A sample of articles about the history of prorogation in Canada

Page 1 (Drummondville Spokesman – May 27, 1930) has a bit of a parallel to today’s prorogation. The PM wanted to set a new direction with a new budget and new multinational economic unit. The Economic Action Plan of the 1930s?

Page 2 (Glasgow Herald – March 16, 1939) is a two inch column describing a potential prorogation of Parliament by the King himself.

Page 3 (Ottawa Citizen – June 30, 1938) describes a 200,000 strong group (and this before Facebook) to protest the government’s move to jail violators of a media blackout law on reporting election results! The article describes that ministers would not meet with delegates of the group due to a “rush to prorogue Parliament”.

Page 4 (Montreal Gazette – March 15, 1939) – Describes the King coming to Parliament to prorogue the session or give royal assent to bills if session business is not complete

Page 5 (Montreal Gazette – June 11, 1928) – Mackenzie King – “We have concluded all the business of the session, so far as the Government is concerned”. I have not been able to find reference to the Toronto papers called King a tyrant or a despot.

Page 6 (St. John Sun – July 13, 1906) – Description of prorogation and reintroduction of House business when parliament resumes.

Page 7 (Toronto World – May 17, 1916) – Controversy as GG not present for prorogation proceedings. Prorogation to be completed by Chief Justice instead (who was deputy GG)

Page 8 (St. John Sun – April 5, 1902) – Description of prorogation despite 28 bills on order paper in a provincial parliament.

Page 9 (Ottawa Citizen – May 19, 1916) – Prorogation unusually quiet and with lack of ceremony. Did the PM request prorogation via telegraph?

Page 10 (Ottawa Citizen – Mar 13, 1911) – A member of parliament suggests that Parliament prorogue due to Typhoid epidemic sweeping through Ottawa.

Page 11 (Poverty Bay Herald (New Zealand) – June 13, 1914) – Prorogation and Senate politics. A delay in prorogation causes a deadlock in the Senate with Senators refusing to pass a bill increasing the number of Senators in the Upper Chamber.

Page 12 (Montreal Gazette – May 18, 1909) – A rush to prorogation

Page 13 (Montreal Gazette – September 9, 1911) – The government insisted it prorogued because it could not get money bills through while the opposition accused it of blocking an inquiry into a slush fund.

Page 14 (New Zealand Evening Post – January 8, 1903) – Obituary of Canadian journalist who numerous parliaments that had “assembled and prorogued”

Page 15 (Ottawa Citizen – October 28, 1985) – Broadbent dismisses PM Mulroney’s valid option of resetting Parliament due to “disasterous” session to come back with new Throne Speech

Page 16 (Ottawa Citizen – November 26, 1983) – description of business prior to potential prorogation by PM Mulroney.

Page 17 (CBC – November 13, 2003) – Report of prorogation of Parliament by Chretien to allow Martin to assemble new cabinet.

There are numerous other stories regarding prorogation. According to a deep news search going back before the turn of the 20th century, today’s particular instance of Prime Minister-recommended prorogation has produced the most news stories in Canadian history.

For perspective, Google News shows that 1,561 articles have been written by the Canadian media in the last month regarding prorogation (as of the time of this blog post).

Comparatively, 1,351 articles have been written about H1N1 over the same time period by the Canadian media.

If we search for Google News stories concerning “prorogation” OR “prorogue” AND “Facebook” we learn that the Canadian media has written 424 stories, while the Facebook group protesting prorogation has 208,744 members. This amounts to 492 new members to the Facebook group for every MSM article referencing the group over the past few weeks. This number does not include television, magazine and radio coverage of the Facebook group. And to think, it all started with a “fury” of 20,000 when the group was in the budding stages of becoming an MSM darling.

An historical perspective shows that prorogation is quite a common parliamentary procedure in the country and most prorogations have passed without too much ink spilled on the pages of Canada’s historic newspapers.

So why the media fixation on prorogation? Canada’s news organizations are facing hard times and this news is evident to those who regularly buy newspapers — which, it seems, is not a lot of us. Budgets of Ottawa bureaus have been slashed with some offices closing completely. Prorogation may be a threat to those that report the news because of a sparser parliamentary calendar and a move by parent companies to prioritize resources elsewhere. An annual prorogation, as bandied about by the PM earlier, would not serve the Ottawa news business well.

Furthermore, the current vacuum of news content slices two ways; the frustration by many without content to fill columns and airtime and the news vacuum that now exists without anything else going on in Ottawa.

Comments

comments

  • IPNightly

    And who are you supposed to be, James Dean. Or are you just a Rebel Without a Clue

  • IPNightly

    east of eden, Hmmm, James Dean or Rebel Without a Clue.

  • Omanator

    What Press, the only thing I have been reading is loudmouth Liberal Propaganda. Sorry there is no free press in Canada, not a single station that has the guts to sometime reports something good about this Government. Funny though, inspite of the spinning, the Tories seemed to have won the last two elections.

  • Richard

    centre and centre-left ?

  • Beer and Popcorn

    Gayle – will the next coalition be Liberal / NDP / Bloc / Taliban?

    Nudge nudge, wink wink..

  • John Charles

    Mr. Taylor

    To attribute the concern by the press with prorogation to a need for news stories in a world of diminishing news content is utterly ridiculous,and flies in the face of the volume of blooging that deals with the subject currently, clearly not fired by passionate prose from the press, but rather by a real concern for the direction Canadian politics is taking. Is the Economist so devoid of content that it must devote space to Canadian prorogation?

    Many, many people are alarmed because this prorogation fits into a pattern of cynical contempt by the Prime Minister for our institutions that is unprecedented. It is the contempt, in a context of government avoidance of scrutiny and prime-ministerial hauteur, that keeps this story alive, not prorogation per se. And some fear there are other going on while Parliament is prorogued that are not yet clear, but that will emerge without benefit of rigorous examination by the representatives of the people denied the right of inquiry.

    Certainly prorogation has been used before; certainly it may have been abused before. You may even have identified some cases. But because someone lied in the past does not make lying acceptable now. Because someone stole in the past, does not make stealing OK now. That does not justify or condone its use now.

  • m123T

    Wont there be another prorogation when the lib/ndp coalition vote no confidence and we head into an election.
    So, the coaliton are supporting legislation to stop prorogation, thus possibly eliminating an election call.
    Nice to know they support the PM and his government, and want it to stay in power forever.
    It is also nice to know there are so many Canadians who also support never having another election, by getting out to protest.
    See, it is possible to twist anything to ones advantage.
    Oh, and if they open up the Constitution, add an amendment, any leadership candidate not paying their debts in time are ineligible to sit in the HofC and can never stand for election again, anywhere.
    That might stop all those in it just for 15 minutes of fame.

  • Joeblow

    But Canadian's are stupid. Well, at least the 28% or so of them who vote Liberal. 16 (give or take) years of 'FIBeral' government taught them nothing. Haper has done right by me. Everything he's done “wrong” has been wrong in the eyes of Libs, lefties, and commies. And for that I say, good job!

  • Casual Observer

    Whether one agrees or not with prorogue, is there not some requirement for the MSM to report it accurately? Is the MSM not accountable to some body – ethics or practices, when they outright lie? The MSM has been consistently reporting that “Harper shut down parliament for two months”; last week on his website, Rick Mercer reported that he shut it down for three months. This progroguing “shuts down parliament” for 22 days, and when you factor in that usually when we are putting on an Olympic games, that parliament would take a pause – and rightly so; then the real, actual proroguing is about 2 weeks. This is sure a far cry from 3 months or 2 months. Or is the MSM practice now, as long as it is presented as anti-Harper, anything goes – the truth or accuracy of facts doesn't matter, if the message of the article is slandering Harper in some way????

  • gimbol

    John:

    The subject matter that has the oppostion to prorogation in such an uproar, can and will be investigated to the full extent once Parliament reconvienes. The difference is that with the realligning of the committees to reflect the current standings will allow it to bring in facts that extend to the years before 2006, facts, that had the committee structure stayed the same, would have been rejected by a vote of the committee.

  • Gayle

    The Parliamentary committee structure is not changed by proroguing. Only the Senate committee structure will change. In any event, you obviously missed the fact the LPC have called for a judicial inquiry going back to the start of the mission.

    Clearly they are not the ones with something to hide.

  • Gayle

    I refer you to all the other people here who argued the same thing. See my responses.

  • http://bcblue.wordpress.com/ BC Blue

    You're embarrassing yourself by saying it was non-partisan. Check out the NDP worker handing out signs…

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/23/toronto-pror

  • Casual Observer

    Whether one agrees or not with prorogue, is there not some requirement for the MSM to report it accurately? Is the MSM not accountable to some body – ethics or practices, when they outright lie? The MSM has been consistently reporting that “Harper shut down parliament for two months”; last week on his website, Rick Mercer reported that he shut it down for three months. This progroguing “shuts down parliament” for 22 days, and when you factor in that usually when we are putting on an Olympic games, that parliament would take a pause – and rightly so; then the real, actual proroguing is about 2 weeks. This is sure a far cry from 3 months or 2 months. Or is the MSM practice now, as long as it is presented as anti-Harper, anything goes – the truth or accuracy of facts doesn't matter, if the message of the article is slandering Harper in some way????

  • gimbol

    Well the rally came and went yet prorgation still took place.
    Guess that means the rally organizers failed to achieve their goal.
    The rally happened and Iggy got in front of the crowd with a golden opportunity to say something inspiring, so he said..he said…uhm…well he made a speech to the assembled crowd.
    Then after the rally the next day, Iggy comes out with a new idea…sorry… an idea he poached from the NDP, that limits need to be put on prorogation….he did really..
    But don't dispair liberals, when the throne speech and the budget are tabled you get two chances to bring the government down and go to an election.
    Because trying to form a coalition still needs the support of the separatist party, and the last time the opposition tried that brain fart Harper's approval rating went over 50%.

  • gimbol

    John:

    The subject matter that has the oppostion to prorogation in such an uproar, can and will be investigated to the full extent once Parliament reconvienes. The difference is that with the realligning of the committees to reflect the current standings will allow it to bring in facts that extend to the years before 2006, facts, that had the committee structure stayed the same, would have been rejected by a vote of the committee.

  • Gayle

    The Parliamentary committee structure is not changed by proroguing. Only the Senate committee structure will change. In any event, you obviously missed the fact the LPC have called for a judicial inquiry going back to the start of the mission.

    Clearly they are not the ones with something to hide.

  • Gayle

    I refer you to all the other people here who argued the same thing. See my responses.