As you can tell, I’ve been reading Peter Aucoin et al’s book, Democratizing the Constitution, over the summer and have really enjoyed it. Like any good book, it provokes important discussion and debate.
One of the strengths of the book is its analysis of prorogation, a most welcome and timely analysis given the events in Canada over the last four years.
On page 224, they write:
“several prime ministers, in both minority and majority situations, have taken advantage of the prerogative power to prorogue the House of Commons in order to escape its scrutiny. To address this problem, we propose that prorogations of the House of Commons happen only with the consent of the House of Commons and, specifically, with the support of a supermajority of two-thirds of members. The supermajority is necessary to project the ability of the House to effectively scrutinize majority government even when it might be embarrassing or damaging to the government, because a simple majority threshold that would be effective during a minority government could be met with support from the governing party caucus alone.”
I think it’s worth considering giving Parliament an enhanced role in determining when a government can prorogue Parliament. However, I’m not convinced that a prorogation vote should require a two-thirds majority vote in the House. If a non-confidence vote (and every other vote in the House) requires 50%+1 to be successful, then it seems logical that the same rule should apply to prorogation votes.
Still, the ideas in the book about prorogation are valuable contributions to public debate and should be read widely and discussed.