Inside Politics

UPDATED - ProrogueWatch: PMO Talking Points Explain It All!

Hot off the Langevin listserv, it's a message from our ever-chipper robot friend, Alerte-Info-Alert! Today's message provides Conservative MPs and supporters with a thoughtful, logical explanation for today's snap prorogation

Oh wait, sorry -- no, it doesn't. It explains why prorogation is necessary -- even routine! -- but not why it had to happen now, instead of closer to the date that Parliament was expected to return. It also doesn't use the word 'prorogation':

From: Alerte-Info-Alert <> 
To: Alerte-Info-Alert <> 
Sent: Wed Dec 30 13:25:11 2009
Subject: New Throne Speech / Nouveau discours du Trأ´ne 

Today, the Prime Minister announced that the next phase of our Economic Action Plan will be launched, following the Olympic Games, with a Throne Speech on March 3 and a Budget on March 4.

The call for a new Throne Speech to launch the 3rd Session of the current Parliament is routine. The average Parliament comprises three or four sessions (and three or four Throne Speeches); some Parliaments have heard as many as six or seven Throne Speeches.

This is the 105th time in Canada's history that a new Throne Speech will launch a new session of an existing Parliament.

The economy remains Canadians' top priority and our top priority. The three economic themes of the new session will be: (1) completing implementation of the Economic Action Plan, (2) returning the federal budget to balance once the economy has recovered and (3) building the economy of the future.

Ms Hoeppner's bill to repeal the long-gun registry will be unaffected by the launch of a new session. We will reintroduce in their original form the consumer safety law (Bill C-6) and the anti-drug-crime law (Bill C-15) that the Ignatieff Liberals gutted.

We will seek Opposition agreement to proceed expeditiously with other Government legislation -- particularly laws urgently needed to fight crime -- that the Ignatieff Liberals have blocked and obstructed.

There, now we all know every bit as much about today's announcement as a government backbencher! (I especially like the part where the anonymous composer cheerily informs us that the government will "seek Opposition agreement" right between shots at "the Ignatieff Liberals," which is sure to engender a spirit of bipartisan cooperation over at OLO.) 

UPDATE: Courtesy of Wikipedia, here's a handy list of parliaments past, including session counts. What's not clear is whether any of the six- and seven-session parliaments are analogous to the current state of affairs; the 7th Parliament, for instance, had five different prime ministers, which is why it had six sessions. The 12th Parliament, which had seven sessions, was the also the longest in Canadian history, sitting for over five years due to a wartime extension. 

OKAY, THIS SUDDENLY RENDERS THAT ENTIRE "EVERYBODY PROROGUES!" ARGUMENT RATHER MOOT UPDATE: According to the parliamentary website, which is not, thankfully, prorogued, it wasn't until 1964 that the House could adjourn during a session - even for statutory holidays - without a special motion to do so. 

As a guess, I'd say that's probably why early parliaments were prorogued more frequently. Scheduled sitting days - and the current calendar - are an even more recent development, with the calendar formula being adopted in 1982. 

This compilation is interesting too -- the length of every session since Confederation, including periods of prorogation. 
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