By Letter to the Editor on July 15, 2020.
Dear Ms. Rachael Harder, MP:
I delighted in your “Happy Canada Day” flyer and positive message about celebrating Canada Day. However, I was surprised by your negativity around the suspension of Parliament and insistence that Parliament meet in person during this continuing COVID-19 crisis. I would think that the federal government should continue to work remotely, use digital communications to set an example and encourage the distancing that is needed in order to work through this pandemic.
How soon you may have forgotten the Stephen Harper’s Conservatives’ prorogation of Parliament not once, but twice. The first prorogation happened in 2008 during one of the worst financial crises since the 1929 stock market crash. It is speculated the Conservative minority government feared a non-confidence vote as well as questions regarding Afghan detainees at that time.
The second prorogation by Stephen Harper happened in late 2009 because of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It is shameful that a sporting event should trump democratic process.
Our first prime minister – Sir John A. McDonald – also used prorogation in 1873 and did so for the nefarious purpose of avoiding allegations of conflict of interest and corruption regarding the Pacific Railway.
Yes, I agree our parliamentary process is an important pillar of our democracy. You can access an annual calendar compilation of parliament sitting days at https://www.ourcommons.ca/en/sitting-calendar/2020. Excluding election years, the previous Conservative government averaged 116 sitting parliament days per year (2007-14) while the Liberal government averaged 122 days per year 2016 to 2018. The 93-day sitting in 2008 during the world economic crisis is dismal compared with the projected 87-day sitting in 2020 in the midst of this world’s pandemic.