Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Need to Prorogue the Canadian Parliament

Recently the Governor General of Canada has prorogued the Canadian Parliament. The House of Commons, leading up to the end of November, was in chaos. The opposition parties, the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, were threatening to pass a vote of non-confidence against the minority government, the Conservatives. The Opposition parties brought forth a plan where, following the defeat of the government, a governing coalition made up of all the oppisition parties under a signed off on contract.

The Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, had a couple of options to choose from when Prime Minister Steven Harper came knocking on the Friday before the Monday non-confidance vote. The Prime Minister wanted the Governor General to either prorogue Parliament (i.e. end the current Parliamentry session) and start a new session at the end of January or, if the Governor General refused, to call a National General Election at the earliest convenience. Of course, the opposition parties requested a meeting with the Governor General as well, this meeting was rejected by her excellency.

The Govenor General choose the option to prorogue Parliament. The need to prorogue Parliament was obvious, the House of Commons had decended into chaos and wouldn't last longer than a week before a change in government would be required. This could either be done through inviting the Liberals to form a coalition government or calling another general election.

The coalition government option didn't sit well as the liklihood of a coalition government lasting one to two years appear slim. This was because that considering after the October 2008 general election all parties promised to work together coperatively, but less than a month later, political chaos erupted. So the Governor General probably believed that the coalition parties might split over some issue and poltical crisis would ensue yet again.

The general election option was panned by the Governor General as well for the simple fact that less than two months earlier a National General Election had been held with the election of the minority Conservative government. To make matters worst the 2008 General election had one of the worst percentages of voter turnout in Canadian history.

This left Michaëlle Jean with only one option and a needed plan of further options of the first option failed. The plan was to prorogue Parliament until the end of January. This would allow the opposition parties and the government time to put their differences aside and hopefully negotiate a federal budget and a set of priorities for 2009.

So far this option hasn't been going so well. The Liberals have dumped Stephan Dion and, since everyone including the church mouse has dropped out, acclaimed Michael Ignatieff as party leader. Ignatieff has been doggedly stayed partisan while arguing that the Conservatives are no good dirty devils. The Conservatives, meanwhile, have invited the opposition parties to bring forth ideas for a federal budget for the end of January. The Liberals, on the other hand, claim that it is up to the Conservatives to bring forth possible ideas for the budget and that "the ball is in their court." Meanwhile, the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP have been pretty quiet since the House of Commons has been prorogued. Hopefully in the coming weeks all Parlimentarians will catch the holiday spirit and remember their promise after the fall 2008 election to work together. Then, hopefully, the Members of Parliament will agree negotiate a federal budget and other priorities in the new year. However, even on the slim chance negotiations will work, there probably will be disagreement and partisan bickering erupting sooner rather than later. But at least the Governor General can be seen as attempting to give Parliamentarians a chance to come together to reconcile the existing Parliament.

If things don't go well after the prorogation period or if after a negotiated settlement has been achieved, a vote of non-confidence is likely. This would then allow the coalition of the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois a chance to form the government. The time period caused by the above would also allow the coalition to show the Governor General that the coalition has been able to stay together for a decent time period, make plans for a new parliamentry session and form a cohesive governing group. However, as recent Canadian political history will note, the Liberals, NDP and the Conservatives can never seem to agree for any long periods of time. If the coalition falls a part the last option is only possible.

Finally, after the Conservative government and the coalition government have failed, there is only a general election possible. The Governor General will be seen to have excercised every available option to her. Also, this will show Canadians that their local member of parliament failed to live up to their promise of working together with other members of parliament to make Canadian parliament work for all Canadians. If Members of Parliament have failed to come together after the above has been undertaken, then they have proven that they cannot even govern a banana republic nevermind been a member of a democratically elected government.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael,
    This is completely unrelated to your blog. I just had no other way of contacting you.

    I work for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, and I'm putting together a brochure/trail map for Sheppard's Bush Conservation Area. I came across some great pictures you took of Sheppard's Bush that you posted on Picasa. Can I have your permission to use them in the brochure/trail map? Please email me to discuss.


    Jonathan MacMull
    Community Marketing Specialist
    Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority


Popular Posts