Prorogation a normal parliamentary device, says Nanaimo MP

NANAIMO - Dr. James Lunney, MP for Nanaimo-Alberni, says prime ministers Chretien and Trudeau also prorogued Parliament.

While people are criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament, the Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni says it’s nothing new.

Federal Conservative MP James Lunney said this is the 126th time that Parliament has been prorogued in 146 years and it isn’t unusual, pointing to the fact Jean Chrétien prorogued Parliament four times during his time as prime minister and Pierre Trudeau, eight times.

He said the current session at 811 sitting days since May 2011 is the third-longest session in Canadian history.

“Prorogation is just a normal parliamentary device. It’s used for resetting the agenda, especially in a four-year Parliament – this will be four-plus from May until October 2015,” said Lunney.

“It’s a normal way to hit the refresh button.

“We’ve accomplished a lot of our legislative agenda and it’s setting a new tone – because the world’s changed a bit in two years – for the next two years of Parliament.”

Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP Member of Parliament, does not share Lunney’s view.

Crowder thinks prorogation is unfortunate given the number of issues that need to be dealt with, including environment, jobs and health care, and said politicians need to be back in Parliament dealing with legislation and proposals to try to address the concerns people have.

“Harper seems to not want to talk about some of the challenges he’s having with his government in terms of transparency and accountability, whether it’s spending scandals or other issues like that, F-35s, the list goes on,” said Crowder.

With the next session expected to take place in mid-October, Crowder said she will be working in her riding, meeting with constituents and attending events like the MS Walk on Sept. 28 and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Vancouver in her role as NDP Aboriginal Affairs critic.

Lunney said he will be looking into a number of infrastructure requests from the riding.

He is also working on health initiatives, including a Vitamin D Day bill, as he said Canadians are not getting enough, which leaves them vulnerable to many illnesses.