(Original email here)
Thank you for taking the time to write me regarding the prorogation of Parliament by the Conservative government. I share your outrage at what is essentially a suspension of Canadian democracy for two months: the people’s elected representatives have been barred from meeting and holding the government to account. I, too, intend to attend the rally in Vancouver on the January 23rd, and I appreciate your action and participation.
This episode is the latest display by this prime minister and government of utter disrespect for the democratic system. Over the past four years I have watched the Conservatives disregard majority votes in the House of Commons, ignore legislation (including their own law on election dates), and forcibly shut down committees and the whole of Parliament to avoid defeat or embarrassment. This is their second prorogation in a year, and combined with their dissolution in September, 2008 to hold an election, the third time they have intentionally dissolved Parliament’s legislative agenda.
They are betting that Canadians don’t notice or care, and they win when Canadians become cynical and disengage from the political process.
Many Canadians have been calling for the parliamentarians to return on January 25th in defiance of Harper’s prorogation, citing England’s 1640 Long Parliament as precedent. I have also heard from constituents who propose passing legislation that would limit a prime minister to one prorogation per Parliament. I appreciate these creative suggestions. I will be consulting with my caucus colleagues and other MPs to find a solution that is appropriate to the Canadian context in the 21st century. Rest assured, I will be joining my New Democrat colleagues in working hard to speak for my constituents and all Canadians whether in Parliament or elsewhere.
The government’s rationale for prorogation is insulting: if they want to “consult Canadians” about the next phase of their economic action plan, they should consider consulting the MPs who are elected and paid to represent Canadians to the government. Regardless, Parliament was already on a six week break (Dec. 11-Jan. 25). Were they not already in their in their ridings, talking to their constituents? I was.
Meanwhile, their true motivations are clear: avoid accountability over the Afghan detainee issue, stack the undemocratic Senate in their favour, and try to convince Canadians that Parliament is unworkable and irrelevant. They argue that only 22 sitting days are lost; however, much work can be done in 22 days in the House of Commons if the government were to take a cooperative approach. Committees that could have met outside official sitting days have been dissolved, preventing all oversight of the government’s work over the next two months. This underhanded tactic begs the questions: What is the prime minister afraid of? What is he hiding on the issue of Afghan detainees? What does he know that he doesn’t want the world to know before the Olympics?
In addition, prorogation eliminates all government legislation and committee work from the Order Paper. This means that all government legislation, studies and work must be completely re-introduced – and months of parliamentary work have been rendered meaningless.
This prorogation may be technically legal under our system, but it is morally an affront to our democracy and unacceptable, I believe, to most Canadians.
Thank you for showing Stephen Harper that Canadians do care about their democracy. I will make sure your views are expressed clearly and forcefully.
Don Davies, M.P.
New Democrat critic for Public Safety
ph: (613) 943-0267
fax: (613) 943-0219
Excellent answer! I think I’ll be voting for this guy if he stands again! (yeah, Massimo, I know, tactical voting. But this is a pretty safe NDP seat. ABC!). I didn’t expect to be given more reasons to be angry…