After a meeting that lasted around two hours, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean has taken the advice of the Prime Minister, and has prorogued Parliament.
Wow. It’s a bit unprecedented, because what this means is that the Governor General has just become involved in a political decision by giving a sitting Prime Minister a “get out of jail free” card by ensuring that he wouldn’t face a confidence vote. On the one hand, it’s hard to blame Jean, seeing as any Governor General is loathe to be too interventionist. On the other hand, a clear majority of Parliament has expressed non-confidence in writing, so it’s difficult for her to ignore that either. And this does set a very bad precedent for future governments who may wish to use prorogation as their own escape valves when future Parliaments move toward non-confidence.
There also don’t appear to be any conditions attached to this prorogation, which means that the government can go around the next seven weeks making all kinds of ministerial announcements, either re-announcing spending that was already committed in previous budgets, or announcing plans for new spending in the forthcoming budget. Add to that, it gives them seven weeks to ramp up their propaganda machine, so guess what Canada – it’ll be just like we’re back in an election again.
In his statement after he emerged from Rideau Hall, Harper claimed that he was asking for input from the opposition on the opposition, that he backed down on the party funding (when he reiterated his position days later), and most of all, he tried to say that the Bloc has every right to be in Parliament, while still denouncing them. Because wow, alienating Québec is really what you want to do.
Indeed, Duceppe quickly responded to Harper’s announcement, and said that he “denigrated” the votes of all Quebeckers. And let’s continue to fan the flames of a unity crisis.
Layton accused Harper of “Locking the door of Parliament so that elected Parliamentarians can’t speak.” Err, not exactly, but nice attempt at a folksy metaphor.
And Dion, who arrived outside the House after addressing the coalition rally outside, accused Harper of fleeing Parliament. While he said that he would wait to see the budget, he said that it would need monumental changes before they could even consider supporting it. Oh, and by the way, they’re more united than ever about the coalition – so there.
So now we wait for the fallout. And seven weeks of disingenuous statements about the nature of Parliamentary democracy.
The best moment of this morning’s coverage: CBC’s Don Newman calling John Baird on his bullshit. It was hilarious watching Baird unable to justify his party’s positions under the light of truth.