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Re: “Breaking the silence, Onley defends prorogation” Letter to the Editor – Toronto Star

January 13, 2013 

The Editors
The Toronto Star
1 Yonge St.
Toronto, Ontario
Dear Sir/Madam
Re: "Breaking the silence, Onley defends prorogation" Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley's portrayal of his vice-regal parliamentary functions as those of a constitutional zombie, unquestioningly acting at the behest of his first minister, is deeply troubling in terms of the integrity of our democratic institutions. While there are well-established constitutional conventions requiring, in normal circumstances, a very high degree of defence to the advice of first ministers on the part of Lieutenant-Governors (and Governors General), the recent events in Ottawa and at Queen's Park have been far from normal. Rather both Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty have carried us into new constitutional territory, taking it upon themselves to dispense with the legislature when it becomes troublesome or inconvenient, by requesting prorogations, not, as is normally the case at the conclusion of legislative sessions when the work of the sitting is done, but in the midst of sessions. This practice threatens to undermine the balance of authority in our constitutional system between executives and legislatures. As such it requires a more robust response from those whose ultimate responsibility it is to safeguard the integrity of that balance.
Yours sincerely,       

Mark S. Winfield, Ph.D.
Associate Professor