A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is anybody Listening

Recently Jennifer over at Runesmith asked the question If a democracy falls in the summer, does anybody hear it? Which got me to thinking how many days exactly have we been without the opposition having the opportunity to challenge the government? How many days have the MSM also taken the opportunity to exit the Ottawa halls and not report on the daily shenanigans by our government? How many day have our parliamentarians actually been on the job in parliament over the last few years? Not just the current one but previous ones also.

Fortunately the Parliament of Canada web site has all the answers and of late they are not encouraging, even given that our MPs are, at least in part, “working in the riding” it is a pretty sad reflection upon our democratic system when in some cases only 30% of the time (on average!) is actually spent “on the business of government”. Be assured that nothing comes to a stop when out MPs are not in the House, the executive branch of government carries on as usual, our bureaucrats and civil servants carry on as usual, it is just that no one is checking up on them. No one other that the executive branch of government that is!

So anyway here are the numbers, make what you like of them, but this is NOT spin but FACT right from the Parliament of Canada web site which is a very good resource of factual information on anything to do with our governance.

The 39th and 40th sessions of parliament under the Conservative Party of Canada started on 03/04/06 (elected 23/01/06) and if we assume they will be in power until parliament is recalled in the fall will have been in power for (about) 1240 days, actual days the House of commons has sat is given as 384 days or about 30% of the time!

For comparison and fairness the two preceding sessions, the 37th and 38th parliament under the Liberal Party of Canada started on 29/01/01 (elected 27/11/2000) and lasted approximately 1760 days and sat for 1277 days or about 73% of the time!

NOTE – See update below!

The difference between the time the government was in power and the number of days sitting includes one election period for the Cons and two for the Libs (they are still in power during the election period), summer recess and other “holidays” and periods when parliament was prorogued. Even although I try hard to be non partisan as much as possible on these pages I am struck by the remarkable difference between these two governments. As a defender of democracy I have to ask the question “is our democracy well served by a parliament that is only in session 30% of the time” (actually considerably less in 2008)? Who is defending our democracy when the executive branch of government is running the country for extended periods of time without any restraints?

The raw figures may be seen here, do your own calculations, perhaps I have made a mistake, I truly hope so, but this is not encouraging!!

UPDATE – Impolitical has pointed out that I am indeed in error on these numbers sitting days for the 37th & 38th sessions is 568 days NOT 1277 (was that wishful thinking?) days thus giving the Liberal Government a similar dismal showing as to the number of days actually accountable and available to our representatives of other partys. The point still stands we are being run by the executive branch of government with little or no oversight for nearly 70% of the time. Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Ms. M said...

Ok, that's really freaky!

NL-ExPatriate said...

Fiddling while Rome burns is how I refer to it.

But never mind as long as the auto industry gets bailed out all is good right?