In news that was alarmingly under-reported even in the alternative media, Queen Elizabeth’s Governor General David Johnston approved Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s request to dissolve Parliament on March 26 for the third time in 3 years. The move came after Parliament’s first ever vote of no confidence against Stephen Harper. Elections have been scheduled for May 2.
As the Times Columnist wrote on March 26:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit the Governor General today to dissolve Parliament, setting the stage for a federal election in early May.
The Harper government was defeated in the House of Commons on Friday on a non-confidence motion declaring the government in contempt of Parliament.
It is the first time in Canadian history that a government has been found in contempt.
The governor general alone is also constitutionally mandated to summon parliament. Beyond that, the viceroy carries out the other conventional parliamentary duties in the sovereign’s absence, including reading the Speech From the Throne and proroguing and dissolving parliament.
For those in denial of the Queen’s power over her colony-states, here are previous occurrences:
Canadian PM wins suspension of Parliament
Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren
Dec 4, 2008
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a rare suspension of Parliament on Thursday, managing to avoid being ousted by opposition parties angry over the minority Conservative government’s economic plans and an attempt to cut off party financing.
Governor General Michaelle Jean — the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state — agreed to Harper’s request to shut down Parliament until Jan 26. Parliament was reconvened just weeks ago after the October 14 election.
Proroguing Parliament is ‘routine,’ Tories say
Dec. 31 2009
While opposition parties accuse the Conservative government of avoiding accountability by successfully requesting Parliament be prorogued for the second time in a year, Tory observers insist it’s nothing more than a routine procedure — and that the move will allow the government to return refreshed and re-focused on the economy in 2010.
The last time he asked Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to prorogue Parliament was in December 2008 when he faced the threat of a coalition forming among opposition parties.
Canada’s Rogue Conservatives Prorogue Parliament
This is the second time the ruling party wants to shut down democracy
January 5, 2010
This week during the year’s slowest news period, startling reports from Ottawa have revealed that the Canadian conservative Prime Minster, Stephen Harper has prorogued or postponed the opening of parliament for at least a month. With the governor general’s blessings (who according to parliamentary procedure the authority to close down the legislature) he plans to proceed with this scurrilous plot and thereby undermine parliamentary democracy. If all goes according to Harper’s plan, then the House of Commons which is due to resume its New Year’s session on January 23rd will not sit until March 3rd or after the winter Olympics games to be held in February in Vancouver , B.C.
This Machiavellian move is designed to stave off opposition parties’ call for a full public inquiry, which would centre on the allegations of torture implicating the Canadian military, which surfaced during the last session of the House. On the home front, the prorogation of the legislature would also quell growing discontent in the country with the almost despotic tendencies of the current government. This is not the first time parliament has been shut down either. Back in December, 2008, Canada ’s Governor General Michaelle Jean granted the prime minister’s holiday wish and closed down the house just as the opposition sought to bring down the minority government with a non –confidence vote.
Prior occasions of note:
In 1926, Liberal prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, facing a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons over a scandal in his party, requested that Governor General the Lord Byng of Vimy dissolve parliament and call an election. Byng, however, refused his Canadian prime minister’s advice, citing both the facts that King held the minority of seats in the house and that a general election had been held only months earlier; he thus called on Arthur Meighen to form a government. Within a week however, Meighen’s Conservative government lost its own non-confidence vote, forcing the Governor General to dissolve parliament and call elections that saw Mackenzie King returned to power
In Australia, the House of Representatives was dissolved and the Parliament prorogued on 19 July 2010.
Also in Australia: Although Parliament was regularly prorogued in the past, it has been prorogued without an accompanying dissolution on only four occasions since 1961. Two of these, in 1974 and 1977, were for the purpose of allowing openings of Parliament by the monarch during visits to Australia. On another occasion, in February 1968, Parliament was prorogued following the disappearance in the sea of Prime Minister Harold Holt in December 1967. On the fourth occasion, Parliament met for one day in November 1969 following an election for the House of Representatives on 25 October and was prorogued until the following March.
In March 1993 the government restored the practice, not followed since the 1920s, of proroguing the Parliament before dissolving the House of Representatives for the purpose of a general election.