Dan Albas

COLUMN: Why prorogue parliament?

The most common reason is for the government to outline a new or different direction

As you may have heard this week the prime minister asked the governor general to prorogue the House of Commons.

What does this mean?

Prorogation is a parliamentary procedure where the current session of parliament is ended.

This is done by a proclamation of the governor general, at the request of the prime minister.

What happens next?

The prime minister announced the date that the second session of the 43rd Parliament will begin is set for Wednesday, Sept. 23.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: COVID-19 contact tracing app offers innovative approach

READ ALSO: COLUMN: A problem with the WE charity

There will be a throne speech, as is the custom of a new session of parliament, and ultimately a confidence vote following that throne speech. In a minority parliament, that could potentially result in an election.

Why request prorogation?

Although there can be a variety of different reasons, the most common is for the government to outline a new or different direction.

Certainly, that is what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated in this case.

While it makes sense that the government would want to outline a new direction in a throne speech, there is one other serious consideration that cannot be ignored.

With the exception of a one day sitting of the COVID-19 Committee next Wednesday Aug. 26, the House of Commons was already adjourned until Monday, Sept. 21.

So why prorogue the House of Commons when it is already adjourned?

The answer is the fact that several parliamentary committees were sitting and hearing evidence on the details that resulted in WE Charity foundation receiving a sole-sourced contract in excess of $500 million.

Having read much of the evidence from these meetings, a clear pattern was emerging where details from witnesses would directly contradict what the Prime Minister had previously and publicly stated on the record.

As one example, the prime minister stated that when he first heard of the proposed WE Charity’s contribution agreement on May 8, he “pushed back” and instructed the public service to do more “due diligence” before cabinet actually approved the agreement on May 28.

However, at the finance committee, the assistant deputy minister developing the program stated that “We entered into a negotiation of a contribution agreement with WE Charity in mid-May.”

Clearly there was no evidence of any “push back” as the prime minister stated but rather there was a rush to get the sole-sourced contract completed.

Now that the prime minister has prorogued parliament, “no committee can sit during a prorogation.”

This means that the prime minister has shut down the very committees who were studying and uncovering evidence on the WE contribution agreement that was contrary what the prime minister had said publicly.

It should also be pointed out that in 2015, the prime minister made a promise that his Liberal government would never use prorogation to escape scrutiny.

My question this week: Do you agree with the Prime Minister proroguing parliament and shutting down these committees?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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