PM playing games?

If you have been following Ottawa-based politics, you may have heard speculation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might prorogue the House of Commons, as the fall session is soon set to return.

This poses the more obvious question: what does that mean? 

As I have written previously , prorogation is one of the more interesting parliamentary procedures. In essence, each “session” of Parliament is not unlike a chapter in a book. 

As much as each chapter will have a beginning and an end, so too will a session of Parliament.

Prorogation is officially defined as the ending of a session of Parliament.

In this case, the first session of this Parliament (the 42nd), would come to a close if is officially prorogued by a proclamation of the Governor General at the request of the Prime Minister.

Why request prorogation? 

There can be a number of different reasons, but the most common is that the next session of Parliament would open with a throne speech. Many consider this akin to hitting the reset button as it allows the sitting government to outline a new or different direction.

Considering the next federal election is fast approaching, many believe there is political value in outlining a new agenda, hence the speculation that the House may be prorogued in the near future.

Is it unusual for the house to be prorogued? 

Looking back at previous Parliaments including the last one, there have been only five Parliaments that did not have two or more sessions.

In fact, many Parliaments had three or more sessions with some having as many as five, six and even seven sessions within the duration of an elected Parliament. 

Part of the reason for this is that prior to having a fixed calendar, prorogation was the only way the House could adjourn for a period of time.

One other interesting aspect of prorogation is that it can be used at the discretion of government without the consent of the opposition (that would normally be required to adjourn the House). 

Because prorogation is a tool of government that does not require the consent of the opposition, it tends to be quite heavily opposed when it is used because it allows the government to defer debate or change the channel onto a different subject. 

I do not often engage in speculation, however, I believe this session of the House will likely end up being prorogued. 

My question this week now that you know more about prorogation is: 

  • Do you think it is an acceptable political tool for the government to use?


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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