Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chretien Did the Same Thing and Other Myths of Proroguing

The PMO sent out some talking points about Chretien's history of prorogation. Conservative operatives have been posting them in comments all over the place and they have totally muddied the debate. There is nothing normal about this prorogation.

Harper has NOT run standard or even acceptable sessions of parliament. He has made three controversial and questionable dissolutions of parliament since he took power less than four years ago, in February 2006:
(1) September 2008 - Harper dissolved parliament and called an election (or rather, forced the Governor General to) despite his own law, passed in 2007, that created fixed election dates every four years. He did this because two months later Canadians would have known that he had created a structural budget deficit.
(2) December 2008 - Harper prorogued parliament to avoid a non-confidence vote.
(3) December 2009 - This prorogation.

This prorogation was NOT done so that MPs can watch the Olympics or create a budget or have time to think. Parliament was prorogued because the special House of Commons committee focusing on the 2006-07 treatment of Afghan detainees had attained such overwhelming evidence that they held an emergency meeting on December 14 and then announced that they would widen the inquiry. On December 15, rumours started swirling that Harper would prorogue parliament.

It is NOT the case that Harper's use of prorogation is the same as the 104 other prorogations in Canada's history. Other than incidents in 1873 and 1926, prorogation has not been used to avoid being accountable to parliament.

It is NOT true that Chretien's 2003 prorogation was the same as this one. (1) In the 2003 incident, Chretien prorogued when Martin was voted in to replace him as PM, so the parliamentary agenda needed to be reset, which is the purpose of proroguing. (2) Chretien had a majority, so there was no contempt of parliament. Yes, it was probably a side benefit for Chretien that he got to let Martin take all the heat on the A-G's report, but that wasn't the main purpose or justification of the prorogation. See this news article from the time.

Update: Only in Canada: Harper's prorogation is a Canadian thing



wilson said...

So Trudeau was in contempt of Parliament when he prorogued holoding only a minority government?
Looks to me like Libs pretty much hold the record on prorogation:

From the Library of Parliament modern prorogation;

26th Parliament Trudeau 1963/12/21,1965/4/3
27th Parliament Trudeau 1967/5/8
28th Parliament Trudeau 1969/10/22,1970/10/7,1972/2/16
29th Parliament Trudeau 1974/2/26
30th Parliament Trudeau 1976/10/12,1977/10/17,1978/10/10,1983/11/30

Anonymous said...

Very good post, hopefully this message gets out. By the way, though, Martin taking the heat for the GGs report was not a side benefit because Chretien offered to stay as PM to take the heat. Martin's people didn't accept, they wanted him out ASAP.

Yappa said...

wilson -

Do your own research. Find me a case where parliament was prorogued to avoid the accountability of parliament and I'll listen to you. Otherwise you're just spreading lies.

It took me a while to counter a bunch of Conservative lying talking points. I have to admit that you guys are really good at lying. Do you have no shame? Does it ever bother you that you're getting your public support based on misleading the public? ...I thought not.

Tof KW said...

"Looks to me like Libs pretty much hold the record on prorogation."

Now there is a totally moronic statement, not that I except anything better from you wilson. Since the grits have held government for 70 of the past 100 years, that kind of goes to figure that they've prorogued the most times. But never once in our Parliament's history has any PM (grit or tory) ever prorogued to escape the opposition. Harper's created a new precedent.

ridenrain said...

This prorogue also resets the comities in a senate that is now fair and balanced.

Tof KW said...

ridenrain ...another reformatory troll who totally misses the point.

I personally would love to see a future hard-left Lib/NDP minority government prorogue to 'reset' the agenda and 'balance' the senate. Maybe then you'd have a clue as to what this is all about.

ridenrain said...

I guess the reality of losing their grip on the senate is really starting to scare some folks.

I'm not sure about a combined NDP/Liberal group though. At the rate things are going, the NDP might just not want to associate with the Liberals any more.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tofu,

You keep showing BIAS.

Why ?
Are you that devoid of rational thinking ?
Are you that insecure with FACTS getting in the way of you emotional tirades ?

Yappa said...


Anonymous said...

So Trudeau was in contempt of Parliament when he prorogued holoding only a minority government?



Given the fact I was 1 to 4 years old the last time Trudeau had a minority, I don't really give a Rats behind about what Trudeau did either...

Good grief

Anonymous said...

Why does Trudeau and Chretien keep getting mentioned ?

People who just can't grasp the importance of why,reading this will explain it.

From a Rex Murphy article

"nothing in these arguments justifies Mr. Harper’s most recent decision to prorogue Parliament. Indeed, the fact that Mr. Chr├ętien got away with a much longer prorogation in 2003 is one of the better arguments for attacking that decision. Because, if there’s one thing of which we can be certain, failure to criticize one erosion in our parliamentary system only makes it easier to do the same and more the next time around."

Yappa said...

Anonymous at 8:47 -

What Harper has done is UNPRECEDENTED in modern times, in Canada and every similar parliamentary system. The Conservative spin machine is out there trying to convince you otherwise, but they're lying.

Read this:

Only in Canada: Harper's prorogation is a Canadian thing

The Conservtive Lie Machine keeps citing Chretien's 2003 prorogation as something similar. It was not. The November to January prorogue was done the day before Paul Martin took over as leader of the party, replacing Chretien. The purpose of prorogation is to finish one session of parliament so that the agenda can reset. A new prime minister taking over is exactly the sort of situation for which prorogation exists.

Read this news story from the time:

Mike said...

Yappa, your bias is obvious.

Read about Chretien prorogue of parliament during the Somalia inquiry, in which OUR soldiers were involved with illegal detention, torture and murder of Somalian civilians.

Go ahead. Try to call that a lie.

Unknown said...

In response to Wilson, Trudeau was not PM until the last day of the 27th Parliament Pearson was PM for the 26th and most of the 27th. His minority Parliament (29th) was prorogued after 418 days, Harper has proroged three times in a little over that. And the prorogation was not to avoid a confidence vote or a scandal of ministers lying to Parliament!

Anonymous said...

Chretien prorogued to avoid sponsorship scandal enquiry