The federal NDP is holding daily virtual Question Periods on Twitter in which MPs can pose questions they would have put to the Conservative government had Parliament not been prorogued.
Frustrated about being shut out of the House of Commons until the middle of October, New Democrats are “asking those questions on behalf of Canadians that this government seeks to avoid,” NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen told reporters Monday. These are “questions of accountability, questions on our economy, questions on foreign affairs.”
Business in the Commons, which was to have resumed Monday after a three-month summer break, will not begin until Oct. 16 as a result of the prorogation requested by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The extended down time follows a spring in which the Tories were pounded by opposition questions about inappropriate spending in the Senate.
Thomas Mulcair, the NDP Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition, started off the Twitter questions by asking about links between the Prime Minister’s Office and that scandal. Other New Democrat MPs followed with queries on subjects that included household debt, wasteful advertising, and the regulation of railways in the aftermath of the disaster this summer in Lac-Mégantic, Que.
“We know that there are issues that are crying out for consideration by Parliament,” Mr. Mulcair said. “But, instead, we’ve got locked doors, Parliament’s not sitting, and we are not able to ask Stephen Harper to explain some of the very complicated differences between what he told us during the last sitting of Parliament and today.”
The Liberals, under Leader Justin Trudeau, are also demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the delay in Parliament’s return. Liberal MPs will hold caucus meetings in Ottawa this week at which they say they will discuss the economic challenges facing the middle class, the need for greater transparency in Canadian institutions, and other issues, including the war in Syria.
For his part, Mr. Harper spent Monday in Vancouver where he announced new plans to get tough with sex offenders.
When asked about the opposition criticism of the decision to prorogue, Daniel Chomski, a spokesman for Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan, said the government is focused on jobs and the economy. “Our Conservative caucus will return following an active summer working hard in their constituencies with a renewed focus on improving the economy and protecting the security of Canadian families,” Mr. Chomski said.