Weekly MP report from Jay Hill

Submitted by M.P. Jay Hill

Really, I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Yet the purpose of the “MP Report” is to “report” to you on the issues facing the nation and Parliament. And so …

Under House of Commons rules, the NDP get just ONE “supply” day prior to March 31st to determine the subject of debate. This week, with all of the pressing challenges facing our nation today, such as the economy and jobs, the “urgent, high-priority” issue that Jack Layton chose to debate on his one supply day was…prorogation.

I was disappointed to witness precious time in the House wasted on a long-standing, routine process used over and over again by all political parties in the federal, as well as provincial legislatures across the country.

However, it was at least an opportunity to clear up some myths circulating about the issue.

Myth: The use of prorogation is unusual and infrequent.

Fact: It is a routine, constitutionally legitimate process that has occurred on 105 occasions in the 143 years of our nation’s history. On average, there have been three or four Throne Speeches launching a new session per Parliament. Some with six or seven Throne Speeches. Former Prime Minister Trudeau prorogued parliament three times in BOTH the 28th and 30th Parliaments. Former NDP Premier-turned-federal Liberal MP Bob Rae was named “King of Prorogation” by the press.

Myth: The Second Session of the 40th Parliament was short.

Fact: Parliamentary sessions have, on average, lasted roughly one year. The average number of sitting days per session is 109 days. There were 128 sitting days in this last session.

Myth: This prorogation resulted in a great deal of lost time in the House.

Fact: In Parliaments where prorogation has occurred since the 33rd Parliament, days lost have averaged about 20 days. The number of sitting days lost during this most recent prorogation would have been 22 days but we reduced it to just 12 days lost by eliminating two break weeks. Former Prime Minister Chrétien lost 25 days when he prorogued Parliament for the second time in the 27th Parliament.

Myth: The Government can avoid accountability to the House of Commons and to the people of Canada through prorogation.

Fact: A new session must start with a Speech from the Throne, through which the Opposition can voice its lack of confidence in the Government and ultimately defeat it. To top that off, in the last two sessions, our Government has immediately tabled a federal budget, also subject to confidence votes.

The NDP are not alone in their hypocrisy on this issue. As a national newspaper columnist pointed out, just eight sitting days after declaring Parliament too pivotal to prorogue, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff embarked on a week-long national tour and a third of his caucus didn’t bother to show up to work in the House.

The opposition parties’ attempts to gain political favour with Canadians by circulating myths about a long-standing parliamentary procedure have failed.

That’s because Canadians want their MPs and their government to focus on issues that matter…REAL polices that support our economy, create jobs and secure the safety, security and prosperity of Canadians now and in the future.

And that is what our Conservative Government will continue to do!

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