New Democrats Push Back Against Suspension of Parliament with Motion
March 18, 2010
OTTAWA – In a powerful speech, NDP Leader Jack Layton denounced Conservative moves to shut down debate by proroguing Parliament.
The government, after promising Canadians a new day in Ottawa, has been less accountable to Parliament than any other in memory. It has ignored motions of Parliament, restricted access to information like never before, and even denied legal parliamentary orders from the House to share documents with members of Parliament that are important to the public interest. Enough is enough.
We must clearly re-establish the basic principles of our democratic system. The principal of ministerial accountability is critical. This means that the Prime Minister must be accountable to Parliament. And being accountable starts with ensuring that the Prime Minister cannot abuse his powers: first and foremost, the power to lock the doors of Parliament and halt the work of those who were elected by the people to represent them and speak for them.
That is the purpose of our motion.
In our democracy the people are in charge. Our Prime Minister appears to have forgotten about that. Their elected Parliament answers to Canadians and the Prime Minister answers to Parliament. It is not the other way around.
Two months ago, thousands of Canadians gathered on the lawn just outside of this place to condemn the latest prorogation. At that rally, we heard from Arlene Plante. She had worked for Nortel for many years. She stands to lose most of her long-term disability income. She said she was going to be destitute, even as these Nortel bosses were giving themselves huge bonuses. We could have done something about that right here in the House of Commons, except the doors were locked by our Prime Minister.
Proroguing Parliament meant that members could not even consider our legislation to protect workers like Arlene who were losing so much in these employer bankruptcies.
Proroguing Parliament meant that we could not hold the government accountable to hundreds of thousands of Canadians who were exhausting their EI benefits and were falling into deep poverty and the welfare trap. We could not hold it accountable to the young people all across Canada who wanted to see Canada play a real leadership role on climate change. They were disappointed with the actions, or non-actions, of our government.
We must ensure that this kind of thing simply cannot happen again. That is what our motion ensures.