On Parliament Hill

Federal Election This Fall?

  • Ted Falk, Author
  • Member of Parliament, Provencher

I have had many constituents ask me, in recent days, about what is happening in Ottawa. How does prorogation work? What exactly is the Throne Speech? What should people expect, and will the Government be brought down?

Back in August, Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament.

Prorogation, simply put, means an abrupt end to a session of Parliament.

The Prime Minister must go to the Governor General and request prorogation. The Governor General grants the request and Parliament is effectively shut down. Any unfinished business remains unfinished. Bills die and must be reintroduced from square one when a new session is called. Parliamentary committees suspend their work. In short, prorogation is a perfectly legal – albeit often frowned upon – parliamentary kill switch.

Many observers believe the Prime Minister chose to prorogue Parliament because it would quickly shut down the multiple Committee investigations into his latest scandal: an opportunity to change the channel from his latest ethical failing.

When MPs return to Ottawa next week, they return to a completely new session of Parliament.

Each new session begins with a Speech from the Throne, where the Governor General reads a speech, prepared by the government, outlining their plans and aspirations for the new session.

Once the speech has been read, one of two things will happen. MP’s must either vote on the speech or the Prime Minister can ask the Governor General to call an election.

Voting on the Throne Speech is a confidence vote. A confidence vote is exactly what it sounds like: Members of Parliament vote to show confidence in the government, or to show they have lost confidence in them.  If the government loses the vote the government falls and we’re into an election.

In a minority situation like we have now, Justin Trudeau needs either the Conservatives, the Bloc Quebecois or the NDP to vote with him.

In this case, the Liberal government has not collaborated or consulted with opposition parties so we are going into the Throne Speech without a clear picture of what the Liberals may propose. Some in the media have speculated that the new Liberal agenda will be radical, with unprecedented levels spending, somewhere in the ballpark of an additional $100 billion of debt. That said, it could all be smoke and mirrors to make their actual proposals seem more palatable.

The Bloc have indicated they will vote against the speech. Conservatives will do our due diligence to determine whether the plan will address the needs of Canadians, but if the Liberals fail to lay out a reasonable agenda it is likely we too will vote against it. That just leaves the NDP.

What is clear is Justin Trudeau is trying to force an election. Justin Trudeau will have to run on his record of corruption, his slow response to COVID-19 and the devastation and debt his policies have wreaked on Canada’s economy. He’d rather go now than in the spring when Canadians will have had the chance to get to know Erin O’Toole and see what a better Prime Minister he will be.

The new Throne Speech will be presented on September 23rd. Whatever happens, we will be ready. Conservatives will be there to stand up for Canadian families and hold Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to account.