Saturday, October 20, 2012

Does Dalton McGuinty’s Prorogue Pass the Smell Test?

I may annoy some friends with my thoughts, but when I started to do these Blogs I promised myself that I would try not to be biased and would rant at anyone in government who I felt deserved it.

This week Dalton McGuinty ticked me off.

What did he do?  Like you really have to ask… He prorogued the Ontario Legislature.

Like many others, I joined Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament (CAPP) back when Stephen Harper decide to start using the prorogue as a “Get out of Trouble Free” card pulled from the Community Chest stack. I felt it was wrong to use the power of the prorogue to shut and lock the doors to the House of Commons just because the Opposition had him on the ropes.

And now Dalton has done it and I’m just as annoyed with him.

Traditionally when the leader of the Government prorogues the Legislature, it is simply to indicate that the Government has met the goals that they set out to do in their Throne Speech.  It is like a bookmark for historians so they can point at something that happened in say the Second Session of the 39th Parliament or whatever.  Federally a session lasts about a year and usually ends with a break for the Parliamentarians, like the summer recess.  A prorogue.

An abuse occurs when the Government decides that it is getting too hot for them and they just want to lock the doors with everyone outside to air the House out and hope the heat goes with it.  It also shuts down Committees and kills everything on the agenda… including the item or items that are embarrassing the Government.

It seems to have worked for Stephen, now Dalton is going to try it too.

I can understand the reasoning… Dalton has a minority Government and he’s in a jam and wants to get around it.

So Dalton decides he’s had enough of being Premier, steps down as leader and prorogues the Legislature.  He says it is so the negotiations with the civil servants can go more smoothly, I don’t think so.  I think it is more likely to prevent the Opposition from forcing a vote of non-confidence and bringing down the Government while they are without a leader.  When a new leader is chosen, they’ll end the prorogue and deflect all the accusations by saying “I didn’t do it, he did.  I just brought the Legislature back.”

The PC leader Tim Hudak must be fuming.  How can he rail against Dalton’s prorogation without having Harper’s twin prorogues tossed back in his face?

Now, for the people who are outside of Ontario who are wondering why they should care…

Quite simply, our governments watch each other to see what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll admit that living here in Ontario, I was barely aware that British Columbia’s Legislature is shut down while Premier Christy Clark bails furiously trying to keep her Liberal Party afloat.

Don’t be surprised if your Legislature decides that a cooling off period is required when that government gets in a jam.

We in Ontario have seen the dreaded Omnibus Budget Bill raise its head here, following in the footsteps of the Harper Party who are trotting out yet another 400+ page behemoth Budget Bill… your turn will likely come soon.

So does Dalton’s prorogue pass the smell test?  Not from where I’m sitting.

And for all the Harper Apologists and Echoboxes that blather on about “Where are all the Lefties that cried out about Harper’s prorogues?” You’re looking at one of them here Sunshine.  What Harper did was wrong and what Dalton is doing is just as wrong.

As for the pundits who think Dalton is going to run for the Federal Liberal Leadership, I seriously doubt it.  Dalton fell on his sword to save his party.  The stink of this prorogue will follow him for a while.

Just for fun… The use of prorogation in Canada dates back to the first Parliament Federally.  In Ontario the first use of the prorogue was by Bill Davis, the patron saint of all Ontario conservatives and Harper Party loyalists.  Every Premier since has used it including Bob Rae and Mike Harris so all three Ontario Parties that have formed governments in Queens Park have done it.  Usually in the traditional manner.

‘Nuff said… If I never have to write the word prorogue again it will be too soon. Cheers, BC.

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