August 19, 2013 11:54 pm
Updated: August 20, 2013 11:09 am

Harper to prorogue Parliament until October


Prime Minister Stephen Harper will prorogue Parliament until October.

Speaking in Whitehorse on his annual tour of Canada’s North, Harper said he intends to ask the Governor General to prorogue, which means the House of Commons likely won’t resume in September as originally scheduled.

Sources tell Global News to expect the House of Commons to resume after Thanksgiving, which falls on Monday October 14.

The prime minister says most of the promises the Conservatives made in the last election have been fulfilled.

He says the time has come for the government to put forth a new parliamentary agenda.

“There will be a new throne speech in the fall,” Harper said.

“Obviously, the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that. We will come back – October is our tentative timing – and we will obviously have some unfulfilled commitments that we will continue to work on.”

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Global News Watch: political reporter Laura Stone explains why Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants the prorogation of Parliament until October.

Harper says the Conservative government will remained focused on the economy.

Harper was also asked whether he would be leading the Conservatives into the next election, a question that elicited a chuckle from the prime minister.

“The answer to the last question is, of course, yes,” he said, as partisan supporters cheered.

“I’m actually disappointed you feel the need to ask that question.”

Both opposition parties accused Harper of avoiding accountability.

“People aren’t going to be fooled. This is clearly a desperate government worn out by ethical scandals and mismanagement. Stephen Harper refuses to answer legitimate questions from the public,” NDP leader Tom Mulcair said in a statement.

Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale agreed.

“Stephen Harper and his PMO are under fire for several scandals – from the recent Wallin report into potentially fraudulent expenses to the $90,000 cheque in the Wright-Duffy affair – and are obviously keen to avoid questions and scrutiny by Parliament,” said Goodale.

It’s not the first time Harper has used prorogation, a standard parliamentary tool that has the effect of cancelling any legislation that’s still before the House.

In December 2008, Harper prorogued rather than face a vote of non-confidence when his Conservatives held a minority government and the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois were threatening his grip on power.

He prorogued again the following year, halting House of Commons committee hearings into the treatment of Afghan detainees and killing a number of pieces of legislation.

Prorogation jumped into the headlines again last fall when then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, embroiled in a number of scandals, resigned as Liberal leader and called a halt to business at the provincial legislature.

In Ottawa, Senate reform legislation is just one of several government bills that will die on the order paper.

The bill, C-7, was introduced in June 2011. The Conservatives have asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on changes to the upper chamber, including setting term limits and abolition.

Other affected legislation includes changes to the Canada Elections Act to establish new rules for political loans, changes to the not criminally responsible law, and a private member’s bill that would require labour unions to publish detailed financial information.

In the case of the labour union bill, also known as Bill C-377, the library of Parliament says the legislation would be restored to third reading, the last stage completed by the House of Commons.

“Thus, the bill would be sent back to the Senate in the same state it had been when it was passed at third reading by the House in December 2012, prior to the Senate amendment,” the library said in an email.

“The Senate would then begin the process of considering the bill anew; the Senate may vote to pass the bill unamended, amend the bill in precisely the same way it had been amended before, or introduce entirely new amendments.”

© 2013 Shaw Media

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