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May 15th, 2023

NDP moves to limit the prime minister’s gatekeeping power over Parliament

While Poilievre rails against gatekeepers on Twitter, New Democrats say that he’s coming to Trudeau’s defence instead of taking action

OTTAWA — Last week, NDP critic for Democratic Reform Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood-Transcona) made a bid to limit the prime minister’s gatekeeping powers over parliament by clarifying the rules around confidence votes and giving the House of Commons the opportunity to unseat a prime minister for abusing the power of prorogation.

“In a 21st century democracy, Canadians should be able to trust that the prime minister and the government are focused on delivering on things that matter to them, not on selfishly clinging to power to serve their own interests,” said Blaikie. “And, in our current system of government, the prime minister certainly does hold a lot of power; it’s Parliament’s job is to hold prime ministers to account for how they use it. The prime minister should not have been able to flip Parliament on and off at will, delaying help for Canadians when they need it the most, without having to answer for his actions on the floor of the House of Commons.”

During the first hour of debate, the Bloc Québécois declared support for Blaikie’s motion. The Liberals did not say how they would vote and the Conservatives signaled their intention to vote against Blaikie’s proposal.

“Pierre Poilievre constantly decries the gatekeeping powers of the prime minister, but now that he has a clear opportunity to do something about it, he’s blinked,” said Blaikie. “Canadians should beware of a man who attacks gatekeepers but refuses to put limits on their power, and instead to take that power for himself.

New Democrats understand the threat that abusive gatekeepers – in both the public and the private sector – pose to Canadians’ freedom,” said Blaikie. “There are always problems when particular individuals enjoy too much power and care more about retaining that control than providing solutions to help Canadians get through tough times. That is why we are working to make parliament fairer and more accountable, instead of just handing over these extraordinary powers off to the next person. The good news is that it’s not too late for Pierre Poilievre to change his mind and do the right thing.”

The second hour of debate on Blaikie’s motion, M-79, has not yet been scheduled.