If you believe that Stephen Harper's prorogations are part of the normal Parliamentary process then read this.
If you believe nobody cares then go here (over 200,000 members and counting).
So why is prorogation the best thing Stephen Harper ever did for Canadian democracy.
Because he may have finally awakened the Canadian public to the role of Parliament and the fact that our Parliamentary democracy is based on the concept of Parliamentary supremacy and the requirement for the government to have the support and confidence of the House of Commons to govern legitimately.
Pierre Trudeau is reported (July 25, 1969) to have said that Members of Parliament are nobodies when they are off Parliament Hill. Stephen Harper seems to believe that they are nobodies when they are sitting in the House of Commons.
In December 2008 Stephen Harper suspended Canadian democracy and through a clever PR campaign managed to convince the Canadian people that a government led by the leader of the party with the most seats (but a minority of seats) in the House was more democratic than a party led by a leader who had the support and confidence of a majority of Members of the House of Commons. It was a situation that left those of us that understood how Parliamentary democracy works shaking our heads.
Since then Stephen Harper has continued to treat Parliament as if it does not matter and with his latest attack on Parliamentary democracy the people have finally seen the light.
Let us step back a bit and talk about the concept of prorogation. There is nothing wrong with prorogation in itself, the problem is how Stephen Harper (with the collusion of the Governor General) is using it. Saying the Liberals prorogued in the past is meaningless. Prorogation is a normal part of the Parliamentary process.
The normal scenario is that a government is elected. They set forward their program in a Throne Speech. the House of Commons passes most of their legislative program over a period of 12-24 months. Historically the length of time required has increased from sessions around a year in length to sessions normally about eighteen months to two years in some cases. It really depends on how well a government can manage it's legislative program. The House of Commons is then prorogued and a new session starts with a new Throne Speech within days.
Prorogation has nothing to do with the House not sitting. The House routinely recesses for over two months during the summer but they remain in session so they can easily be recalled to deal with emergencies and matters of public interest. Indeed often a government finishes its legislative program at the summer break, but they do not prorogue, they return for a day in September or October and prorogue and the new session starts within days.
That is because, up until Stephen Harper (with one exception and he was forced to resign when Parliament resumed), all governments understood that prorogation was not intended to be used to shut down Parliament. That is because, up until Stephen Harper, Canadian governments understood and respected the concept of Parliamentary supremacy. They actually understood and respected the system of Parliamentary government.
Unfortunately, under the current government, we have a Prime Minister, and may I add a Queen's Representative, who do not respect the principle that when there is a conflict between the House of Commons and the Prime Minister, the House of Commons must prevail. Stephen Harper thinks that when that happens Parliament should be shut down.
Fortunately, the people have finally seen the light and my hope is that Stephen Harper's attempt to take their democracy away from them will get them thinking more about the Canadian democratic process.
For Parliamentary democracy to be truly democratic the House of Commons should reflect how Canadians voted. While there are many factors that go into how people vote, including the individual candidates qualifications, abilities and values, the biggest factors are the policies, programs and philosophies of the parties running in the election. The representation in the House of Commons should reflect these factors. For Parliament to be truly democratic the percentage of seats each party receives should reflect the number of votes each party receives, normally referred to as the popular vote.
Our current single member constituency "first past the post" system does not do this.
However there is a system called Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) that allows voters to not only vote for the local Member of Parliament of their choice but also elect a House of Commons whose membership reflects the percentage of votes each party receives in the election.
Indeed, the main criticism of MMP is that we will not get majority governments unless the voters give one party a majority of the votes. That is right, under MMP if voters vote for a minority or coalition government they will get a minority or coalition government. That is the main criticism of MMP - that voters will get what they vote for. That seems to be a rather strange criticism of a democratic process.
It is time to shut down Stephen Harper and it is time to reform our electoral process. It is time for the people to speak.