The one thing most politicians and political pundits seem to have in common is a penchant for hypocrisy. Take as an example the reaction to Premier Dalton McGuinty’s proroguing of the Ontario legislature.
Since McGuinty’s announcement that he is closing down the legislature, I’ve read and heard all sorts of high sounding reasons why this is such a bad thing—mainly from conservatives.
These are many of the same voices who staunchly defended PM Stephen Harper’s proroguing of parliament in 2008—to avoid a confidence vote and almost certain defeat in the House of Commons—and again in 2009 amid the parliamentary dust up over the Afghan detainees issue.
But, of course, liberals never have to take a backseat to anyone when it comes to hypocrisy. Readers may remember the outrage—much of which, I believe, was feigned—expressed by Liberal politicians and their media supporters over PM Harper’s federal prorogations and note the general support they are now giving to Premier McGuinty’s recent suspension of the Ontario legislature.
To me, prorogation is a tool to be used by a prime minister or premier as he or she sees fit.
While prorogation is especially useful to end a secession of parliament so the government in power can begin afresh with a throne speech and new agenda, there are the less seemly cases in which prorogation is used for strictly partisan political purposes.
It all depends on the particulars of the situation facing the government at the time. And the leader of the day must make the call and face whatever consequences accrue to that decision.
If a government were to prorogue to shield itself from criminal activity, we do have our police and regulatory agencies which are free to carry on their own investigations even if parliament/legislature is not in session.
As for scandals—the real, not the politically manufactured kind—they’ll sit and fester and be there to stink up the offending party’s next election campaign, for, ultimately, it is left to voters to decide whether or not they believe the government that prorogued acted responsibly, ethically, lawfully and so forth.
PM Harper, apparently, “got away” with his prorogations—having won a significant majority in the last general election he faced. Time will tell how well the Ontario Grits will fare as a result of Mr. McGuinty’s attempt to dodge the political fall-out on the floor of the legislature and in the committee rooms, not to mention the resulting adverse media coverage.