Tuesday, September 3, 2013
OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch launched a national petition on Change.org calling for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to open Parliament on September 16th, as scheduled, and for all parties to work together to pass laws restricting the use of prorogation.
“The shut down by Prime Minister Stephen Harper until October of this year, past prorogations by Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Chretien and some premiers, and the recent shutdowns of provincial legislatures by B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale, and former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty make it clear that new rules are needed across Canada to ensure fairness and democratic accountability in the opening and shutting down of legislatures,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
In early 2010, more than 220,000 Canadians joined a Facebook group against the prorogation of the federal Parliament by Prime Minister Harper, and more than 20,000 protested in demonstrations across the country, but federal opposition parties failed to respond to this broad-based call to work together during the minority government situation to change the Parliament of Canada Act to set rules on the opening and closing of Parliament.
In most countries in the world, including the parliamentary democracies of Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the constitution or written constitutional conventions or laws govern when the legislature opens and closes, not the whims of the ruling party leader. A survey of more than 2,000 Canadians commissioned by Your Canada, Your Constitution in December 2012 showed that 84% want such clear, written rules established in Canada, enforced by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Democracy Watch is calling on Canadians to sign the petition calling for Prime Minister Harper to open Parliament as scheduled and for federal politicians to pass a clear and specific law regarding prorogations including the following:
- only allowing the Prime Minister alone to prorogue when the legislature is already adjourned, and only for the adjournment time period.
- requiring approval of 2/3 of MPs in the House of Commons before a prorogation can happen when the House is open.
- limiting the length of prorogation to a maximum of 2 weeks.
- requiring that the legislature be opened within 30 days after each election.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch’s Change.Org Petition