Until not very long ago, "prorogue" wasn't a four-letter word.
Until Prime Minister Stephen Harper used it to side-step normal democratic procedures in Parliament, prorogation was commonly used to allow the government to take a breather, as it were, to offer time to rethink and re-establish policies and commitments to accomplish new and important objectives. Prorogation has been a staple of the
British-style parliamentary system for centuries. Most Canadian prime ministers before Harper used it to take a break to prepare, for instance, a new Throne Speech
or to reorganize and prepare new cabinet ministers after a significant change to cabinet shuffle - such as the recent shuffle instituted by Harper.
In general, Canadians were mostly unaware of the word, or how it fit into the parliamentary process. Harper used it to save his own political butt: thwarting a no-confidence vote in one case, and to stop questions that threatened to topple his government in another.
No wonder that people who are paying attention are leery of the prime minister's intent to prorogue Parliament once again. He has given all the good reasons for doing so: he wants time to present a new Throne Speech, and to ensure that all of his newly minted cabinet ministers are all up to date on their responsibilities so that the business of government continues smoothly.
But he's also in the middle of the senate minefield - shades of his previous anti-democratic use of that four-letter word.
Fortunately for Harper, most Canadians aren't paying attention as the holiday season transitions into the Backto-School season.
Fortunately for Canadians, NDP and Liberal MPs will have extra time to formulate their senate-scandal questions.
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