04 December 2008

New things I learned today.

Aside from the mildly surprising news that Canada has its own Parliament, I also found out today that apparently the Prime Minister can suspend Parliament in Canada if the wind is blowing a bit too fiercely in his direction.

Can you imagine if George Bush decided to shut down Congress?

I'm generally a fan of parliamentary systems -- I think it's a great concept that more than two parties can win significant representation in the national legislative body -- but seriously, the PM suspending Parliament?

OK, sure it's Canada, but doesn't this action seem a bit Mickey Mouse?


Anonymous said...

Reread the article. The PM doesn't grant temporary suspensions, the Governor General does. The GG determines whether a suspension is justified or not, just like the Queen does in England. Other options include a dissolution of parliament resulting in an election or a transfer of power to a potential coalition.

Disgraced Media Baron said...

The motives may be questionable, but nothing that either the governing party nor the opposition has done in the past week is against the rules of the Canadian Parliamentary system. Sadly, a great many Canadians on both sides of this debate seem to have a profound lack of understanding of how their own governing system works.

It's funny that you use the term "Mickey Mouse", an American icon, to describe this uniquely Canadian situation: many of our electorate think our system is like the American system, where you vote directly for whom you wish to be President. In fact, the responsibility for choosing a Prime Minister falls to the 308 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons (kinda like if your Electoral College and Congress were one and the same), and typically is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House, but if the House loses confidence in the Prime Minister and his or her party then a situation such as last week's could arise, where an M.P. and party leader can be chosen to be Prime Minister even if his or her party does not have the most seats.

"Proroguing" Parliament is a lot different than "suspending". Typically, proroguing is used when the government completes its business early and has no reason to continue a session of Parliament. Its use here might be questionable, but there is a check and balance offered by requiring the Governor General to agree. And technically, this prorogue only delays the House business by one week, for Christmas break is approaching. So the House reconvenes in late January regardless of what the Prime Minister might desire.

Tracy From Canada said...

The truth that other countries need to know is that Canada is now contolled by one man, Stephen Harper. He is a right wing racist who is bent on destroying everything Canadian. He is racist, trying to ban abortion, keep Canada Ultra Conservative by destroying the opposition, take away gay marriage rights, will never get along with Obama, wants women out of the work place... He has complete control of the Country and no one can take his power away. Obama needs to understand this man as extremely dangerous. Many of his tactics are fascist. He runs Canada like a dictatorship. Other democratic countries must isolate Canada. Canada should be expelled from NATO and the UN

Keith said...

You Tracy, are a complete tool.

JES said...

Thanks for bringing this up, cuff -- I'd heard nothing at all about it before.

AND thanks to Anon@8:04pm and Disgraced Media Baron for their clarifications. And, oh, heck, to Tracy for the... the impassioned response.

shoelock said...

I agree with Tracy. PE Obama needs to examine his position on the recognition of the Harper regime. Harper is scheduled to face a confidence vote on approx Jan 27. I think Obama should reserve recogniton of Harper until after the confidence vote. I even started a Facebook Group (my 1st Group, I'm a reluctant social netwoerker, you can tell by my friends list) to support the idea.

cuff said...

I do apologize to my friends up north. I'm always a bit flippant about our noble cousins because I know it cheeses off those of you who think you're an independent country with its own culture. Sorry, there I go again. But I'm glad to hear from those of you who enlightened me to the technicalities of the Canadian government, although to the person who suggested I read the article, well, duh, of course I read the article. That's why I linked to it. So yes Harper the clown has to ask the Governor General, but I'm wondering when the last time was that the GG actually made a decision that had anything to do with the way Canada's government ran. I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the GG functioned like the Queen does in England -- oh, sure, she's the supposed head of the government, but she functions more as a rubber stamp than anything else. To me, it's a bit like saying that the Electoral College actually elects the President of the USA. It may be technically true, but it's really just a rubber stamp that follows the rubric of the popular election in November.