Skip to main content
politics briefing newsletter


Prorogation, the termination of a session of Parliament to clear the legislative slate and give lawmakers a short break before a new session begins, is a routine part of the parliamentary process. The prime minister seeks it and, most of the time, the Crown grants it. Where it becomes controversial is when a prime minister seeks the break for politically expedient ends – something that Stephen Harper was accused of doing a decade ago when he was in power.

Now Britain, home of the mother of Parliaments, could be about to go through its own prorogation crisis.

With just two months to go before Britain is set to leave the European Union, and with no deal yet in place to manage the terms of that exit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it’s time for Parliament to take a five-week break.

Mr. Johnson today asked the Queen to prorogue the U.K. Parliament during the week of Sept. 9, with parliamentarians set to return only on Oct. 14. On that day, Mr. Johnson said, he would unveil a “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit.” The Queen quickly assented to the request.

Mr. Johnson’s Conservatives hold a minority of seats in the British Parliament, and hold government only with the help of a small set of seats from a Northern Irish party.

Nonetheless, a number of Mr. Johnson’s Conservatives expressed dismay with the use of prorogation, and the fact the legislature lost some of its limited time to figure out Brexit.

And House of Commons Speaker John Bercow – ostensibly the neutral referee of the legislature – said the move was a “constitutional outrage.”

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


Brazil now says it is open to receiving foreign aid to fight the Amazon forest fires, after the country’s President originally rejected help from Group of Seven nations. It is not clear yet whether Brazil will accept its part of Canada’s separate aid package – $15-million and the use of Canadian water bombers – which has been offered to Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay.

The Conservative Party insists that, if they win the election this fall, an Andrew Scheer-led government will not “reopen the abortion debate.” However, the party has not been clear on what it would do if Conservative backbenchers want to bring forward bills on the topic. That issue was a source of tension between Stephen Harper when he was prime minister and some of his backbenchers, who wanted to be free to talk about limits to abortion services in legislation and in the House of Commons.

Rona Ambrose, a former interim leader of the Conservatives and a member of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s multiparty advisory group on renegotiating the North American free trade agreement, says the trade deal talks were handled much better than the "historic humiliation” that Mr. Scheer is characterizing them as.

Members of the Independent Senators Group – most of whom were appointed to the Senate by Mr. Trudeau – say they voted with the governing Liberals 86 per cent of the time because they are respecting the will of the House, not because they are partisan.

Days after the Ontario Liberals lost the provincial election last year, the outgoing cabinet approved enhanced severance packages for two of then-premier Kathleen Wynne’s top aides worth more than $450,000. “Reasonable people will think this is an excessive package and want an explanation,” interim Liberal leader John Fraser said. Ms. Wynne says the payouts were “consistent” with other governments.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government said it is stopping an overall deal with northern Ontario First Nations to develop the Ring of Fire, and will instead pursue agreements with individual nations because, they say, it will be faster.

And Kevin O’Leary, a reality-show businessman and former candidate for the federal Conservative leadership, was involved in a fatal boat crash last weekend. Mr. O’Leary said he is co-operating with police and won’t make any further comments, out of respect for the victims’ families.

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on whether the carbon tax will rise above $50 a tonne after 2022: “I have no idea why [Environment Minister Catherine] McKenna would have said the tax would not go up beyond 2022 when the agreement signed by the provinces (except Saskatchewan) and territories said its future was to be negotiated down the road. She should have said she had misspoken and taken her lumps. But that is not the Liberal way. The Liberal way is to hunker down in the face of adversity and ride out the storm – even if you’re wrong.”

Donald Shribman (The Globe and Mail) on the U.S. President and international co-operation: “For decades, American presidents have stood above other global leaders. Donald Trump stands alone. At the recent Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, the political energy on the pressing matters of the burning Amazon forests, the dying Iran nuclear deal and Russia’s threat to the West, sprang from the French and Canadian leaders – and not from Mr. Trump.”

Rachel Curran (Policy Options) on balancing a budget: “However, despite outlining a moderate and gradual five-year plan to return to balance in its 2019 budget – for which it was roundly criticized by conservative commentators – the Ford [Ontario] government’s exercise in deficit reduction can charitably be termed a political disaster. In less than a year, it has earned a “slash-and-burn” reputation, which is unfair considering it is spending more money overall than the previous Liberal government, a fact lost amid the poor optics of specific program budget adjustments.”

Robyn Urback (CBC) on Quebec’s religious-symbols ban: “In another universe, with a different electoral map (or if, say, this was an Ontario law under Premier Doug Ford), Trudeau would be harping on it at every opportunity, with every minister on board, and with the fury this sort of state-sponsored intolerance demands. And Scheer, for whom freedom from religious discrimination is surely a most important priority, would be too. We cannot look down our noses at the societal divisions in the United States while people in Canada can’t get jobs because of what they wear out of faith.”

Andrew MacDougall (Maclean’s) on the Conservatives’ social policies: “I have absolutely no doubt the Tory braintrust have their finger on the pulse with their message about affordability and helping people get ahead. I just wish Scheer could be more at ease telling people he’s not bigoted toward gay people. Because the lack of comfort is giving the Liberals the room they need to keep the conversation on Trudeau’s one strength, and away from his many, many weaknesses. A little candor from Scheer on the topic would go a long way to introducing him to Canadians.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe