IN THE NEWS ~ Suspending Parliament 'deplorable': Julian

Suspending Parliament 'deplorable': Julian
But Prime Minister's Office says move was 'routine'

Christina Myers
Burnaby Now

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A local MP says he won't be taking a "holiday" from his duties despite the unexpected shutdown of Parliament for more than two months.

Peter Julian, the NDP MP for Burnaby-New Westminster, says the decision by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Dec. 30 to prorogue - or suspend - Parliament is "deplorable."

The legislative session was supposed to begin again on Jan. 25, but the move means MPs won't be returning to Ottawa until March 3.

"This is the fourth time he has shut down Parliament in four years. He seems to have a casual disregard for the work of Parliament, and the reality is he's now killing 35 government bills in doing this," Julian told the NOW. "So the only advantage to him is he thinks by killing the inquiry into Afghan prisoners that somehow he can gain a political advantage."

Harper came under fire from the federal Liberals and NDP, who have both said the move is an attempt to muzzle parliamentarians over controversy on the Afghan detainees affair and to allow time to fill several empty Senate seats to create a Tory majority. Proroguing Parliament will disband current committees working on various legislation.

"He certainly is taking the entitlement around the use of government for his own personal means to a new level, and that is deplorable," added Julian. "I know I'll be working very hard in the riding over the next few weeks, and certainly there's lots to do, so I'll be keeping very busy, but I do think it's very unfortunate that the government has shut down Parliament.

We should all be there in Ottawa on Jan. 25 working hard, rather than this extended vacation that the Conservatives seem to want," he said.

However, Harper's spokesperson Dimitri Soudas told media that the suspension of Parliament was a "routine" affair that has happened more than 100 times in the past and that the prime minister sought the suspension to consult with Canadians on the country's economic action plan.

The new session will kick off with a throne speech on March 3 and a presentation of the budget the following day.

In a written statement, Harper said the economy is on its way to recovery.

"Our priority in the new session of Parliament will continue to be rapid and effective implementation of Canada's Economic Action Plan to benefit communities, workers and businesses," he said. "We are already looking ahead to future challenges. These include restoring a balanced budget once our economy is fully recovered and building a strong foundation for our economic future."

But Julian said he felt that Canadians would respond negatively to the prorogation, not see it as a benefit.

"I don't think Canadians will take this lightly. (This Parliament) is not his plaything," he said.

cmyers@burnabynow.com