Prorogue?

I’m at the Parliamentary Press Gallery dinner right now and a quiet rumour among a small number of the gathered people here is that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may prorogue Parliament until the new year.

This would provide some breathing room for the government and let Canadians consider a Bloc-supported NDP-Liberal coalition while they eat their Christmas dinners and/or get together for their holiday parties.

The opposition will cry foul, but it’s within the Prime Minister’s power. The effect on Ottawa would be to pour some cold water on the heated political atmosphere on the Hill.

However, I should say, the optics of it wouldn’t be ideal to say the least. What do you think the risk/reward potential of this move would be?

UPDATE: 45 minutes later, the rumour has made it to the podium and was just announced to a surprised room. Should be an interesting evening. I also hear that the PM may make a surprise appearance.

Comments

comments

  • gimbol

    I won’t comment on what is or isn’t according to parliamentary rules (re: coalition, prorogue) but I will say this.

    The opposition wants to bring down this government why? Because initially Harper was going to take away their allowance, now its because the government won’t spend its way out of an economic downturn. The last government that did that was Bob Rae’s NDP government in Ontario…..I can still remember that the only thing it was successful at doing was create the winning conditions for Mike Harris.
    But I digress.
    To hobble together this two year coalition, the liberals propose to hand over cabinet posts to the NDP members including economic portfolios…..this means the next budget will be written by Jack Layton….or else Jack will scuttle this coalition real quick.
    However, its not just the NDP that Dion will depend on to retain the government side of the house…..he needs the Bloc support as well. The irony should not be lost that the man that claims to have fought separatists, and was the author of the clarity act, now wants to make a deal with the same bunch to gain power. The irony is made even more galling by the how…..wait for it…..they will dismantle official bi-lingualism in Quebec, and in a manner not yet formalized, funnel tax dollars into Quebec ridings….(perhaps they intend to use ad contracts?)
    The later part gave me a sense of deja vu…as you can no doubt conclude, but the first came as a complete shock….why?….because the party of Trudeau, the party of the just society, THE PARTY OF OFFICIAL BI-LINGUALISM, now wants to gain power by bribing separatists and destroying something they have accused conservatives of secretly wanting to do for so many years….I am of course refering to the sinister “secret agenda”.
    So lets look past the outcome of this coalition getting its wish and to that moment immediately after when they now (potentially) have become government…..now what?
    My point is that whoever thought of this coalition idea, didn’t consider the consequences.
    If successful the possible outcomes are as follows:
    1- The liberals can no longer claim to be the party of national unity or any pretense of fiscal responsibility
    2- The separatists will have their winning conditions
    3- A dynamic will be created of a public will to have specific constitutional changes, not a Meech or Charlottetown style, but specific changes dealing with the way Parliament operates ie: the senate and head of state
    4- Lastly, I expect this “coalition” to last only long enough to hold its first caucus meeting, after which the GG will either call on Harper to return to government, or call an election where he can point to the leaderless opposition and count off the three previous reasons why the conservatives deserve a majority.

    I’ve come to one conclusion as to the why of all this….its about liberal legacy politics….if Dion doesn’t get to sit as PM even temporaryily, the liberal party legacy of every leader becoming PM will be broken. As well as that, their unwritten rule of alternation will be the elepahnt in the room as the francophone members will dispute that its not the leadership that alternates but that liberal PM’s should alternate between francophone and anglophone….they want their Quebec PM…damn the ROC.
    I know it sounds a bit tinfoil hat, but I can’t think of a logical and reasonable theory why (other than just thirst for power) the opposition is thinking so short term?

    Thats my subjective opinion anyways.

    As for the prorogue or not prorogue. It can’t make it any worse…fact is…if it pushes the house into the new year…after Obama get sworn in…it may actually help….sorry still work out the nuances on that one so I’ll came back to comment when I do.

  • bert

    I think PM Harper has an easy out of this one and is hiding it. Besides
    never being done before,this coalition can just be ignored if they win a
    non confidence.Paul Martin ignored a non confidence motion just before
    the Cadman affair and he just ignored it.Whats good for the Libs is good
    for the Conservatives.And besides who in hell is gonna remove 143
    elected MP,s??The Army?The Rcmp?Who would do it if the Conservatives
    refused to give power to the coup.

  • Terry

    Why Liz J, I'm really surprised at your Reaction to Reid's commentary…..that's Tory talk and you should love it. Harper tries to shove it down our throats and you seem to like that approach when its a con doing it.

  • Terry

    In my view Harper has not only disgraced himself but the whole party and he should step down and name an interim PM until a leadership campaign is called.

  • Terry

    Have you ever thought that maybe bringing the separatists into government would destroy their credentials as such. I think the bloc is on the verge of a breakup. Iggy is very popular among Francophone quebeckers and could bring them onside.

  • Standing-Up at last

    I believe the Opposition is tired, like the rest of Canada, of Harpers “it’s my way or the highway “attitude. They dropped the gauntlet, standing tall telling Harper to either govern for all Canadians in an adult way or ……
    I believe the school yard bully is scared…..

  • MW

    Ah yes. It's undemocratic for the parties who received 60% of the vote to try to form a government, but its completely reasonable for the party who received less than 40% to stifle the will of the House. We sure are seeing the true colours of this government lately.

  • Calgary Junkie

    The Throne Speech was passed by Parliament on Friday ! So why prorogue, just to introduce a new throne speech, that doesn’t make sense. Harper and Flaherty are meeting the Opps more than half way.
    Just carry on, Harper has his stronger mandate from the voters, he is interepreting that mandate about right.

  • Josef

    It seems to me as if Canadians would be better off w/ a snap election.

  • http://www.christianconservative.ca Christian Conservative

    I’ve been thinking the same thing for the last few days too… PROROGUE… reopen with a new throne speech with a Budget.

  • KingstonConservative

    Harper pulls a Chretien. Why am I not surprised?

    What did we vote for? Where is the principle????? Where is the courage of his convictions???

    Cutting and running…

  • Brian

    I think , rather than proroguing Parliament , a much better idea and one which would probably resonate with voters would be to hold a referendum on party funding with a simple question :

    Taxpayer funding of political parties :
    YES ___
    NO ___

  • Anthony

    Yawn.

    So some people can't handle playing with others because they don't have the goods to back up their b.s.? Put a few dirty needles in the playground and then they close it down.

    Yawn.

  • ken

    Hi,

    I know this blog is supposed to be a Conservative love-in here so I'll just make my point and butt out.

    I didn't support the Cons this election, but I was prepared to trust that Harper would be smart and pragmatic enough to do the right things to guide Canada through this recession in next year or two. Instead, we got this complete partisan brinkmanship, as if there was nothing in the world more important in the world than tweaking the opposition and juicing some tired, discredited Conservative fantasies like union busting and business tax cuts.

    Our economy is indeed on sound footings compared to the rest of the world, but the Conservative assertion that this is somehow magically due to just the last 3 years of government is of course indefensible.

    Everybody knows how avidly Canadians have followed and approved of the election of Mr Obama in the US. Our appetite for genuine change in Canada is strong too, possibly strong enough to see past the FUD that the conservatives will lay down in the next week. Six months or a year of a functioning coalition government might be a breath of fresh air. Personally, I'm in favour of anything, even some recession-inspired deficit spending, if we finally start up on some neglected infrastructure spending, particularly in transit and transportation. As an upper-middle class professional, the last thing I need is a tax cut. Really. I'd rather see my country function better.

    Mr Harper can save this government in the next week, if he truly cares to. here's how:
    1) Find some way to back down. Come as close as you possibly can to apologizing.
    2) Acknowledge the seriousness of our situation, how important that partisanship is dropped and that all parties work together to get through the next year
    3) muzzle the Harris era hacks that are currently so prominent in your cabinet. They screwed Ontario in their time, and Ontario is now the most vulnerable in this recession. We haven't and we won't forget that.
    4) Hold your nose and actually run an open cooperative government. Save the ideological projects for when/if you get a majority.

    I won't wish Harper good luck, because the next week is entirely up to him, and his actions. No luck involved. I wish him wisdom and patience, and a touch of humility.

  • Terry

    Alberta girl…take off your anti liberal blinders and look full in at what Harper has done. He has crippled himself and his goivernment with his nasty tactics. His bluff has been called and lets see how he deals with it. He should resign.

  • http://www.genx40.com Alan

    More like letting Canadians consider a Government that can't face Parliament while they eat their Christmas dinners and/or get together for their holiday parties. I suppose, though, this is just more of Harper the Master Strategist….had it all planned.

    Alan

  • KABOOMER

    PROROGUE OR NOT?
    THE P.M OFFICE HAS THE REACTION FROM PARTY #2 AND PARTY #4 WITH PARTY #3 IN THE MAYBE
    STATUS.
    THE DILLETANTES FROM THE P.P GALLERY FOLLOWED TRIUMPHANTLY,”IT'S ALL THE FAULT OF THE
    P.M.” THE C.B.C. WERE GLEEFUL, THE C.T.V WAS OUT WITH “YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST” AND
    GLOBAL HAS TO CLEAR IT THROUGH CHANNELS.
    WE ARE ON THE EVE OF SOMETHING…….. WHY NOT TAKE A BREAK, SET RECALL FOR FEBRUARY
    ENJOY THE HOLIDAY SEASON ALL.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor
  • barb

    Harper must go…..Bush's lap dog is done…a lib-NDP coolition is on the way…..Harper blinked and the opposition smelled is fear…bye…bye

  • barb

    Do you believe everything Fox North says…take everything CTV says with a grain of salt….remember their pro-conservative preferred press pundits for Harper.

  • http://www.wernerpatels.com Werner Patels

    What all this proves, including many of the comments seen here, is that we should call it quits and ask Washington to take us in, so that we too can call Obama our president for the next 8 years.

    Canada is a dysfunctional non-country, a fiction, that should have never been allowed to go ahead in the first place. Both politicians and voters regularly prove that they are not mature adults, but children who need to be taken by the hand and guided through even the simplest tasks in life.

    I am proud to say that I am an Albertan; I stopped referring to myself as a Canadian a long time ago, and I would not mind calling myself American in the near future.

  • Bob

    Excellent point Wilson. The power corp. boys are salivating.

  • gar

    The Canadian people will play this out in favor of the Conservatives. Dion and Layton have now over played their hand. they want to take over running the country without presenting any platform to the voters. These two parties will look like fools because unlike any other parliament they have to have the Bloc vote for any business brought forward.The Bloc will be in the drivers seat to extend their separation agenda. Rae sounds like an idiot who only wants to win under any circumstance even destroying Canada. this is the time for some of the Liberal backbenchers see the peril in all these and demand a stop by threatening to walk across the floor.Anyone who stays in a coalition made up of Bloc support in my mind wants to destroy the country. Only the voter can decide so get mad as hell and start making noise before Dec 8 or our dollar may disappear off the market charts

  • xpdoug

    I think Alberta girl nailed it.
    Saturday evening (last night) a VERY staunch Liberal/Harper Hater and her husband (one of my best friends) came to my home for dinner. I asked her how she felt about the latest shenannigans in the House and she went ballistic. She said she didn’t vote for Harper but thinks “those A$$holes” in opposition should at least give him a chance to govern, and they should stop behaving like fools ready to plunge the country into another expensive election nobody wants, especially right before Christmas. So there you go, Liberals. In spite of all the Liberal nut jobs who post here, there are probably a whole lot of liberals out there who are appalled by the goings on.
    As I am a Conservative you can guess how I feel about it. :) Merry Christmas everyone!

  • David

    I say: Invite Alaska to join Canada, give them enough seats to add to Harper's present position [He'll likely also pick up Vancouver South] and THEN go for an election. Also guarantee a position for Sarah Palin, and connect the Alaskan oilfields to the Alberta pipelines. Imagine the possibilities. Plan “B”: Cascadia with Alaska.

  • http://bcinto.blogspot.com BCer in Toronto

    Poroguing a week after the return of parliament? Coming back in January with another speech from the throne? Do you have any idea how ridiculous that would look? How weak? That would be an admission that Stephen Harper has lost the confidence of the house, and is too scared to have it confirmed.

    Delaying opposition days is one thing, although we both recall what the Conservatives said when Martin did it. They cried democracy was being murdered. But poroguing? Sure, it's allowed under constitution. But that doesn't make it right. Care to tell me how Harper would have reacted had Martin porogued to avoid going down over adscam? I think we both know the answer.

    By the way, what is this now, Harper master plan number three? I thought the opposition was playing into his hands by taking him down and having to govern in a shitty economy? I guess I missed the latest Harper master plan memo.

    Enjoy the dinner. I do so miss Harper's John McCallum impressions.

  • Scott

    He's just still hurting about screwing the Liberals two elections ago with the beer and popcorn comments.

    However, I think he does reflect the mood, and he's right, this is the only chance to get rid of Harper. Postponing parliament may be the only way to survive.

  • dougie

    So go…

  • Bridget

    Within the PMs power does not = good governance – it is trying to buy the Tories time to create some mud slinging radio and tv ads. Prime Minister Harper has no real option other than to face Parliament. This is not a dictatorship.

  • http://www.wernerpatels.com Werner Patels

    I am not leaving; I am hoping that Canada will be swallowed up by the U.S. one day — the only way to ever move this “country” ahead.

  • hishighness

    I expect Harper to do whatever is necessary to cling to power. Hell he already had one of his minions tape the NDP's conference call.

    Oh if only it wasn't for the Gomery witch hunt we could have wiped Conservatism out in Canada. What a great day that would have been, it'll still happen of course, Conservatism is of course fundamentally flawed, but it'll just take longer and more good people will have to suffer the consequences of their idiocy.

  • http://www.toronto.hm Peter Fokes

    Prorogue? Prorogue will not help retain power. Just offer time for the economy to worsen and Canadians to become more frustrated with Conservative partisanship. Remember +60% did not vote for the Conservatives.

    Since Parliament has only been in session a few days, when it does resume in January and a non-confidence motion is passed, The Governor General will STILL allow the coalition to become the government.

    Prorogue will be a disastrous move and Harper's last stunt as PM.

    Canada is a democracy not a tin pot dictatorship.

  • http://www.abandonedstuff.com Saskboy

    Way for the Conservatives to copy the Liberals last session. When the going gets tough… DON’T SHOW UP TO THE JOB!

  • http://www.abandonedstuff.com Saskboy

    Way for the Conservatives to copy the Liberals last session. When the going gets tough… DON’T SHOW UP TO THE JOB!

  • Ken Kupidy

    A very good idea to prorogue. All the lefties are behind the legality of the coalition. If it is within the Prime Minister’s power to prorogue then legally he he is bound to do that because the opposition members have obviously all had a mental breakdown and will need a few weeks to come back to their senses.

  • Ken Kupidy

    A very good idea to prorogue. All the lefties are behind the legality of the coalition. If it is within the Prime Minister’s power to prorogue then legally he he is bound to do that because the opposition members have obviously all had a mental breakdown and will need a few weeks to come back to their senses.

  • FF

    To those of you who think proroguing would decisively put out this opposition fire, two things to think about.

    a) Proroguing is, like calling an election, one of those exercies carried out officially by the Governor-General, though almost always with the consent of the PM. In this situation, the proroguation of parliament to prevent a sure defeat from a non-confidence motion (yes I will make up words) may tick off Jean enough that she denies Harper’s request. Hey, this is anarchy, there are no rules anymore.

    b) Even if parliament is prorogued, the opposition still have one possible route left. From the G&M blogs:

    “There is a school of constitutional thought that the opposition parties can bring down the government without a confidence vote by all of them writing the GG, saying they have lost confidence in the current government and have agreed that a new government should be formed along the terms set out in the letters.”

    Just some food for thought here; proroguing may not be the be-all-end-all here (that is, if Harper even chooses to do it — but why wouldn’t he? might as well try if he has the option)

  • FF

    To those of you who think proroguing would decisively put out this opposition fire, two things to think about.

    a) Proroguing is, like calling an election, one of those exercies carried out officially by the Governor-General, though almost always with the consent of the PM. In this situation, the proroguation of parliament to prevent a sure defeat from a non-confidence motion (yes I will make up words) may tick off Jean enough that she denies Harper’s request. Hey, this is anarchy, there are no rules anymore.

    b) Even if parliament is prorogued, the opposition still have one possible route left. From the G&M blogs:

    “There is a school of constitutional thought that the opposition parties can bring down the government without a confidence vote by all of them writing the GG, saying they have lost confidence in the current government and have agreed that a new government should be formed along the terms set out in the letters.”

    Just some food for thought here; proroguing may not be the be-all-end-all here (that is, if Harper even chooses to do it — but why wouldn’t he? might as well try if he has the option)

  • http://djxtreme-seashell.blogspot.com/ SeanMcAllister

    There are a few comments pointing to replacing the PM. Really, and just what exactly would anyone else have done that would be so much better to warrant that? I think he has done an amzing job for the party, and the Country, during very difficult times.

  • Warwick

    They better prorogue parliament.

    Then stack the senate and any empty judicial spots just in case (so the usurpers can't when they mount their coup.)

  • Wilf Day

    If the house falls, the GG is advised by the PM? Wrong:
    http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpu

    “If a Prime Minister who has lost a confidence vote asks for a dissolution, the Governor General probably has the discretion to decide whether anyone else is capable of forming a government.”

    A minority PM must try to win a vote of confidence when Parliament returns, or resign. It is not clear how long the Prime Minister could wait. “Neither is it clear at what point the Governor General could require the Prime Minister to make a decision. According to the written Constitution, a sitting of Parliament is required at least once a year.”

    To prorogue rather than try to win the vote on Dec. 8 is to refuse to meet the new Parliament. In theory the PM might prorogue until December 2009 on the ground that Parliament must sit once a year. Now that would be seen as a coup. How is proroguing until January any better? Would he be daring the Governor-General to dismiss him? Would the House send the Speaker to assert the rights of Parliament and ask her to do that? Are we back to the days of the Commons fighting against the divine right of kings? Proroguing should not be seriously contemplated.

  • chris

    You can prorogue the parliament for now, but you can't prorogue it forever. How can a government function without the support of the majority of the House?

  • Terry

    I think it would be a mistake to porogue parliament. Running away from a challenge is never a good idea. Just ask Stephane Dion. I don't think the coalition is popular among the public, and will likely fall apart before it ever reaches power.

  • Raj

    similar to what Charles I did and cancel all future meetings of Parliament. Good job Harper. Good job.

  • Terry

    I like that idea.

  • Timo

    Harper is trying to usurp the democratic will of Parliament. He should accept his fate — after all, he is the one who started this snowball rolling. The opps have more than the mandate to do this. Harper is finished and he knows it.

  • Cameron Crook

    How dare these 3 political parties go about doing what they are planning! The people of Canada elected a minority Conservative government as they felt that this was the best sollution to giving one party total control during these economic times. I honestly feel that if this coalition is allowed to run the government then we are heading down a path of economic disaster, where do they plan to come up with the 30 billion dollars to bailout the auto industry and logging industry? If they are allowed to do this then our deficiet will continue to grow, just as it did when the Liberals were in power! And just imagine the party with the most power will be the Bloc Quebecois, the party that wants to tear Canada apart, just how are they supposed to help the coalition?

  • Al

    great Do it!!!

  • democrat

    Harper should go back to the polls with his true platform:

    1) Outlaw abortion
    2) Reinstate the death penalty
    3) Sentence youth offenders over 10 as adults
    4) Eliminate equalisation
    5) Do away with human rights tribunals
    6) Eliminate the CBC
    7) Remove public workers' right to strike

  • Harold

    We here in the West feel a massive sense of betrayal that our elected memebrs will be relegated to impotency by this Coup d'etat of a coalition of losers. Unable to get elected, they resort to tactics of deceit and worse when you account for a seperatist party who could care less about the rest of Canada. This is a sad day, but one that will energize the New West into action to defend itself against attack by this gang of thugs who under any other circumstances, would not breath the same air together. The objective is clear and evident, grab power at all costs, and then go after the West. Stay tuned. We are ready and up to the task of defending ourselves