Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Before Liberals Complain About Parliament Being Prorogued As Undemocratic........

Jean Chretien prorogued Parliament four times during his time as Prime Minister: February 5, 1996; September 18, 1999; September 16, 2002; and November 12, 2003.
* On each occasion, the Liberals killed their own legislation. Several bills ended up dying over and over again due to Liberals proroguing Parliament or calling early elections.
* September 16, 2002 – After a summer of Liberal in-fighting and Jean Chretien being forced to announce his planned retirement date in August, Chretien prorogued Parliament, killing legislation so that he could unveil his legacy agenda.
* According [to] Eddie Goldenberg, Chretien decided to have a Throne Speech just to test the will of the Martinite forces who were trying to push him out early: Chretien was happy. “I like that. It is exactly what we just discussed. Prepare me a statement. But just one more thing,” said the old fox. “I want a Throne Speech in the fall. The government will stand or fall on it. If they want to vote against me on it, then it is the one case in which I will run again.” (Eddie Goldenberg, The Way it Works, p. 380)
* November 12, 2003 – Jean Chretien announced that Parliament was prorogued on the eve of the Liberal leadership convention (so Chretien and Martin didn’t have to sit together in the House of Commons and face a dispute over who was Prime Minister). Martin did not become Prime Minister until December 12, 2003 and Parliament did not resume until February 2, 2004 – almost four months later

And by the way, Chretien prorogued Parliament in November, 2003, to avoid having to face the AG's report on what happened with the Liberal Party and Adscam, and thus allowing Paul Martin to answer for what occurred under Chretien's term as PM.

44 comments:

Ted Betts said...

Sorry Paul, but this is a ridiculous comparison.

The shortest session in a Parliament presided over by Chretien was the second session of the 36th Parliament at 376 days (133 sittings of the HoC). By contrast, Stephen Harper has presided over 4 sessions in 2 Parliaments - 3 of those 4 sessions have all been shorter (in days and sittings of the Commons) than Chretien's shortest session.

Chretien went years between prorogations. By contrast, this is the third time in 16 months that Harper has run from Parliament. Only one of those times - last year - could you say he had some reasonable justification.

And each of those times he has run from Parliament, he has thrown out way more work and wasted way more taxpayer dollars than Chretien. At least 32 government bills are being killed by Harper today.

Chretien and Martin called in the AG, the RCMP and the Gomery inquiry to investigate themselves. By contrast, whenever Harper has faced some scrutiny, he just shuts down the committee or cancels Parliament altogether. Like today.

This is unprecedented and anti-democratic. Plain and simple. And the fact that he thought so little of Parliament and Canadians that he deliberately dropped this little bomb during the holidays and on the day of other big announcements shows his disdain for our democratic institutions and for us citizens.

I've never liked Harper. But now I am really angry with him.

paulsstuff said...

Ted, you yourself know Gomery was not allowed to investigate any contracts during the inquiry that were already being investigated criminally by the RCMP. And it was the AG who called in the RCMP. Liberals begrudgingly asked after it became apparent the whole thing wouldn't blow over. Matter of fact, Chretien was so intent on getting out the truth of Adscam, he sent the star witness out of the country.

Then the fact Chretien prorogued Parliament to have himself avoid the AG's report on Adscam.

Then there's that whole Somalia Inquiry shutdown when damaging evidence finally started to come out. And the refusal to hold an Air India inquiry (which Mulroney was also guilty of).

Chretien prorogued Parliament four times in roughly seven years. As for "dropping this on the holidays", that's called politics 101. practiced by all sitting governments, both federally and provincially.

And why the worry about Parliament not sitting? Is it because Iggy is still holding out for EI reforms? NOt enough stimulus being spent? Or too much stimulus being spent?

Ted Betts said...

The point being Paul, the Liberals did not and do not run and hide from Parliament. That is Harper's MO.

The moment there is any scrutiny and any call for accountability, Harper shuts down the committee or cancels Parliament. There is no equivalent by any other Canadian federal or provincial government that I am aware of.

And boy, wouldn't we all like to be able to tell our bosses that we've unilaterally decided to go on vacation whenever we want, just as a report is due or our performance is getting some heat.

Also, I'm not sure of you math there Paul. Chretien was elected in 1993 and the last prorogation you mentioned was in 2003. That's a historically standard new Parliament every few years.

By contrast, this will be the third in 16 months thanks to Harper as he continues to go to great lengths to ignore the will of the people.

Conservatives: our principles don't apply to us.

Patrick Ross said...

Ted seems to be missing the key point of context here:

Governments in Canada routinely prorogue Parliament. Minority governments in Canada tend to prorogue more often.

Now, the 2008 proroguement was absolutely not a routine proroguement. But Parliament is also routinely prorogued for events of national significance, like the Olympics.

You folks need to stop venting your spleens over the fact that your undemocratic plot was foiled last year, and start getting back in touch with reality again.

Ted Betts said...

No Paul, I'm afraid you seem to be missing the key point of context here: Governments in Canada do not routinely prorogue Parliament. And they certainly do not do so to avoid accountability to Parliament.

This goes double for minority governments in Canada which, I think, if you check the history tend to prorogue less often not more.

More to the point, this is the THIRD time Harper has scrapped Parliament in 16 months. Even you have to admit that that is completely unprecedented.

Ted Betts said...

Sorry, last comment was addressed to Patrick's comment.

paulsstuff said...

"The point being Paul, the Liberals did not and do not run and hide from Parliament. That is Harper's MO."

Sure Ted, they never shut down the Somalia inquiry. They were open from the start about Adscam. Jean Chretien never tried to destroy Frances Bedouin's reputation, as well as the man mentally and monetarily for having the audacity to prove Chretien lied in the HoC for two years about Shawinigate.

And someone as involved in politics as you Ted know full well that a majority government has greater control over things like committees. Look at the farce that was the committee looking into the Conservative election spending. That committee refused to allow one person to testify on behalf of the government, which I would suggest is a far greater example of democracy being thrown wayside.

Or the committee looking at Mulroney-Schreiber. Liberals on committee meeting with Schreiber getting their talking points down.

Of course the biggest problem with any of the opposition parties now complaing about Parliamnet being prorogued is the fact the government survived confidence vote, both monetary and votes of non-confidence.

And if Liberals were really that concerned about Canada and working for their constituents, MP's like Ralph Goodale wouldn't need to be tracked down south of the border for comment.

paulsstuff said...

"Governments in Canada do not routinely prorogue Parliament."

eg: February 5, 1996; September 18, 1999; September 16, 2002; and November 12, 2003.
Nuff said:0)

Ted Betts said...

And someone as involved in politics as you Ted know full well that a majority government has greater control over things like committees.

It was the will of the people to have a minority government Paul. Harper can't just pick and choose what elements of democracy he likes and which ones he doesn't. Our democratic system says committees are formed in proportion to elections. Just because Harper doesn't get his way, doesn't mean he can just simply try to shut down the majority.

"Look at the farce that was the committee looking into the Conservative election spending. That committee refused to allow one person to testify on behalf of the government, which I would suggest is a far greater example of democracy being thrown wayside."

Actually, that is disturbingly untrue. Finley showed up, announced, and declared that he would be interviewed then and there, no preparation, no documents. It was another excellent example of the contempt the Conservative Party has for our democratic institutions. It was appalling behaviour and he should have been fired, but of course it was all orchestrated.

I am so sick and tired of Harper and his undermining of Parliament just because he can't get what he wants.

I don't like this man one bit, but he's buried or abandoned all of his conservative principles so I've been content to be a critic. This is such an affront to democracy that he's got me acting in a way I haven't in a long time. Surprisingly, it is not his conservative agenda (not sure he even has one) that gets me going but his acting like a tyrant and abandoning democratic accountability.

You watch on this Paul. He's woken a sleeping giant across all regions in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Ted but the nonsense that has come out of the liberal camp over the years is just too much to stomach.I lived through it as a young left wing idealist.Thats all you folks tried to pump up under the Chretien years.Nice liberal voters who overlook any of the parties shortfalls.
The election of Obama south of the border,unbalanced reporting in the media,unwarrented attacks on those of faith,and obvious ignorance when it comes to world affairs,has changed my tune the last two years.
Domestically my life doesnt change much no matter whos in office so i can afford to be a Conservative.Its the indoctrinated youth of today with biased ideologies is what is of concern to me and radical tyrants and oppressive regimes on this world.

Ted Betts said...

"Governments in Canada do not routinely prorogue Parliament."

eg: February 5, 1996; September 18, 1999; September 16, 2002; and November 12, 2003.
Nuff said:0)

December 30, 2009


Give it a rest Paul. All governments do eventually prorogue. No prorogation is routine because it is a dramatic event in government. That is why years usually pass between as with Chretien. Harper is making it routine with mere months in between.

Anonymous said...

Not sure of the point in listing the abridged history of parliamentary prorogation in Canada; we hired a bunch of people to do the hard work of government, and they promised to do that. Now at least some of them appear unwilling or unable to do that, and the main cause seems to be party politics. None of this can serve the needs of the people funding the exercise: you, me and the next sucker.

The customer benefit for the investment of money and trust has never been less obvious. I'm not paying this guy to game the system - I'm paying him, my MP, and the GG to help us govern ourselves and our nation. They are, to be blunt, not so good at it.

Colour me concerned; red and blue don't even enter into it, except as continual and mounting obstacles to representative democracy.

CanadianSense said...

I think a large number of angry MP's don't like spending time at home.

Do they have to do chores and help around the house?

Is the meal plan or evening activities much better in Ottawa?

How many MP will use the extra 6-8 weeks to complete the home renovation credit?

Anonymous said...

I don't see how "the Liberals did it" or "Chretien did it" is a legitimate argument. The Conservatives came into power on a platform of accountability and open government, in contrast to the sponsorship scandal. They were on their high horse, very virtuous while decrying Liberal shenanigans behind closed doors. But now they find it more convenient to forget all the promises and virtues that brought them into power.

CanadianSense said...

Prorogue is a legal tool used by many governments.

During a period of prorogation (or recess), the Speaker, the Prime Minister, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries remain in office and all Members of the House retain their full rights and privileges.
http://www.parl.gc.ca/compendium/web-content/c_d_prorogationparliament-e.htm

Stop whinning and prepare your coalition for the March budget rollover.

or

See you at the Polls!

The coalition has ten more MP's to stop this gov't.

Chop Chop, don't waste those extra eight wee

Patrick Ross said...

As per Ted,

From the December 14, 2009 Globe and Mail:

"Majority governments normally prorogue after a couple of years in office as a way of recalibrating.

But minorities, like the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, may decide to end Parliament after a shorter period.
"

So, if one treats the 2008 proroguement as it was -- in other words, not a routine proroguement -- then this can be easily slid into the routine category.

After all, what are you arguing the Tories are trying to get away from? Questions regarding detainees?

It's a non-story. I'm sure the opposition will find no shortage of things that other countries do to complain about in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

"You folks need to stop venting your spleens over the fact that your undemocratic plot was foiled last year..."

Speaking of the democratic process, why do some folks insist on referring to last year's coalition attempt as 'undemocratic.' Our system of government allows the opposition parties to put forward precisely such a proposal to the GG, if they declare a lack of confidence in the current party in power and can demonstrate a willingness and ability to form an alternate government. As for the "But nobody voted for a 'Lib-NDP-BQ' government!" argument, let's not forget that the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc together represent an absolute majority of voters in Canada. Whether those individual voters' interests could all be satisfied in a coalition-style government (as opposed to a single-party Lib or NDP or Bloc majority/minority) is a different question -- one that could only be (and should have been allowed to be) answered through an actual attempt at governing. Forming a formal oalition government in Canada may be a politically disasterous move -- and it was, and still is -- but it is hardly an undemocratic one.

BTW, here's a quick test of whether you truly believe in the democratic process in Canada -- you support its legitimate workings and results, regardless of which party or parties it puts into power.

maryT said...

The extra "holiday" MPs get are 21 sitting days, not 3 months. Someone get a calendar and count from Jan 25 to March 3.
The Hoc does not sit on Friday, Sat or Sunday.
Pay attention, is your MP in his riding during this break, or are they in Arizona, like Goodale. Why isn't he working for his constituents during this break. Will he extend his holiday, or return by Jan 25. Wonder how many other MPs are out of Canada, instead of doing the work for Canada.
Will any of Goodale's staff get in trouble for telling where he is.
I do hope he is paying for his holiday on his own dime, and not trying to pass it off as govt business.
And how many liberals, with their faux outrage of the proroguing will vote against the budget and face the voters.
With a possible election in April, shouldn't they get home and get in touch with their voters.
Great ad against Goodale, using his words at how the PM is blah blah, and blah, Ralph decides to ignore all those problems and holiday in Arizona. (and they had snow down there, and it is cold.)

maryT said...

Taliban take credit for the roadside bomb that killed four of our soldiers and a female journalist.
I wonder if those responsible are released prisoners, captured by our troops.

tori said...

shorter ted and anon:

it's ok when the LPC does it, but not when the CPC does it.

jad said...

"More to the point, this is the THIRD time Harper has scrapped Parliament in 16 months. Even you have to admit that that is completely unprecedented"

Well it certainly would be if it were true, but unfortunately you can't count.

September 2007 to December 2008 is 15 months, and December 2008 to December 2009 is another 12. In my math that makes 27 months, not sixteen.

If you're trying to make a point, it always helps to get the details straight.

gimbol said...

Anon, Ted, etc:

The point is that Chretien closed down Parliament over far more dodgy logic and the silver lining you guys miss is that if you disagree so much with the direction of the country then you should be petitioning your side(Lib-NDP-Bloc coalition) to get its ducks in a row so that they vote to bring the government down the next time it sits.
Thats a confidence vote that you can argue specifically what you don't agree with the governments legislative agenda as read by the Governor General.
Of course you then have to decide if you want to attempt to form a minority government or go to the polls....because Iggy didn't lie when he said the coalition was dead, right?
Sarc off.
The confidence vote is coming, the sun will be shining, reccession over, with a budget tabled...which will I hope contain the mother of all poison pills the measure to end the political subsidy, and you guys have to figure out whose going to be first out of the gate to say they will vote agianst the government.
Iggy better hurry before Jack and Gilles put him in the corner again.
Three months of speculation here we go.
Care to go to the electorate on keeping that lollypop?

maryT said...

Jad, they are using the same math to make 21 days into 3 months.

maryT said...

In addition to proroguing parliament Chretain also called a couple of elections he didn't need to, when he had time left in his mandate and a majority. Martin did the same thing. Where was the outrage by the lib media when that happened.
And I do think elections are much more expensive than a 21 day recess.

maryT said...

Ted, when did the PM prorouge the government 3 times to run from parliament. Wasn't one of those time to have an election, where he won more seats. He must have been really scared to do that.
And wasn't the opposition ignoring the will of the people when they tried their coup.
Do you really believe the opposition would have won the seats they did if they had told the voters of their plans ahead of time.
We will know next time what they plan if libs/ndp do not field 308 candidates each, not split between them.

Rich said...

Chretien and Martin called in the AG, the RCMP and the Gomery inquiry to investigate themselves.

Actually Ted, it was the opposition parties that forced the government of Chretien/Martin to establish the Gomery Commission, Martin/Chretien were ready to shut down the Public ethic enquiry by stating that there was nothing left to cover. It was Paul Martin that restricted the Gomery Commission on what they could investigate; if you remember rightly when Chretien appeared at the Gomery Commission he made a farce of this with his idiotic golf ball demonstation which tried to change the tune.

Recently the Federal Courts have ruled that Chretien was to present his day timers as evidence during the Adscam. Chretien still has not complied. Do a little research and check your facts

Rich said...

Anon December 31, 2009 6:03:00 AM
Speaking of the democratic process, why do some folks insist on referring to last year's coalition attempt as 'undemocratic.'

Anon: you are right it is the right of the opposition parties to approach the GG and suggest that they form government, however it is also the right of the GG to accept or reject that request. Remeber, the GG is the defacto head of State representing the Queen and can acceded to first Minister (the Prime Minister)'s request before any opposition. One point that escapes you, is the opposition parties got together before Parliament resumed after the 2008 October elections. Before any Economic statement had been made. This little episode made Canada look like a third world country. The machinations of the junta comprise of Ed Broadbent, Jean Chretien Jack Layton and Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe.

Anonymous said...

Rich: "One point that escapes you, is the opposition parties got together before Parliament resumed after the 2008 October elections. Before any Economic statement had been made."

No, it didn't escape me, because whether they first met before or after the fiscal update release is incidental to my point: that in a minority parliament situation, proposing a coalition government comprised of opposition parties is not undemocratic. It doesn't matter when or under what pretext they decide to attempt it. The fiscal update just happened to be the first opportunity that arose.

By the way, characterizing the coalition as a "third world" "junta" makes you sound as ignorant and hyperbolic as someone calling the whole episode "undemocratic."

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