Limiting the Government’s Power to Prorogue Parliament

Article 4 / 12 , Vol 33 No 2 (Summer)

Limiting the Government’s Power to Prorogue Parliament

Many people feel that Prime Minister Harper’s second minority government abused its power to prorogue Parliament in order to shut down embarrassing activities. The prorogation of December 4, 2008 circumvented a vote of censure scheduled for the following week that might have led to a coalition government taking power. The prorogation of December 30, 2009 dissolved the parliamentary committees. One of these committees was hounding the government about the fate of Afghans taken prisoner by the Canadian military. After the second prorogation, the opposition parties in the Commons suggested limiting the government’s powers of prorogation to prevent future abuses. This article explores how the power to prorogue Parliament could be circumscribed—it would still exist, but with limits on its frequency and the circumstances surrounding its use.