Another Contempt of Parliament.
Sometimes government not only disappoints me but disgust me. Yesterday it happened again.
The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, announced he will resign as Premier after 14 years as head of the Liberal Party (7 as Premier) and he prorogued Parliament. His resignation is not a great disappointment for me as I do not support his party although he chose a bad time to resign with the Province in bad economic shape and a legislative agenda to complete. This part is disappointing as the work to get done will not get done any time soon.. He does not own all of us an explanation but it seems he owes his party one and possibly an apology for leaving them in the lurch.
The really disgusting thing is that he decided to take a leaf out of the book of contempt of parliament of Stephen Harper, Prime Minister and leader of the federal Conservative Party by proroguing the provincial parliament. until the Liberal Party selects a new leader, even though he will remain Premier until a new leader is selected.
When a parliament is prorogued it shuts down all legislative activity: the sitting and functioning of the legislature and the function of all committees of the the legislature. Legislation in progress and being considered is stopped and will have to be redone when parliament resumes.
Prorogation is a governmental procedure meant to be used after a government and implemented it program of legislation and needs time to put together another program to present to parliament. This does not require a government to call an election and seek a mandate from the people. It is rarely used.
In recent years it has been used for reasons other than for what it was intended to be used . It has been used twice by the Harper Government to avoid the embarrassing debate over the treatment of Afghan prisoners who were the responsibility of the Canadian military. and when the two opposition parties threatened to form a coalition, defeat his minority party and take over the government. In other words, prorogation was used to avoid a situation that threatened the government. This is not how prorogation was supposed to be used. When Canadians elect a minority government they expect the members of parliament to make it work) Harper and McGuinty don't get this. I am sorry Government General Michaelle Jean agreed to prorogue parliament on the advice of Harper. This was an act of contempt of Parliament, used twice to frustrate the role of parliament in our democratic system.
Premier McGuinty has now imitated Stephen Harper's less than honourable maneuver. His reason was stated to allow the Liberals to go about the business of getting a new leader and to allow the government the opportunity to negotiate a wage freeze with the public service to help lower the Provincial debt. He feels this can best be done without the annoyance of having to a questioned by the Opposition in Parliament. It certainly could be accomplished with the parliament functioning.
The real reason my be to avoid the fallout of scandals that are threatening the government, particularly the shutting down the building of two gas fired electrical generating plants and relocating them elsewhere in order to help will about six riding for the Liberals where were being impacted by these plants. This has cost the taxpayers of Ontario hundreds of million of dollars ( possibly as much as one billion) in penalties for cancelling contracts. At least one cabinet minister may be found in contempt of Parliament for not releasing all the documentation on these projects, claiming there were no more. The Premier and possibly another cabinet minister might also be charged with misleading parliament.
Also it appeared that the minority government could fall with neither the Conservative of New Democrat willing to support the new budget. To avoid defeat and having to call an election the Parliament was prorogued well before the governments legislative program had been completed.
This maneuver kept the Liberal Party in power until a new leader is found.
Prorogation has once again been used for the advantage of the party in power and not in a way to serve parliament. At the same time it costs the taxpayer a lot of money of wasted time and effort working on legislation in the past year and in the next six months it will take for the Liberals for elect a new leader and the government to have a new Premier.
I believe the Lieutenant Governor (the Honourable David C. Onley) could recall parliament at any time. Usually, this is done on the advice of the Premier. In this extraordinary instance, so contemptuous of parliament, he could use his prerogative and recall parliament. If the Liberals do not want to be the government they should step aside and let one of the other parties form the government, or call an election. We need a functioning Provincial government.