MP Wilks explains the prorogation

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week he intends to prorogue parliament and deliver a new throne speech later this fall.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week he intends to prorogue parliament and deliver a new throne speech later this fall. The move has come under some scrutiny since the Harper Government chose to prorogue parliament in both 2008 and 2009.

Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament David Wilks said that prorogation of parliament is nothing out of the ordinary.

“It’s not unusual for a majority government to prorogue halfway through their mandate,” Wilks, who is a member of the Conservative party, said.  “That is normally because they fulfilled their obligation in the first two years of completing what they wanted to get done.”

Wilks noted that there have been 146 prorogations since 1867, which amounts to an average of almost one per year.  Prorogation is the end of a parliamentary session.

“It’s not uncommon and it becomes common with majority governments no matter what the stripe,” he said.

“Basically, what it allows the Prime Minister and cabinet to do is reset the switch and bring forward a new set of opportunities that they want to move forward with.”

Wilks said, as he understood it from the prime minister’s office, of the 121 things that the prime minister wanted to get done in the 2011 Speech to the Throne, 91 of them have been completed.

“(The prime minister) wants to bring forward new opportunities for the government to work on and to be able to do that he needs to bring forward a speech from the throne,” he said.

Wilks anticipated the government will reconvene in October and he will be going back to Ottawa shortly after Thanksgiving

“And then we’ll be back at it again,” he said.

When then Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, granted the 2008 prorogation by the Harper Government, which helped to avoid a non-confidence vote by a Liberal, New Democrat and Québécois coalition, she created two new conditions that set a precedent for future prorogations: parliament had to be reconvened soon after a prorogation and parliament would present a proposed budget, which would be a confidence matter.

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