Suspended for 7 weeks. It’s hard to overstate how absurd this is, or how dangerous a precedent it sets.
There are 3 things the Prime Minister (and perhaps the Governor General) seem to have forgotten:
- The foundation of our democracy is that government is allowed to govern only so long as it enjoys the confidence of the majority of the House of Commons. This is the key to our entire democracy. If more than 50% of our 308 elected representatives lose confidence in the current government, it loses the right to govern.
Preventing the House of Commons from establishing its confidence – especially because you think you’re going to lose – is, simply, preventing democracy. It is an attack on our most central plank as a democratic state.
- Prorogation itself is a maintenance tool for parliament. When parliament has accomplished its goals for its current session (as laid out in the Throne Speech), it allows MPs to return home to their local constituents and spend time with folks in their local ridings.
It has now been turned into an instrument to allow a Prime Minister and his or her government to dodge the most fundamental of the checks and balances that exist on their power.
It’s hard to think of a scenario in which a Prime Minister could display more contempt for democracy than by shutting down parliament.
- We are still in the midst of the worst financial crisis seen in the lifetimes of anyone in government, and yet, parliament has been paralyzed for 7 weeks. It’s not okay in the best of times, but now it means parliament cannot even begin to address our economic issues until at least the end of January. Happy holidays, Canada.
So just to recap: our Governor General, herself an unelected representative of our hereditary monarch, has defied and silenced the majority of our democratically-elected Members of Parliament in order to preserve a now-illegitimate government. Exactly as Stephen Harper requested.
If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.
Addendum: What is this nonsense about “letting cooler heads prevail” in Ottawa? The suspension of an angry democracy is still the suspension of democracy. Acrimonious debate does not justify illegal prorogation.