Alistair MacGregor column: Prorogation of Parliament deeply disappointing

The work of Members of Parliament has been sidelined

On Aug. 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he had asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until Sept. 23, when a new Speech from the Throne will be read. This is a cynical, deeply disappointing, and irresponsible decision made by the Liberal government. Prorogation is essentially a reset, and its use results in all Parliamentary business, including committees probing the WE Charity matter, bills on the Order Paper, and scheduled sittings of the House of Commons, being suspended.

Instead of working with the Opposition to find solutions to issues such as the transition from CERB to EI, the lack of available and affordable childcare, and the ongoing social and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, the work of Members of Parliament has been sidelined so that the Liberals can attempt some form of damage control in the wake of the WE scandal. Multiple standing committees, including the Agriculture Committee, of which I am a member, were in the midst of important work looking into how COVID-19 has affected different sectors of our society and economy, and their work has now ground to a complete halt for the next five weeks as a result of the prime minister’s decision.

Canadians have been and are struggling in this pandemic, and many are worried about keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table. They deserve a government that is committed to focusing on and working to deliver the help that people across the country need — not one that hides when they’re caught working for their well-connected friends. Canadians also deserve to have opposition parties using all parliamentary tools at their disposal to further the work of oversight and accountability.

Prorogation is not a solution. Its use five weeks out from the expected return of the House of Commons is clearly an attempt to change the channel while the Liberals wait for the fallout of their latest scandal to conclude, and it goes against their 2015 campaign promise to “not use prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances.” Our nation remains in the midst of a pandemic, with millions of Canadians on CERB unsure of how they will pay the bills next month, all of whom are in desperate need of support from their elected representatives.

The Liberals have unilaterally removed the parliamentary tools opposition MPs were using to further the needs of our constituents, many of whom are counting on us. We have a duty to support Canadians, especially now, when our country is facing a pandemic and economic crisis. Shutting down Parliament and its committees’ work to avoid yet another scandal is disgraceful, and as a Member of Parliament, I am deeply disappointed in the Liberal government for prioritizing their reputation above our nation’s wellbeing. Canada deserves better.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

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