Defenders of Harper’s three-month prorogation lean heavily on the talking point that Jean Chretien and Pierre Trudeau both used prorogation without provoking a fuss. Contrarian reader C. Leonhardt thinks the analogy is flawed:
Both these prime ministers had a majority in the House when they prorogued Parliament. If their decisions had been challenged, they would have won the vote in the House. Harper’s party does not hold a majority of the seats in the House. He would have lost the vote. To claim that his actions repesent past practice is false. At this point one man controls this country.
The last line overstates things, but the distinction is important. Both times Harper used prorogation to thwart the will of a Parliament whose majority opposed him and his policies.