Strange Brouhaha

3 December 2008

So there’s a bit of a political tempest going on up here north of the 49th parallel. The opposition parties have made a legal but highly unusual (unprecedented?)  move to replace the current government with a coalition.  Joey de V posts an excellent summary of the goings on in Ottawa.

Over on Making Light, Graydon does an excellent job of discussing the legal and tactical issues facing the Governor General in comments.

Typically, the PM requests proroguation when the business of the house has been concluded. That means that either the agenda laid out in the throne speech has been dealt with or the government no longer intends to complete it. When the house of commons returns after proroguing, the government is supposed to give a new speech from the throne which sets a new legislative agenda. So, proroguing is a process which sends parliament into recess in order to allow the government to figure out a new agenda.

If the PM’s entire purpose in proroguing the house is to avoid a confidence vote and thus the fall of his/her government then the Governor General should probably not grant this request. The government is only allowed to stay the government as long as it has the confidence of the house and the fact of the Liberal/NDP coalition establishes that it no longer has it. Proroguation doesn’t, therefore, serve the interests of Parliament or the people. It only serves the interests of the party which currently forms the government.

Canadians should remember what it is all too easy to forget. We don’t elect parties or governments directly. We elect representatives who then form the government and who may or may not become part of it.

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