Thursday, January 21, 2010

Take Away Harper's Right to Prorogue

Technically, of course, it is not within the Prime Minister's purview to prorogue Parliament, as he is required by law to make this request to the Governor General. The Governor General could refuse, but, as with all monarchical powers, usually does not exert her right to deny Prime Ministers' requests. Effectively then, the Prime Minister now wields power he was not intended to have. We have seen the abuses, thanks to Stephen Harper, that can occur when this power is granted to a Prime Minister. Therefore, it seems only sensible that this power should be taken away from the Prime Minister, and given to those who would stop such an abuse of power.

Jack Layton has proposed to give this power to the MPs in the House of Commons. Only if a majority of MPs were to agree to the suspension of Parliament would Parliament be prorogued. The intent is obviously to prevent Prime Ministers from succumbing to their undemocratic and partisan tendencies.

This is proposal is well-founded and is the right approach to take, but it is nevertheless not perfect. Due to the stringent, and some say excessive, party discipline in our parliamentary system, such a proposal does not negate the possibility of an abusive prorogation if the government in power has a majority. In that case, all that the government would have to do is to whip the vote, and it would obtain the prorogation it desires.

Hence, it is necessary to curb as much as possible the potential for party discipline to essentially reprovide the Prime Minister with his power to prorogue. One necessary measure would be to ensure that votes on whether or not to prorogue would not be allowed to be confidence votes.

The ideal would be to give the power to prorogue to an impartial observer, in theory the Governor General. But the Governor General is hampered by constitutional convention, and would potentially face outrage if she were to use her power to deny prorogation. With certain provisions however, it seems a vote of MPs is the closest we'll get to this ideal.
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  1. I wonder if people in Iran were holding candlelight vigils for the suffering souls in Canada...

  2. Where were all the displays of outrage when Bob Rae proroged parliment, Funny only when the Conseravtive do it is it bad

  3. I wonder if people in Iran were holding candlelight vigils for the suffering souls in Canada...

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