January 25, 2010
There’s been a lot of talk among the grassroots at CAPP and among the opposition parties on how to prevent the kind of abuse to democracy that Stephen Harper calls “routine”. A lot of talk. Mostly pushing for new legislation, or even constitutional reform. The problem is that both of those approaches are like amputations to cure an infected paper cut–yes, the infection is dangerous and could kill you if left to fester, but drastic measures may not be necessary.
Now, keep in mind that I’m not an expert in parliamentary procedures and how they become official (other than by precedent), so maybe this won’t be do-able, but it seems to me that we can answer to the abuse and contempt of parliament by implementing a rule that a PM cannot ask the GG to prorogue the House
- Until he or she has passed a confidence motion in the House of Commons
- If there is a standing order to produce documents to a Parliamentary body (committee of either chamber, the Senate, the House of Commons), or to an oversight body (e.g. the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer)
A rule of this type would not impinge on the traditional privileges of the PM to actually be the one to ask for prorogation, but should prevent the most egregious abuses.