As fig leaves covering the real reasons Parliament was prorogued (the Afghan detainee issue and the composition of Senate committees), Stephen Harper and his Conservatives have advanced two myths or half truths regarding prorogation: that is a common procedure and that it is necessary for the government as it seeks to recalibrate its agenda.
While prorogation is common, occurring 105 times, as the Conservatives are fond of reminding us, since Confederation, it is highly uncommon to have such long prorogations This is important because it reveals that prorogation was often a matter of course, necessary, and that it was never used to suspend Parliament for extended periods of time. This is what the Conservatives have done, with 37 days of prorogation.
A look at the length of a Parliament (this is the duration between elections) and the proportion of that Parliament being spent in session bears this out. (Consult this website for parliament lengths and session lengths) With 354 of 416 days of this current Parliament spent in session, the percent of this Parliament spent in session is 86%.
Compare that with Harper's own previous Parliament. For some reason the percentage of the Parliament spent in session was 96%. Notice any discrepancy? The trend continues with further historical data. Previous Parliaments had rates of 100%, 92%, 98% and the list goes on.
So, for Harper to say that prorogation is common is right, but this obfuscates the fact that it has never previously been used to lock out MPS for any substantial portion of the duration of that Parliament.
As for the second myth, that the government needs prorogation to set their agenda for next year, that could not be further from the truth. Consider Harper's own previous Parliament. If that is the case, then why wasn't he proroguing so much, and locking out MPs for months at a time? Either Mr. Harper has to admit that he was previously incompetent in this matter or that he is twisting the truth. And as we know the first proposition is false, it must be the latter.
Shame on the Conservatives for such twisting of the truth. They deprive us of democracy and attempt to convince us that this has been commonplace, and that moreover it is necessary.
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