Canada Politics

Prime Minister Harper says he will prorogue Parliament until October

Canada Politics

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Stephen Harper being greeted by locals after arriving in Whitehorse on Sunday

Parliamentarians won't be coming back to Ottawa in mid-September as scheduled.

While touring in Whitehorse — as part of his annual trip to the North — Harper told reporters that he will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament and reconvene the House with a Speech from the Throne in October.

"There will be a new throne speech in the fall. Obviously, the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that," he said according to the Globe and Mail.

"We will come back in October, [that] is our tentative timing.

"We remain in a very difficult, fragile and competitive global marketplace and we think there is much more to be done to secure Canada's economic potential and economic future."

Harper also said that he intends to lead the party into the next election.

[ Related: Canada falling behind Arctic rival Russia as PM begins northern visit ]

As explained by the Parliamentary website, the principal effect of prorogation is a termination of all business.

Members are released from their parliamentary duties until Parliament is next summoned. All unfinished business is dropped from or “dies” on the Order Paper and all committees lose their power to transact business, providing a fresh start for the next session. No committee can sit during a prorogation. Bills which have not received Royal Assent before prorogation are “entirely terminated” and, in order to be proceeded with in the new session, must be reintroduced as if they had never existed.

Harper has prorogued Parliament twice before. The first time was in December 2008 when the opposition parties conspired to oust the Conservatives and form a coalition government. The following year, Harper prorogued in the midst of the Afghan detainees controversy.

While this prorogue doesn't seem to have the same dubious intent, Liberal MP Ralph Goodale argues that the government is, again, trying to get out of a political jam.

"This is about Mr. Harper trying to change the channel because his government is surrounded by ethical scandals and criminal investigations," he told Yahoo! Canada News in a telephone interview.

"I don't think it will work. There will be a new Parliamentary agenda, a new throne speech, a new set of objectives and promises for the future but the reality is that Canadians will still be transfixed on the government that has run seriously a muck when it comes to ethics and integrity.

"The circumstances that are affecting the government half way through its mandate are circumstances that cause Canadians a great deal of concern and quite frankly proroguing to avoid a month of accountability in the House of Commons...is not going to change this channel."

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Prorogation is not uncommon and is often used by governments to reset their agenda.

According to CTV News, Parliament has been prorogued 105 times in its history.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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