Blaine Calkins
Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe

2020-08-08 (August)

Trudeau's Prorogation of Parliament


Last week on Tuesday August 18th Justin Trudeau announced that he was proroguing Parliament. Let me begin by saying that there is nothing inherently bad about prorogation. It can be a useful tool for a government to create a new session of a Parliament and come back with a Throne Speech to outline the next steps on fulfilling their mandate, or to signal a shift in priorities. While it isn’t especially common, the act of prorogation is a procedural tool that can be used effectively and legitimately by a government. The problem in this case is that Justin Trudeau has prorogued Parliament during a global pandemic and economic crisis in order to try and kill investigations into his repeated ethical lapses. When Parliament is prorogued neither the House of Commons or the Senate can conduct business, committees are disbanded, and government bills that haven’t been passed yet die on the order paper and must be either abandoned, reintroduced, or in some cases reinstated.

August 26th was scheduled to be one of the rare opportunities that the Liberals were going to allow for Parliamentarians to ask questions of Ministers since they, with the support of the NDP, shut down regular Parliamentary sittings in May to avoid accountability and oversight during the pandemic. It wasn’t even going to be a proper sitting of the House of Commons, with the full rights, privileges and abilities that Opposition Members would usually have to hold the government to account, but due to the prorogation even that didn’t happen. While we may only be missing one day of Justin Trudeau’s fake Parliament, the Liberals real goal was to disband nearly all committees, including the ones that have been investigating the WE Scandal, until at least late September. It surely isn’t a coincidence that Trudeau decided to prorogue on the same day that thousands of (heavily redacted) documents about the scandal were turned over to members of the Finance Committee. Documents that clearly call into question the validity of the Liberals flimsy defense that WE was independently suggested by the Public Service and only signed off on by the Liberal Cabinet. These documents suggest that Minister’s staff (and in some cases Ministers and now former Ministers) were involved in helping to position WE as the recipients from the outset. It’s no surprise that WE was the top choice – it appears that they were given advanced information by Minister’s and their political staff during the construction of the student grant program. You can view these documents yourself online at www.wedocuments.ca.

This prorogation is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to remove the few remaining tools that opposition MPs have left and further hinder us from uncovering answers for Canadians about what is shaping up to be the biggest corruption scandal since the Sponsorship Scandal. Trudeau and the Liberals hope that hiding for a month will allow them to turn the page on their ethical lapses. If this prorogation was actually about resetting and planning for the future, Trudeau would have prorogued on September 22nd, and returned on September 23rd instead of over a month before the date Parliament was set to resume. At a time when Canadians are looking for stability and leadership, Justin Trudeau has provided chaos and cover-ups. I and my Conservative colleagues are undeterred, and we will continue to fight to hold Justin Trudeau and his government accountable and get the answers that Canadians demand and deserve.
 
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Blaine Calkins - Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe