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NDP bill would prohibit Ontario premier from shutting down Legislature

NDP candidate Catherine Fife celebrates her provincial by-election win with supporters in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., on Sept. 6, 2012.

Dave Chidley/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The New Democrats want legislative changes to ensure no premier can ever unilaterally shut down parliament as Dalton McGuinty did last fall.

In a bill to be tabled by MPP Catherine Fife Wednesday afternoon, the premier would have to obtain the support of the legislature before asking the lieutenant-governor to prorogue it. The NDP plan would also require the legislature to set an end date for prorogation so MPPs would know from outset how long the shut-down will last.

"This work that we are doing here in this House shouldn't be superseded or interrupted for the purposes of any political party," said Ms. Fife, who conceded such an arrangement does not exist in any other Westminster-style parliament: "This would be historic."

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The NDP bill will require an amendment to the Legislative Assembly Act, she said.

Last October, locked in a labour dispute with the province's teachers and under constant fire in the House over the closing of two gas-fired power plants, Mr. McGuinty abruptly resigned and directed Lieutenant-Governor David Onley to prorogue the legislature. Parliament was suspended indefinitely while the Liberals ran a leadership election to replace Mr. McGuinty.

The move drew fire from the opposition, who accused Mr. McGuinty of abusing prorogation to extract the minority Liberals from a sticky situation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also criticized for twice proroguing parliament: once, in 2008, to avoid an opposition attempt to overthrow his government and again in 2009.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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