Boris Johnson should learn Canada's proroguing lessons - 2019-07-22
This potential crisis echoes a similar event in Canada, a 2008-09 constitutional dispute. The opposition parties, having a majority of seats, intended to defeat the Conservative minority government on a non-confidence motion and establish a minority coalition government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, seeking to ignore the will of the House of Commons, went to Governor-General Michaëlle Jean and asked for prorogation.
Several of Canada's leading constitutional experts, along with Liberal opposition leader Stéphane Dion, who would have been the coalition's putative prime minister, warned that such a prorogation would be a blow to parliamentary democracy. He and other experts warned that granting the prorogation would set a precedent for future abuses of power. After a two-hour-plus meeting between Mr. Harper and Ms. Jean, who also sought advice from a constitutional expert, she granted the prorogation on the condition that Parliament reconvene earlier than usual, on Jan. 26, 2009.
My main opposition to the prorogation in 2008 was that the precedent could also be used to avoid other troublesome issues that a prime minister may face in the House of Commons. That prediction came to pass with Mr. Harper's second undemocratic prorogation on Dec. 30, 2009. That early decision to shut down Parliament was to avoid the continuing scrutiny of a House committee over the transfer of Afghan detainees in Afghanistan.