Don’t you just love the way chief Grit Michael Ignatieff has leaped unto the NDP bandwagon by offering his own proposal to curb the prime minister’s power to prorogue parliament? Not long ago, Ignatieff seemed okay with the PM having such power—he just wanted it used more responsibly. Now he wants the rules changed.
But that is so typical of Ignatieff, who is basically a political neophyte. The man’s political instinct is so weak he frequently takes an early stand on topical issues from which he later has to back off.
The backbone of the Liberal proposal is to require at least ten days written notice from the prime minister of his intention to prorogue, together with reasons for doing so, and to require the PM to bring the issue of prorogation before the House of Commons for a full debate. Prorogation would then require approval of a majority of the House.
In a practical sense—and I’m sure this is not lost on the wily Liberal brain trust of Peter Donolo and Bob Rae—the new rules would only have an effect in cases of Conservative minority governments.
In a majority government, the PM would win his vote every time. And any Liberal minority government will almost certainly be backed by the NDP to avoid the possibility of a return to power by the Conservatives. The New Democrats have always been able to blackmail the Grits more effectively than they have the Conservatives.
So PMs heading up Conservative minority governments are the only ones to lose the power to prorogue parliament.
Interesting how the minds of the Liberals work.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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