permission to get Parliament recessed from December 4, 2008 to January 27, 2009. Most of us first heard of the term “prorogue” and the opposition cried foul. Parliament out of action for 54 days.

Last summer, Parliament recessed from June 19, 2009 to September 15, 2009 without any fanfare.
Parliament out of action for 88 days.

Parliament recesses on December 11, 2009 till January 25, 2009. No fanfare.
Parliament will be out of action for 44 days.

Harper in the meantime gets permission to extend recess till March 3, 2010.
That extends the recess by 37 days for a total recess of 81 days, just short of the summer recess. But now, all hell breaks out from the opposition. Cries of prorogation .

About the only problem the opposition really has with the prorogation is that they did not agree to it. Fuck them . If they want, they can throw the government out after March 3. But they won’t, because Canadians really don’t fucking care. What the fuck is a few less days of a sitting parliament to us Canadians while we can devote our full attention to getting a gold medal in the next winter olympics?

And whats the problem with legally rearranging the Senate in the meantime to prevent further obstruction of government bills.

Sure, all enquiries and and government bills are terminated and resumption is at the whim of the government, but that does not apply to private member’s bills.

And , by the way, nobody really gives a flying fuck what the Afghan government does with their traitors. If we did, the opposition can get that enquiry restarted.

Just what did we lose from the first time Harper asked for prorogation ?

Lets avoid airing our laundry in front of the cameras of the world and enjoy the next couple of months until after the Olympics. After that, well, feel free to hammer Harper with everything you can muster.


On one hand, you’re right in that the only reason the Opposition is crying foul over it is that, well, they’re the Opposition.

On the other, why should Parliament close up shop for no good reason? The Olympics being on is an absolutely ridiculous excuse and only a fool would believe it. I pay these lazy fucks to run the government. They can damn well stay in Ottawa and work. The Olympics thing is irrelevant; I have to go to work those two weeks, so the MPs can, too. Oh, you want to concentrate on us winning a gold medal. I’m glad you have all that free time. I’ll be working and paying taxes those two weeks. I expect civil servants to be doing what I’m paying them to do.

Furthermore, the continued delays and silence concerning the Afghan detainee issue is a travesty, and is in fact **the only reason **the government came up with this lame-ass proroguation. In fact, the issue is probably wildly overblown, but that’s not the point in Canada; the point in THIS country is that our government’s supposed to be accountable and open and to follow Parliamentary procedure. I don’t really care if Afghans are beating up other Afghans either, but I do care if our politicians are lying and breaking the law and not doing their jobs. It’s time the government did as they’re supposed to and release the evidence and face Opposition in the House. This is how our government is supposed to work, and how these people are supposed to be earning money.

Parliament has voted that the Colvin report must be released, and I want the report released because that’s the way this country’s supposed to work. the Olympics are of no importance next to that.

I think the problem is that Harper went back on his promise to only nominate senators who were first elected in some way. Of course he first did it last year, but now he doesn’t seem to even care about the promise anymore. What he’s doing isn’t anything different from what every other prime minister did in the past, but the people doesn’t like it when elected politicians renege on their promises.

This said, Harper’s promise was completely unrealistic in the first place. The only way to reform the Senate is by cooperating with the provinces and amending the constitution, and Harper knows he’s got nothing to gain by trying this. So he doesn’t even try and just makes vague, unrealistic promises.

In a democracy I’d argue that it’s a significant problem when Parliament can be shut down without Parliament’s approval.

To be fair, there are a few mandatory parliamentary votes every year, the budget for example. Each one of these is an occasion to defeat the government. So it’s not like the government could govern indefinitely without Parliament’s approval.

We are only talking about a 37 day break. Obviously it isn’t the only reason, but the less negative world wide publicity we get when we have the spot light of the world on us the better. We need to fill up the world’s limited attention with the great things about our country.

Parliament does not run the government. The government will still operate, providing all the federally mandated services as well as working to provide the groundwork for success in proposed bills and working to provide a decent budget for the following year.

I looked but cannot find where Parliament voted to release a Colvin Report.

Why does Colbert come to mind

This is not about Parliament’s ability to defeat the government. This is about Parliament’s ability to monitor the government. Parliamentary oversight of the government is a critical part of our democracy. And when the Prime Minister actively undermines Parliament’s ability to perform this vital role by, for example, ignoring legally binding subpoenas from Parliament, we have a significant problem.

I have no doubt that Harper doesn’t want his government to get negative attention at the occasion of the Olympics, but this doesn’t mean I or other Canadians agree.

Indeed, but if Parliament believes that the government is actively preventing them from performing their role, this is sufficient reason to defeat it. Our system gives very wide powers to the Prime Minister, more than you’d presumably like and maybe more than it should, but there is always a way to deal with an uncooperative government.

I don’t care what Belgians or Azerbaijanis think of our Parliamentary business.

Not the Parliament part.

Give me one good reason Parliament should be shut down for five weeks. “Because of the Olympics” is not a good reason.

The Canadian electorate has been quite clear over the past year that they will deal very harshly with an opposition party that forces an election. Defeating the Conservatives is simply not an option right now. I think that the past 2 or 3 years has illustrated that our current system has some pretty big flaws with how it deals with minority governments because the PM has too many powers.

Serious question - if not the PM (a democratically elected politician), then who should have those powers?

That’s not the point. I want every bit of time their news media discusses the Olympics devoted to what a great country we have, and that their viewers must visit us Canadians for we are a very friendly people and happy to share their money with us.

Especially here in B.C.

We can resume all the parliamentry hassles later .

Five weeks is not going to derail our cherished democracy. My government says it needs the 5 weeks , and our Commander in Chief is okay with it.

And if any accountability is required on the part of the government, I fully expect the opposition to do their duty once Parliament resumes.

Parliament. It should require a majority vote to prorogue Parliament, dissolve Parliament or declare a bill to be a matter of confidence.

Oh, please. Our Commander in Chief by Constitutional convention has no say in the matter at all.

Well it pretty well was a constitutional convention that prime ministers couldn’t just ask the GG to prorogue parliament without parliamentary approval.

The GG could very well have refused, and frankly I’d expect the surprise and uproar would have been relatively shortlived and no prime minister would ever ask again without making sure that the GG would approve.

Do you actually believe that having a working Parliament would even be noticed by the foreign press?

Tell me; did the Canadian press notice what was going on in Italy’s Parliament during the 2006 Games in Torino? Was there any notice given to the political issues of the day in Greek politics during the Athens games in 2004? Just what was going on in the Lower House in Canberra while the 2000 Games were on? You don’t know, and neither do I, because we didn’t care, just as people in Italy, Greece and Australia will not care what’s going on in our Parliament.

Foreign sports journalists covering the Olympics in Vancouver aren’t going to write about Parliament. Why on earth would they?

This is a ridiculous diversion. Parliament is absolutely NOT prorogued for the Olympics. It’s prorogued to try to put off the Afghanistan issue.

I get the sense from my Liberal-leaning friends on Facebook that I’m supposed to be terribly outraged… about… something… But what exactly?

The government is lazy and is taking a long paid vacation? Not news. Upthread, it was mentioned that there is work to be done and that they should be doing it. But seriously, as an average Canadian, how inconvenienced am I by this? How often do I find myself saying “I would love to X but the goddamned Parliament won’t Y!!”

The government is shutting down so it can avoid mud-slinging during the Olympics? Sure, why not? The question is, would the Liberals to it to the Conservatives if the shoe was on the other foot? I think the answer is that they would do it in a heartbeat. If your opponent can find himself a soapbox good for him. But why hand him one?

The government is trying to prevent a report from coming out that will implicate them in the shitty conditions at Afghan prisons? Wait a minute here. What facts on the ground are going to change in the next 37 days? Is our government going to send a squad of Canadian Ninjas (they exist you know, I saw them [barely] on Degrassi TNG) to wipe out all the evidence? Is there some reason why the investigation cannot continue while Parliament is not in session? What is to stop them from picking up where they left off when Parliament comes back? I know we just lost a reporter over there but are there no more journalists willing to pick this story up should even part of it appear to be true? Shutting down Parliament does not make the issue go away. It doesn’t make reporters go away. It doesn’t make facts go away.

As to the detainee issue in general, it smacks of Recreational Outrage. Our troops capture people for whatever reason. They turn these folks over the local authorities. The local authorities treat the detainees like shit. Welcome to Afghanistan!! Why is it a surprise to anyone that the jails over there are some of the worst in the world? You know how to not get tortured in jail in Afghanistan? Don’t get thrown in jail in Afghanistan! And if you do, don’t expect three squares a day, a soft pillow and a prayer mat while your lawyer works on appealing your detention. We’re applying first-world ethics to a place that is below third-world standards as if our opinion is worth a good goddamn. The Afghanis probably torture prisoners just to thumb their noses at us and say “this is how we do things here, you imperialist son of a dog.”

No it wasn’t.

And caused a constitutional crisis.

I think the US Senate could stand to take a long break from lawmaking.

It appears that we have two points of contention. The first being whether or not the prime ministerial request for prorogation a year ago represented a constitutional challenge by ignoring convention and the second being the very real power the GG has in responding to the prorogagation request.
From Wikipedia, 2008-2009 Parliamentary Dispute

To address the first point,

As to the second point regarding the GG power of refusal for prome ministerial requests.

Who cares? They’ve been ordered by Parliament to produce the documents, and are refusing to do so. It’s shitty politics, it’s cowardly, and it’s dishonest. It doesn’t matter if it’s recreational outrage (and for the most part, you’re right, it is) or not.

Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right. The Conservatives were elected by Canadians - myself being one of the Canadians who voted for them, so this is no partisan assault on my part - on a platform that included a promise of more government openness and transparency. This is precisely the opposite of what they promised, and it’s to the detriment of the country, however mild that detriment may be.