By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 0 Comments
Tim Harper notes the eerie silence around the nation’s legislatures.
Anecdotally, it appears Canadians don’t much care about this and that’s why leaders feel they can get away with it. Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought prorogation back into the vernacular and was re-elected with a majority in 2011. Anyone who spends any time in Ottawa knows that too much time is wasted here on picayune partisan posturing and MPs do have responsibilities in their constituencies. But these 1,066 men and women are elected to represent our interests in a Parliamentary forum…
Canadians are disengaging from politics. That could be because they rarely see their representatives in action. Or perhaps our politicians are using this disengagement as cover for their empty legislatures. Neither conclusion is good news for those who lament the erosion of democracy in this country.
Tim notes Mark Jarvis’ writing on the BC legislature. Here again is my post on the gradual decline of sitting days for the House of Commons. Ned Franks wrote a paper a few years ago on sitting days and parliamentary productivity and you can download that paper here.
Of course, this isn’t purely a mathematical exercise. It is easier to argue that the House of Commons should be sitting more often if what goes on when it is sitting is widely regarded as meaningful. And so this is a two-part argument: the House would likely be more meaningful if it sat more often and if its proceedings were made more meaningful there would likely be more reason for it to be in session. What goes on when the House is sitting is a problem. Here is what I wrote two years ago. And here is what Ned Franks wrote around the same time. It’s all related to the question I asked then: does this place still matter? I argue it should. But that it doesn’t presently matter as much as it should.
For further reading, here is a list I compiled in putting together my piece in 2011.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, January 21, 2013 at 12:52 PM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons was in session for 129 days in 2012, which makes 2012 the second-most present year for the House since the Conservatives formed government in 2005 (the House sat for 130 days in 2009) and the third-most present year for the House this century (the House sat for 134 days in 2001).
Mind you, between 1968 and 1995, there were 19 years in which the House sat for more than 129 days.
Here are the average sitting days by decade.
1970s. 142.7 (three elections)
1980s. 153.2 (three elections)
1990s. 119.6 (two elections)
2000s. 111.1 (four elections)
2010s. 115.3 (one election)
The calendar for 2013 currently includes 133 sitting days.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 5:57 PM - 48 Comments
Taking a moment from an otherwise pleasant vacation to do some math…
Here is a quickly put-together line graph of sitting days per year for Parliament—as tabulated by the House of Commons website—over the last forty years or so. In case the trend isn’t clear enough, here are the average number of sitting days by decade.
There were three elections in the 70s, three in the 80s, two in the 90s and four in the 00s.
By the previously established schedule for 2010, Parliament will be skipping a total of 22 sitting days as a result of prorogation. If it sticks to the rest of the schedule, Parliament will sit for a total of 114 days in the next year.