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Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue Parliament is a relief for Justin Trudeau and frustrating for Thomas Mulcair.
But sooner or later–sooner, actually–Parliament will return, offering a fresh opportunity for the Leader of the NDP to embarrass the Conservatives over the Senate expenses scandal.
While the Liberals will also be on the attack, their hearts won't be in it. They know that their party risks embarrassment as well.
Mr. Mulcair's complaint that the Prime Minister ended the session in an effort to duck questions on the Senate expenses affair is disingenuous. The Opposition Leader well knows that a mid-term prorogation is routine in the life of any government, especially one that has just gone through a cabinet shuffle.
The one-month delay will give ministers time to master their new portfolios and the government time to craft a Speech from the Throne that will set the agenda for the coming two years.
But Mr. Mulcair's impatience is understandable. The longer Parliament stays dark, the more time Mr. Trudeau gets to do what he does best: tour the country and attract new supporters to the Liberal Party.
Contrary to cliché, however, a month is actually not a long time in politics. And when Parliament returns in October, Mr. Mulcair will be back to doing what he does best: making life miserable for the Prime Minister in Question Period.
Why did Mr. Harper defend Senator Pamela Wallin's travel expenses, when an audit subsequently revealed that the senator had in fact improperly billed the taxpayers for $120,000? Who is going to pay for the audit that uncovered those ill-billed expenses? Exactly who knew exactly what about former chief-of-staff Nigel Wright's decision to pay off Senator Mike Duffy's expenses from his own chequing account?
Mr. Trudeau will doubtless ask the same questions. But he's not nearly as good at it as Mr. Mulcair, a lawyer who excels at prosecutorial examination.
And the Senate expenses affair poses problems for Mr. Trudeau as well as for Mr. Harper. First, there is the matter of closets and skeletons. The Liberal caucus includes 33 senators. Those senators are about to have their books pored over as part of the Auditor General's decision to review the expense accounts of all members of the upper house.
One of the four senators already in trouble is a former Liberal, Mac Harb. If the Tories face the possibility of future damaging revelations, so too do the Grits.
Then there is the question of the Liberal position on Senate reform, which could best be described as – well, it's actually pretty hard to describe.
The government has put forward legislation to have senators elected to fixed terms. If the Supreme Court, which is reviewing the legislation, declares it unconstitutional, Mr. Harper is prepared to consider proposing abolition, which the NDP has been demanding for decades.
The Liberals oppose elected senators, and also oppose abolition. Instead, Mr. Trudeau wants to improve the appointment process. But he has made no effort to spell out how a new process would work. The Liberals risk being tarred by both the Conservatives and the NDP as the do-nothing party on Senate reform.
To be clear: The Senate expenses imbroglio is most damaging to the Conservatives. Three of the senators who are in trouble were appointed by Mr. Harper. It was Mr. Harper's chief of staff who wrote the cheque to Senator Duffy. If the voters are in a mood to punish politicians over this fiasco, the Conservatives will pay the highest price.
But if the Liberals fail to take a clear and convincing position on Senate reform, and/or if more Liberal senators are accused of having fiddled with their books, then Mr. Trudeau may pay a price as well.
Which is why he will be happy to carry on with another month of barbecues and baby-kissing, while Mr. Mulcair chafes for Parliament to be recalled.