For the past five months the beating heart of our Canadian democracy – the House of Commons – has been largely in a state of suspended animation. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, supported first by the Bloc Quebecois then by the NDP, neutered responsible government and Parliamentary accountability.
Several emergency sittings were held to pass legislation for various COVID-19 emergency funding programs and recently, to correct gaps and shortcomings in the original versions.
Hybrid versions of Question Period and Take Note debates were ponderously tokenistic. The only meaningful elements of accountability occurred in virtual Committee meetings where Opposition members in this minority Parliament were able to challenge Liberal policies and to expose incompetence and scandalous behavior in Liberal funding programs.
The scheduled date for the resumption of full Parliamentary procedures and practices was set for September 21st.
But, with the Liberal Cabinet and Caucus in disarray and chaos, the forced resignation of Finance Minister Morneau has been followed today by the Prime Minister’s shuttering of the House of Commons.
Justin Trudeau is effectively abandoning Canadians in the middle of a major health and economic crisis, in a desperate attempt to lock out Opposition Members of Parliament who have been working hard to fix flawed Liberal pandemic programs, to help Canadians and, to get to the bottom of the ever-widening corruption scandal.
The principal effect of ending a session by prorogation is to terminate business. Members are stripped of Parliamentary duties until summoned to return. All unfinished business “dies” on the Order Paper and all committees lose their authority to assemble to transact business or call witnesses for studies.
Prorogation is a sometimes controversial procedure but it is an accepted procedure in normal times, approved by Governor Generals and Lieutenant Governors for a variety of legitimate reasons by previous federal and provincial governments.
But it is absolutely unconscionable in this time of health and economic crisis. It is reprehensible in the midst of a major corruption scandal.
Responsible, accountable government is essential. In the days, weeks and months ahead I will focus, with our new leader and my Conservative colleagues, on holding the corrupt Trudeau government to account and, at the earliest appropriate opportunity, to replace it.