Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Prorogation Is The New Responsible Government

Where Stephen Harper has failed in numerous indirect attempts to alter the makeup of fundamental constitutional institutions, like the Senate, he has practically succeeded in changing the Canadian constitution by the most available means to a Prime Minister, prorogation.

Many like to think that our constitution is safeguarded by walls of elaborate amending formulas, yet they are blissfully ignorant of the ever vulnerable conventions that compose a significant portion of the foundation of our great nation.

Besides the BNA ACT of 1867, the Constitution Act of 1982 and other documents, the Canadian constitution consists of unwritten traditions called conventions that derive their legitiamacy and authority from the historical observance and acceptance from leaders and institutions. Besides politicians, the Supreme Court of Canada has relied on such customs in determining rulings, as well as the Governor General in reaching pivotal decisions.

Stephen Harper with the Dec. 30 2009 prorogation and the one a year prior, has drastically affected the most important of our unwritten traditions, responsible government. Where it was by historic and justified custom that for close to a 150 years our Prime Minister has governed with and only with the confidence of the House, now the power of prorogation not only threatens responsible government but demonstrates its potential impotence.

Stephen Harper in circumventing the will of parliament again and again has weakened the convention of responsible government, if not completely casting it down from Ottawa's hill.

In future years, when Canadians watch the doors of Rideau Hall, waiting for word on whether prorogation will be granted or not, the justification will not be in terms of why should it be, but why not. For now in facing an accumulation of examples of a Prime Minister avoiding democratic accountability through prorogation, how can any Governor General in the future now deny any Prime Minister's request for prorogation, no matter its toll on our democracy?


WesternGrit said...

Great post Scott... Very accurate comments. This may change things fundamentally. We hope there's changes implemented by Parliament to prevent this... There is talk... Let's hope.

Harper's total disrespect for our Canadian institutions harken back (only a few years) to his "firewall speech days".

Little has changed.

Tom said...

You guys keep missing the important word Conservative from your pontifications. I think your point is that Conservatives should not be able to prorogue while Liberals, being responsible, should be able to do whatever they want.