2008/12/02

Proroguing Parliament: To be or not to be

The chattering classes are atwitter with the idea that all Harper has to do is ask the GG to prorogue Parliament until January and his bacon will be saved. As an example, Ian MacDonald writes in the National Post:
"All Harper has to do is prorogue the House. In the Westminster tradition, managing the government’s agenda and timetable is the exclusive preserve of the prime minister. No governor-general has ever refused to sign an order-in-council to prorogue the House and bring it back with a new Throne Speech.
And there is a recent precedent for such a short session after an election. In 1988, after the free trade election, Brian Mulroney brought the House back in December with a Throne Speech accompanied by implementing legislation. The Throne Speech and bill were passed in 10 days and the session prorogued.
Harper has already caved on the party financing and public union issues. He has nothing to lose by resetting the clock."


Mr. MacDonald ,a former speechwriter for the Conservatives, has one fundamental factor wrong.In the example he cited, the PM met the House and got a vote of confidence so this is a spurious example of proroguing after a short session.

The essence of the matter is this: The GG appointed Mr. Harper because his party had the largest number of seats in the House. But Mr. Harper clearly does not enjoy the confidence of the House and the GG will be aware of that due to communications to her from the other party leaders. Unless he can win a confidence vote in the House Mr. Harper's credentials as PM are defunct.

To prorogue under these circumstances would be unique in Canadian history.

What MacDonald and others are forgetting is that we do not have a Presidential system. We elect a Parliament, not a Prime Minister. So, unless he can win a confidence vote, Mr. Harper has no prerogative to govern as PM or ask the GG to terminate this session before he has survived a confidence test.

Will the GG have the guts to call Harper on his bluff? Stay tuned.

2 comments:

Henry said...

WE may be saying goodbye to Canada as we know it.The west will be alienated as never before. The West is still Canada and they pay the bills.You sound as if you are intoxicated with the excitement of a coup.The hangover will follow.

Anonymous said...

Harper did win a vote of confidence when the Throne Speech passed. Thus the GG has to listen to him as someone who commanded the confidence of the House. If he asks her to prorogue Parliament, she has no legitimate basis to refuse. If he asks her to dissolve Parliament, the same holds true.