The more I think about the prorogation decision, the less comfortable I am with it. Essentially, it can gut the central principle of Canada’s system of responsible government: that the government must have the support of a majority of the members of the House of Commons. The Conservatives are pointing out that they passed the last confidence vote, which was on the Throne Speech as justification for this, but that’s pretty flimsy. They lost the confidence of the House and they know it. Only messing around with the scheduling in Parliament saved them.
Like many Canadians, I was glued to the television to see what the governor general would decide in response to Stephen Harper’s request to prorogue Parliament. I have a lot of sympathy for the governor-general: the Prime Minister put in her a very difficult position with this request. I’d also like to give credit to the opposition leaders. Rather than attacking the governor general and needlesly politicizing her decision, they pointed the finger at Stephen Harper. That’s where the blame belongs, if there is any.
As I write this, Stephen Harper is currently meeting with Michaelle Jean and is reportedly requesting a prorogation of Parliament. I’ve been asked a lot what exactly this means and how it relates to the current situation in Ottawa. So, here’s a refresher course on prorogation.
Andrew Potter at Macleans.ca has a really good blog posting that’s worth reading. He’s been posting some interesting stuff on the crisis.
In case you missed it, both Harper and Dion took to national television to make their cases directly to the people. Neither really had much new to say. Here are my impressions of both speeches.
I think it’s safe to say that none of Canada’s four political parties in Canada are looking especially good right now: the partisan bickering and yelling, the political manouevering and scheming, the constitutional brinkmanship. There are lots of Conservatives upset with Stephen Harper, many Liberals disgusted with Stephane Dion, and even more Canadians just annoyed with everyone.