He's calling the proroguing of Parliament 'routine', though it's far from it. Chretien prorogued 4 times in 10 years, and only after the legislative agenda was taken care of. Harper has prorogued 4 times in 3 years and left 37 pieces of legislation on the table, meaning they were simply erased.
He also claims that "the most important thing is that the government changed the rules for the Afghan detainee transfer program, and now the focus is the budget."
Sorry buddy, but the most important thing is that it took your party more than a year to change the rules, despite constant complaints.
Harper is suggesting that it is only the opposition parties who keep bringing this up, but unless the military police, the International Red Cross, the U.S. State Department, The Afghan Human Rights Commission, NATO, and Amnesty International, are part of the Opposition, he'd be wrong.
In fact because of his knuckle dragging on the issue, the chief prosecutor of the International Court is now doing his own investigation.
Richards defends PM’s pre-Olympic prorogation
January 6, 2010
By: Rachel Maclean
Proroguing parliament — effectively shutting down the federal House of Commons — is a routine practice, said Conservative Wild Rose MP Blake Richards.
However, the timing is facing intense scrutiny in Ottawa. The federal Conservatives have suspended government until March 3, limiting parliamentary exposure to an ongoing controversy about the treatment of Afghan prisoners handed over to Afghan officials by Canadian troops.
The March date falls just after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which wrap up Feb. 28, allowing the Conservatives to host a worldwide event without having to stickhandle public comments from opposition MPs. (I thought Vancouver and Canadians were hosting the event)
The parliamentary session was supposed to resume Jan. 25. While the minority Conservative government claims proroguing Parliament will let it focus on economic recovery, many opposition members are condemning the move as a way to halt investigations into the transfer of Afghan detainees.
Questions surrounding the controversy exploded after diplomat Richard Colvin reported to the federal government that in 2006 Afghan prisoners were tortured after Canadian soldiers transferred them to Afghan officials, and nothing was done about it. “The decision to prorogue is about one thing and one thing only — avoiding the scrutiny of Parliament at a time when this government is facing tough questions about their conduct in covering up the detainee scandal,” said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff in a Dec. 30 press release.
“By shutting down Parliament four times in just three years, Mr. Harper is showing that his first impulse when he is in trouble is to shut down Parliament.”
It was December 2008 when Harper prorogued Parliament to escape a coalition of Opposition parties from convincing the Governor-General that the Conservatives were unfit to govern.
Richards said he feels if there are still questions about Afghan detainees they will be addressed when Parliament reconvenes. He said the most important thing is that the government changed the rules for the Afghan detainee transfer program, and now the focus is the budget.“Now we can plan for what we are going to do to move forward,” said Richards. “We have a deficit that needs to be addressed.”
He said it allows Conservative MPs to focus on the next phase of the economic action plan, spend more time in their ridings and release a new throne speech and budget in March so Canadians know where they are going.
But Ignatieff said when Prime Minister Stephen Harper was granted permission from Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean to prorogue the house Dec. 30, he was showing a “disregard for the democratic institutions of our country.” Proroguing Parliament means that the parliamentary hearings into the Afghan detainee controversy are suspended.
Opposition members on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan Special Committee had asked to hold special meetings before the session resumed Jan. 25 to interview government members — like Defence Minister Peter MacKay — about what they knew of the torture allegations, but the committee cannot sit during prorogation.
Also, Harper has said he plans to fill five vacant Senate seats as soon as possible — tipping the scale of power in the Senate to the Conservatives. The Conservatives wouldn’t have an absolute majority, but it would give them greater control over newly formed Senate committees.
The makeup of Senate committees changes only when parliamentary sessions end, so by proroguing parliament there is a chance to bust up Liberal-dominated committees.
Proroguing prevents opposition parties from question period criticisms — even during the Olympics. The parliamentary manoeuvre — which has happened 105 times in Canadian history — also kills legislation that has not received Royal Assent. That means bills would have to be reintroduced in the new session. By proroguing, they are effectively killing more than 30 pieces of legislation.
The Conservatives have complained in the past about legislation being slowed down by opposition members, but this puts the brakes on a number of bills. Richards said while it unfortunately kills many pieces of legislation he would like to see go through, it does not affect private members’ bills — like scrapping the long gun registry. He said he has heard from many of his constituents on the long gun registry issue and hopes to see changes soon.
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