Friday, January 22, 2010

On Canadian Parliament Proroguement

Following the tertiary discussion in one of our seminar groups on Canada's parliamentray system (as a part of our unique national identity) and its element of proroguement, there is this data, which I did not previously know and parts of which I found somewhat surprising, from today's online Toronto Globe and Mail:
"The Prorogue Score

Compared to a few Liberal PM's, Stephen Harper is a proroguing amateur.
Chretien 4, Harper 2.

35th Parliament Chretien 1996/2/2
36th Parliament 1999/9/18
37th Parliament 2002/9/16,2003/11/12 ...

And if you really want a lopsided score how about this one:

Trudeau 11, Harper 2

26th Parliament Trudeau 1963/12/21,1965/4/3
27th Parliament Trudeau 1967/5/8
28th Parliament Trudeau 1969/10/22,1970/10/7,1972/2/16
29th Parliament Trudeau 1974/2/26
30th Parliament Trudeau 1976/10/12,1977/10/17,1978/10/10,1983/11/30

....why are these numbers not front and center in the multitude of MSM stories on the topic?...

In our 143 years of existence as Canada, Parliament has been prorogued 105 average of about once every 1.4 years that this, very legal and constitutionally granted power, has been used."
The 105 number surprised me... and Mr. Trudeau's 11 time use.


Adam Nowek said...

Ah, the Globe and Mail. The bastion of balanced journalism.

Trudeau was in power for sixteen years, and prorogued parliament eleven times. That is an average of 0.6875 prorogues per year.

Harper, on the other hand, has been in power for (almost) four years now, proroguing parliament twice. That would be an average of 0.5 prorogues per year.

While Trudeau certainly abused the institution more often than Harper has in his time as Prime Minister, I think this article is merely a case of creative statistics. 11 to 2 is a noticeable difference: 0.6875 to 0.5 is not.

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Your argument is that Mr. Trudeau prorogued parliament slightly more than Mr. Harper has (or, statistically speaking, essentially the same amount.)?

If that is your argument, I believe that that is the main point that the comment in the Toronto Globe and Mail is making: that the current proroguement is simply how Canadian politics have long been done; and the reactions to are to be understood as the ordinary give-and-take of partisanship.

Adam Nowek said...

To follow up on our intense agreement today, just a minor comment:

I think the greater issue is not whether or not Mr. Harper is proroguing parliament (though there are quite legitimate concerns against his use of the institution, considering the political expediency that it appears to have granted vis-a-vis the Afghan detainee issue). The issue is that this focus on comparing various statistics is irrelevant: to ignore the actual context of each instance of proroguing is the fatal flaw.