Goin’ Prorogue

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Harper Brings Politics to a Complete Standstill

The hot-button issue coming out of parliament in Ottawa is, well, that there is nothing to come out of Ottawa for a long time. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called an extended winter vacation for federal politicians. Their tentative date sets federal politicians to return to Ottawa right after they’re done watching the gold medal hockey game – the end of February.

Now this is not an uncommon thing, for Harper or any other Prime Minister. In our relatively youthful nation, we’ve had 105 proroguings of parliament. Quick-witted mathies will tell you that’s about once every year, and many Tory supporters claim that Canadians should be used to the notion of proroguing parliament. Liberal iron-man Prime Minister Jean Chrétien halted parliament 4 times in his ten-year term. However, this time it’s raising the hackles of people on all sides of the political spectrum, for various reasons.

Harper is no stranger to closing down the federal government. Non-goldfish can remember last year when Harper was faced with strong notions of a coalition forming from the other 3 parties, he shut down parliament in order for the talks to simmer down. With it, he left over 30 open bills without resolution that will have to be completely restarted in the new session. One of the bills included a motion to look into Canada’s handling of Afghani detainees, after there were alleged torture claims from many people being held in Canada’s care. BC-interior Conservative member Stevin Hill told many news outlets that “many Canadians do not care about allegations of torture,” an odd statement seeing how prior to prorogation there were articles running nearly every day in almost all major newspapers. A Harris-Decima Poll has around 70% of all people surveyed stating that they believe it would be wrong of Canada if they knowingly gave detainees away to be tortured, implying that many Canadians are very concerned with the government’s involvement in Afghanistan. However, with the news groups printing new articles revolving Harper’s Afghan dodge, it seems that Canada will not let this one blow over. A small victory for one of the bills on the table however; in one of my previous articles, I mentioned how Harper was putting bill C-15 on the table. This bill was put up as a ‘tough on crime’ bill, and included mandatory jail time for possession of small amounts of drugs, including marijuana. This bill, which was almost on the edges of being passed, will have to “go back to GO, without collecting $200”. Hopefully the bill could get shut down this time around.

Always the greatest gauge of knowledge, the Facebook group Canadians against Proroguing Parliament has member numbers nearing 200 000 people. While Facebook might not be a strong driving force for change, it does show that there is a sizeable chunk of young adults, often the most underrepresented political demographic, showing an interest in Canadian politics. This is a good indication that more and more nonvoters are taking an interest in politics, and as a result there may be a little more variability if there would be an election called in the near future. Rumour mills are claiming that we may see an election in the springtime, if Harper hasn’t quelled a lot of the vocal dissent.

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