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  1. #1

    "Bitterness and venom in Ottawa" - National Post reviews Canadian Politics 2009

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2386930


    Just a quick run through the past 12 months' events offers a taste of how rancid federal politics have become. The coalition crisis was quickly followed by the economic crisis, during which the opposition mounted a furious effort to convince Canadians, against all evidence and common sense, that Mr. Harper's government was somehow to blame for a downturn that was sweeping the globe (and which Canada, in fact, weathered far better than most).

    That was followed by efforts to somehow link the government to the unappetizing spectacle of former prime minister Brian Mulroney defending himself against the ever-changing accusations of the diminutive German arms merchant Karlheinz Schreiber; which was followed in turn by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff insisting the government had betrayed the unemployed by failing to enrichen the employment insurance program, even though the Liberals had considered it perfectly satisfactory when they were running the show.

    We were treated to two efforts to force the resignation of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt (once over some private remarks she'd made to a press aide and once over fundraising activities in a previous job); accusations the Prime Minister had surreptitiously slipped a Communion wafer into his pocket; claims that the Tories had secretly manipulated Olympicwear designers into using a C (for Canada) that looked like the C (for Conservatives) on party literature; efforts to blame the government for a shortage of H1N1 vaccine that was being felt world-wide; allegations the Tories were trying to link Liberal MPs to anti-Semitism; and the year-ending hysteria over the Copenhagen climate change conference, which saw Canada, which produces less than 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, portrayed by overheated activists as an international pariah even though it has more aggressive reduction targets than China (which produces 21%) or the U.S. (which produces 20%).
    More at the link. 2009 certainly had its' share of memorable (and sometimes wish-we-could-forgetable) moments!

    KD
    Kevin C. Deck cd1
    Lt(N)
    RCSCC GRILSE canada bc
    Past CO - RCSCC MEDICINE HAT, RCSCC BICKNELL, RCSCC GRILSE

  2. #2
    All we can hope for are things improving in 2010. But if this prorogation of parliment is any indication it might be a long shot.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by colgate View Post
    All we can hope for are things improving in 2010. But if this prorogation of parliment is any indication it might be a long shot.
    It's been a tough year, but I hope that this prorogue will get everyone back to some serious work instead of politic-ing. I am losing track of who is riding who's coat tails.

  4. #4
    2009 the year that will live in stupidity.
    Captain J. Gleiberman cd1
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    Grand Poobah of the SAW
    Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by colgate View Post
    All we can hope for are things improving in 2010. But if this prorogation of parliment is any indication it might be a long shot.

    On the topic of prorogation:

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNew...b=TopStoriesV2


    Parliament has been prorogued 105 times in its history.

    "If you do the math that works out to about every one in 1.3 years," he said. "People understand this is parliamentary procedure."
    There are those who are trying to make it sound like this is such an uncommon thing, when it reality it is a common part of our parliamentary system.

    KD
    Kevin C. Deck cd1
    Lt(N)
    RCSCC GRILSE canada bc
    Past CO - RCSCC MEDICINE HAT, RCSCC BICKNELL, RCSCC GRILSE

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt(N) Deck View Post

    There are those who are trying to make it sound like this is such an uncommon thing, when it reality it is a common part of our parliamentary system.

    KD
    The impression I have been getting the last few days is not that it's being prorogued but the length of time that its being prorogued for, that's causing the stir.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by colgate View Post
    The impression I have been getting the last few days is not that it's being prorogued but the length of time that its being prorogued for, that's causing the stir.
    The government will be prorogued until after the Olympics. The Olympics are running from 12 Feb until 28 Feb. Parliament will then sit on 3 Mar.

    Hardly seems like a long break considering that many MPs and key government representatives will be AT the Olympics regardless. I am sure that all of the Vancouver/Whistler area MPs will be there. The PM will be there. Surely most ministers will be there. So if everyone is at the Olympics, who will be sitting in parliament? The Bloc?

    MPs were only scheduled to be back to work on 25 Jan. They would be at work for no more than 14 work days before taking another short break. IMHO, this proroguation is beneficial for everyone.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by rwgill View Post
    The government will be prorogued until after the Olympics. The Olympics are running from 12 Feb until 28 Feb. Parliament will then sit on 3 Mar.

    Hardly seems like a long break considering that many MPs and key government representatives will be AT the Olympics regardless. I am sure that all of the Vancouver/Whistler area MPs will be there. The PM will be there. Surely most ministers will be there. So if everyone is at the Olympics, who will be sitting in parliament? The Bloc?

    MPs were only scheduled to be back to work on 25 Jan. They would be at work for no more than 14 work days before taking another short break. IMHO, this proroguation is beneficial for everyone.
    Yes, but it also kills a number of bills in progress and shuts down the inquiry into detainee transfers. How conv-e-e-enient...

    Proroguing parliament isn't just a matter of delaying the resumption of business. It's not something to done lightly.

    The prorogation of parliament during the "Coalition Crisis" was a singular and highly contraversial event. Extending the Christmas break wouldn't kill bills and other parliamentary business in progress - prorogation does. It also hampers the inquiry into the Afghan detainee transfers. This has nothing to do with the Olympics or consulting with constituents about the economy - it's an abuse of power pure and simple.
    gliderwingsJ-P Johnson cd1
    Barrie Ontario
    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    Yes, but it also kills a number of bills in progress and shuts down the inquiry into detainee transfers. How conv-e-e-enient...
    I felt the same way until I watched, on TV, a NDP MP say that this was a way to hide the "Canadian Forces abuse of prisoners". I think it was Paul Dewar.............but don't quote me on that or perhaps I misunderstood.

    I think that everyone needs a time out and time to think. It's no different from us, at CW, giving a thread a time out and locking it up for a bit. If I am correct about Paul Dewar, he definately needs a time out and time to get his act together.

    It may seem like an abuse of power, but it is an event that can work in everyone's favour. It's time for the Conservatives to figure out their new stategy and time for the Liberals and NDP to reload their cannons.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    Yes, but it also kills a number of bills in progress
    The government can re-introduce those bills in the next session, so it is not like they are dead and buried forever.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    and shuts down the inquiry into detainee transfers. How conv-e-e-enient...
    There is no inquiry. There is simply a special Commons Committee: Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan


    Proroguing parliament isn't just a matter of delaying the resumption of business. It's not something to done lightly.

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/compendium/web...ycycle-e.htm#3

    Quote Originally Posted by The Compendium of The House of Commons
    Each session of a Parliament ends with the prorogation of Parliament by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    The prorogation of parliament during the "Coalition Crisis" was a singular and highly contraversial event. Extending the Christmas break wouldn't kill bills and other parliamentary business in progress - prorogation does.
    Sittings of The House are governed by a Calendar. That calendar is fixed each year, based on the Standing Orders of The House of Commons. In order to change the dates of breaks, a motion has to be made in the House, debated by the members, and passed. See:

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/ab...rs/chap8-e.htm


    Quote Originally Posted by Standing Orders of the House of Commons
    Debatable motions.


    67. (1) The following motions are debatable:

    (o) for the suspension of any Standing Order unless otherwise provided;

    So in order to extend the Christmas Break, that motion would have to have been put forth and passed in the House prior to the Christmas break. The House adjourned on Dec 10th this year. Since that was not done, to extend the break now would require a special recall to bring MP's back to pass a motion to extend their break, and then send them back home.


    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    It also hampers the inquiry into the Afghan detainee transfers. This has nothing to do with the Olympics or consulting with constituents about the economy - it's an abuse of power pure and simple.
    Again, it's not an inquiry. It may have to to do with stalling that committee, or as some commentators have noted, it may have to do with essentially daring the Opposition to try to trigger a spring election after the House resumes sitting. Or as has been pointed out by many, the PM will be appointing 5 new Senators during this break. This will give them a one seat majority in the Senate, and allow them to have the majority on Senate Committees, and thus move their political agenda through more quickly without the opposition stonewalling them in the Upper Chamber.

    Nonetheless, the powers are clearly spelled out in the Constitution, Standing Orders of the House, and other documents, and have been used in such a fashion many times before in our history. Former PM Chretien prorogued once to quiet down the infighting of the growing Paul Martin rebellion. He did so again to slow down the Gomery inquiry. And when Paul Martin was set to win the Liberal leadership convention, Chretien prorogued just prior to the convention, so that he would not have to return to sit in the House with Martin as PM. Some people also speculate that he did that as well to stall every bill in progress so that Martin could not claim credit for them when they passed, he would have to "reboot" everything, and would not have enough time to get much done before having to call an election to satisfy the public's demand for a PM to be duly elected while leading their party. Proroguing the House there could be seen as Chretien's final strike back at Martin for forcing him out.

    Anyway, the reality is that as long as we keep voting in minority governments, we will likely continue to see prorogation timed to assist the government in its agenda.

    KD
    Last edited by Lt(N) Deck; 3rd January 2010 at 08:38. Reason: typo
    Kevin C. Deck cd1
    Lt(N)
    RCSCC GRILSE canada bc
    Past CO - RCSCC MEDICINE HAT, RCSCC BICKNELL, RCSCC GRILSE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Lt(N) Deck View Post
    The government can re-introduce those bills in the next session, so it is not like they are dead and buried forever.
    That's sounds great in theory but there is no guarantee that what was agreed to before will be agreed to again. Also, starting from square one adds all the steps back into the process.

    There is no inquiry. There is simply a special Commons Committee: Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan
    Inquiry or committee both would be disbanded through prorogation.
    Sittings of The House are governed by a Calendar. That calendar is fixed each year, based on the Standing Orders of The House of Commons. In order to change the dates of breaks, a motion has to be made in the House, debated by the members, and passed. See:

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/ab...rs/chap8-e.htm





    So in order to extend the Christmas Break, that motion would have to have been put forth and passed in the House prior to the Christmas break. The House adjourned on Dec 10th this year. Since that was not done, to extend the break now would require a special recall to bring MP's back to pass a motion to extend their break, and then send them back home.
    It's not like the Olympics is something that was suddenly sprung on anyone. There was PLENTY of time to go through the process.
    Again, it's not an inquiry. It may have to to do with stalling that committee, or as some commentators have noted, it may have to do with essentially daring the Opposition to try to trigger a spring election after the House resumes sitting. Or as has been pointed out by many, the PM will be appointing 5 new Senators during this break. This will give them a one seat majority in the Senate, and allow them to have the majority on Senate Committees, and thus move their political agenda through more quickly without the opposition stonewalling them in the Upper Chamber.

    Nonetheless, the powers are clearly spelled out in the Constitution, Standing Orders of the House, and other documents, and have been used in such a fashion many times before in our history. Former PM Chretien prorogued once to quiet down the infighting of the growing Paul Martin rebellion. He did so again to slow down the Gomery inquiry. And when Paul Martin was set to win the Liberal leadership convention, Chretien prorogued just prior to the convention, so that he would not have to return to sit in the House with Martin as PM. Some people also speculate that he did that as well to stall every bill in progress so that Martin could not claim credit for them when they passed, he would have to "reboot" everything, and would not have enough time to get much done before having to call an election to satisfy the public's demand for a PM to be duly elected while leading their party. Proroguing the House there could be seen as Chretien's final strike back at Martin for forcing him out.
    So two wrongs make...?
    Anyway, the reality is that as long as we keep voting in minority governments, we will likely continue to see prorogation timed to assist the government in its agenda.
    KD
    Very interesting take on this I saw in a CP article this morning:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/1...iament_suspend

    Annual proroguing idea would erode Parliament: experts
    Sun Jan 3, 3:46 PM

    By Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press

    OTTAWA - The role of elected representatives will erode further if the federal government makes good on its suggestion to make prorogation an annual event, experts say.

    "It's not easy to see how this can work," says David Mitchell, president of the Ottawa-based Public Policy Forum. "It raises the question: Why do we have a Parliament?"

    When Prime Minister Stephen Harper suspended parliamentary activity last week until early March, his spokesman called the move "routine," noting it has occurred 104 times previously.

    The announcement was immediately denounced by opposition parties, who accused the Conservatives of undermining democracy and fleeing accountability, especially when it comes to Canada's treatment of Afghan detainees.

    Still, there's word the Tories may go further to ensure prorogation becomes routine.

    Government sources say they are contemplating formally shutting down Parliament at the end of every year, so the government can start afresh with a throne speech and a budget.

    That way, the argument goes, the public will have a clear idea what the government plans to achieve for the coming year.

    But the trouble with frequent proroguing is that it disrupts parliamentary activity. Committees are disbanded. Legislation moving through Parliament is killed. And the work that MPs were elected to do in Ottawa is not being performed.

    The government's decision to prorogue, for example, effectively undoes all the work MPs have carried out in the last year on a huge package of proposed legislation designed to get tough on crime.

    The government's use of prorogation shows it believes Parliament has become an "inconvenience" that needs to be managed, rather than an essential part of the democratic process, says Mitchell.

    "For those Canadians who care about parliamentary democracy and about the vitality of our democracy, and who believe in the openness and transparency of government, they should be concerned about this," Mitchell said.

    "Because if this becomes a regular occurrence, where Parliament is prorogued at the will and convenience of the government of the day, whoever that government is, then it really raises questions about the utility and the relevance of Parliament itself," he continued.

    "And that's troubling for anyone who cares about it."

    An annual proroguing would also raise issues of efficiency, Mitchell added. Since legislation has to start again from scratch at the beginning of each session, the legislative process would no doubt slow down.

    The relevance of Parliament began to erode decades ago, with a change in election expenses legislation in 1974, says political scientist Nelson Wiseman from the University of Toronto. The change allowed political parties to put their names on ballots next to their candidates.

    Since Elections Canada didn't want to get into the business of deciding who the legitimate candidates for each party were, it handed that decision to party leaders - inadvertently empowering the leaders to the detriment of individual MPs, Wiseman said.

    The last decade has seen a further swing of power toward the executive office and away from the legislators, Wiseman said.
    He points to the Ontario government's decision under Ernie Eves to table the 2003 budget at the headquarters of auto parts maker Magna International.
    The Conservative government has taken to presenting stimulus updates farther and farther from the House of Commons - first in Cambridge, Ont., then in Saint John, N.B., and most recently, in China.
    A decade ago, these would have prompted criticism that the government was thumbing its nose at parliamentarians, Wiseman said, but no longer.
    Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament is more evidence that the Prime Minister's Office definitely has the upper hand in the tension between the government and legislators.
    "It seems to me, they control the calendar. If things get messy, they prorogue," Wiseman said.
    But he doesn't expect much of a public backlash from the move. The public does not seem to get worked up about the erosion of Parliamentary power, he said.
    His feeling is echoed privately by Tory MPs, and by a poll showing that 46 per cent of Canadians just don't care whether Parliament starts sitting in January or takes a break and comes back after the Olympics in March.
    "There's a high level of indifference," said pollster Doug Anderson with Harris Decima.
    gliderwingsJ-P Johnson cd1
    Barrie Ontario
    The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by J-P Johnson View Post
    That's sounds great in theory but there is no guarantee that what was agreed to before will be agreed to again. Also, starting from square one adds all the steps back into the process.
    True, and actually that may be part of the Conservative's motives. Two of their key pieces of legislation have been stalled by the Opposition parties, and modified a lot in the Senate. They plan to re-introduce those bills in original form in the next session, by which time they will control the majority in the Senate and can better preserve the legislation as they intended it. See: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/200...on-harper.html

    Quote Originally Posted by CBC
    Shortly after Soudas' announcement, the government sent out an email saying it would reintroduce, in original form, the consumer safety bill and the anti-drug-crime law that the Tories claimed the Liberals "gutted" in the Senate.
    They may have to re-do some of the steps, but they will better control those steps and get their bills passed closer to the form they want them, especially if they make the Commons votes on those bills confidence votes. Is the Liberal party going to defeat the government on a consumer safety bill or a bill that tightens up drug laws? Probably not, and if they did the Conservative campaign strategy pretty much writes itself.


    Inquiry or committee both would be disbanded through prorogation.
    Actually, the Opposition has been calling for an independent inquiry. If it is independent form the House, it would not be shut down by prorogation of the House. The Gomery Inquiry was commissioned under former PM Martin, and continued through 2 elections. Martin dissolved Parliament for an election to have a mandate from the people, and returned with a minority. His government fell to a vote of non-confidence, Parliament dissolved again, and PM Harper's government was elected. The Gomery Inquiry's report was released with PM Harper in office.


    It's not like the Olympics is something that was suddenly sprung on anyone. There was PLENTY of time to go through the process.
    Yes, there was. Either the Government or the Opposition could have tabled a motion to extend the Christmas break. Neither did. The Opposition parties could have joined forces, introduced a motion for revision of the calendar, and carried the vote to adjust the schedule whether the Government agreed or not. Had they done so, they could have taken away any reason the Government might give for wanting to prorogue. Since they did not do so, we can assume that they did not expect that the PM would ask for prorogation, so did not prepare for it in time to negate the option. Seeing how prorogation is a common parliamentary procedure, and seeing how it can and has been used to the government's advantage several times throughout history, it would appear that the Opposition was outplayed by the Government, which would explain part of the hue and cry over the move.



    So two wrongs make...?
    I never said that Mr. Chretien's use of the maneuver while PM was wrong. It's part of our parliamentary system, one that many Canadians don't seem to understand, based on my reading of various comments and letters on different media sites. People may or may not like it based on whether they like or dislike the party in power. But for those who say it is "undemocratic", they are incorrect. Prorogation is a part of our system of parliamentary democracy, just like the ability to have a vote of non-confidence in a minority. If the Opposition feels so strongly that this was undemocratic and an affront to the Canadian people, they can hold a vote of non-confidence when the House resumes, and see if the Canadian people agree with them strongly enough to elect them instead. But I strongly suspect the Liberals won't try to bring down the government over this, or anything else, in the near future. The Liberals polling numbers are down, confidence in their Leader is not strong, and they probably won't want to risk an election that they know they won't win. They're stuck with doing what Opposition parties do: make a big deal out of everything, and hope that they can stir up enough outrage amongst their loyal followers to generate donations to their election war-chest. And the Liberals need as much as they can get, they are still paying off the last couple of elections, making it less likely that they will trigger a non-confidence vote.

    As I said, people may not like things like prorogation, but they are legal parts of our democracy, and in a minority, the party in power is free to use those tools at their disposal to act as they see fit to advance their agenda, which in this case means taking control of the Senate and reintroducing key pieces of legislation that they promised to the people who gave them more votes than any other party. Keeping those election promises looks good to their voters, and strengthens their re-election chances. No wonder the Liberals are so upset. They have been counting on the Senate to keep the Conservatives from making good on election promises, because they can't help but support legislation in the House or risk an election that they are sorely prepared for. Now they'll likely lose the Senate as a stalling tool as well, and there is nothing they can do about it.

    KD
    Kevin C. Deck cd1
    Lt(N)
    RCSCC GRILSE canada bc
    Past CO - RCSCC MEDICINE HAT, RCSCC BICKNELL, RCSCC GRILSE

  13. #13
    I do not support a political party specifically, I will not comment on either opposition/government action specifically, and what I can say about this topic is that prorogation of Parliament is a bitter issue for Canadians. What I've heard from family, friends, etc. is that it's frustrating and unacceptable in such a time. All parties should take note of this event; as an opportunity.

    The GG should also take this event as an opportunity to keep herself pertinent. The prorogation is too long. I'm not the GG and I have no credentials to make calls on what can be judged constitutionnally acceptable but I would ask myself serious questions if I was the GG: how can I relate to Canadians in times like these? What is acceptable and what is not?

    From a political party in PM Harper's situation, this would be very logical. Hence why he is moving forward with it: by the time the economy will kick itself up and the inquiry on Afghanistan will be somewhere, the Canadians will only remember how frustrated they were early this year because the MP's would get a break while they worked or tried finding a job. They will forget the major negative aspects of end of 2009. Easy. Mr Ignatieff will still be heading (not leading) the Liberals and if they are indeed going in an electoral campaign, they won't be ready. The party that seems ready for an electoral campaign now are the Conservatives. It appears they haven't done that badly on the political chessboard.

    F.R. Bosse, BA(Hons.), G.Dip, rmc

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