Why this prorogation is different

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.

Curbing the power of the PMO

Talk to almost anyone in the federal civil service, and before long, they’ll bemoan the way Harper has  concentrated power in the Prime Minister’s office. If Pierre Trudeau viewed backbenchers as “nobodies,” Harper appears to lump cabinet ministers and senior civil servants in the same contemptible category.

The Toronto Star’s James Travers recently called for “a saint to roll back all the power hoarded in the PMO.” In today’s Hill Times, W.T. Stanbury, retired professor of Commerce and Business Administration at UBC, proposes seven steps for doing so. Quotes after the jump.

Continue reading Curbing the power of the PMO