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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in earlier days: Both leaders have drawn criticism for abusing prorogation. (REUTERS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in earlier days: Both leaders have drawn criticism for abusing prorogation. (REUTERS)

What readers think

Oct. 19: Democracy dismantled, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Democracy’s distress

The problem with prorogation is that where one has shown the way, others will be ready to follow, until political leaderships realize that they can happily live without a legislature (Prorogation An Abuse Of Power – editorial, Oct. 18).

It took the parliamentary system some 350 years to get from Oliver Cromwell to this, and we may justly ask ourselves: For what?

Eric Morse, Toronto

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Your editorial is absolutely right: Dalton McGuinty clearly abused his powers as Premier in seeking the Lieutenant-Governor's approval to prorogue the Ontario legislature.

Much more to the point is how such abuses can be prevented in the future, at the federal and provincial levels. One solution would be the adoption of legislation regulating the use of the prorogation power and, among other things, requiring the lieutenant-governor or governor-general (depending on the level of government seeking prorogation) to consult constitutional experts before granting a prorogation request, to ensure it is not being abused.

It is surely anomalous that, while the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms carefully regulates most aspects of the exercise of federal and provincial powers affecting Canadians, one of the most fundamental aspects – the role of parliamentary government – remains largely unprotected.

Jacob Ziegel, professor of law emeritus, University of Toronto

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Dalton McGuinty didn’t prorogue the legislature, David Onley did. As Lieutenant-Governor, only he carries that power. On Monday, in secret, he failed to protect us. His job is to divert the benighted designs of cynical politicians, not to enable them. So responsibility for this travesty is his. And his only.

Peter Ferguson, Kimberley, Ont.

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Before waxing too indignant about Dalton McGuinty’s proroguing the Ontario Legislature while his party seeks a new leader, The Globe ought to consider how, in a parliamentary system, a ruling party conducts a leadership race while trying to conduct the legislative business with a minority government.

If the opposition parties – and they likely would – were to combine in the legislature to defeat a government headed by a premier who is in the process of leaving office, as Mr. McGuinty now is, who would lead the Liberals in in the ensuing election?

Prorogation was the only means available to Mr. McGuinty to ensure an orderly transition of power in a minority government. He used it, and in so doing, he upheld democracy, he did not undermine it.

James Rusk, Toronto

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Why will it take up to six months to choose an Ontario Liberal leader, depriving Ontarians of a functioning legislature in the interim, when entire general elections, both provincial and federal, can be carried out with as little as four or five weeks’ notice?

Michael Farrell, Oakville, Ont.

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It’s all very well for the media to get huffy about prorogation of federal and provincial parliaments. But the media is in some part responsible. Parliaments became the circus that they are when the media came in with its cameras. Question Period has become a grandstanding event, one that is hugely unpleasant for many parliamentarians.

How many excellent aspirants for public office don’t run because they don’t want to endure the daily nastiness? Parliamentary rules should be changed to reflect those that we often see in the courts: sketch-artist renderings and text narrative of the proceedings, but no audio or video recordings. This would offer a reasonable balance between our obsessive need-to-know (and see) and good governance.

Allison Smith, Ottawa

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Up to date score on prorogation: Stephen Harper, 2; Dalton McGuinty, 1; Christy Clark, 1. If you took an unscheduled leave from your job, would you expect to be paid?

Douglas O’Doherty, Guelph, Ont.

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Safety’s black eye

Re XL Foods Hands Off Troubled Plant (Oct. 18): This is a black eye and humiliation for Canada’s meat industry. From many years of experience in the meat industry, I know that one person, two, or even a few in a company cannot manage and execute a food-safety program by themselves. A food-safety culture requires that all employees be engaged, empowered and have an adequate level of knowledge.

Just adding more inspectors will not improve food safety. The whole meat supply chain (it’s also true for other food commodities) has a responsibility to produce, process and sell safe food. While it’s easy to blame the government and point fingers at other groups, all the inputs in the supply chain (including labour) have to bear some degree of responsibility for food safety. We have to work together to develop programs and solve problems.

It is embarrassing to me that we do not have the knowledge, skill set, experience, fortitude and culture as an industry to successfully manage food safety programs in some of our Canadian-owned food plants. We have to turn to foreign resources to bail us out.

Ron Usborne, Guelph, Ont.

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Electoral blinders

I prefer Barack Obama’s vagueness to Mitt Romney’s promises to create 12 million new jobs because of his experience in the private sector (Obama’s Vagueness Looks Complacent – editorial, Oct. 18). His history of job creation there is murky at best. As David Stockton, Ronald Reagan’s budget director, recently pointed out, four of the 10 biggest sources of revenue for Bain Capital, Mr. Romey’s private equity firm, went bankrupt.

Mr. Romney’s claim to be able to create jobs – itself at odds with his claim that government does not create jobs – is akin to the bear claiming that, because of his experience with bee hives, he knows how to make honey.

Steve Iscoe, Kingston

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Electoral binders

In the past, it was a Chinese custom to bind women’s feet. It appears that Mitt Romney has extended this practice to binding the entire woman, and doing so in bulk (Romney’s ‘Binders’ Comment Goes Viral – Oct. 18). Could this be Fifty Shades of Grey Flannel?

Victor Emerson, Ottawa

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There was an old woman who lived in a binder,

She had so many children that no one could find her.

Along came Mitt Romney who gave her a post,

She moved to the cabinet and nightly made roast.

Basia Pakula and Laura Blackadar, Vancouver

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Settling the score

I understand that a cash-strapped soccer team would get sponsorship from a brothel (Desperate Times Call For Desperate Pleasures – Oct. 18). After all, if you want to score, go where the money is. But pink outfits? Really?

Marty Cutler, Toronto

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Who is sponsoring the women’s soccer team?

Len Weinberg, Winnipeg

 

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