Think Congress Suffers From Inaction? Take a Look at Canada

As snowmaggedon continues to wreak havoc on the Capitol, the House has suspended all votes through Friday. Congress taking an entire snow week is rife with opportunities to mock the government’s uncanny ability to use any and all excuses to justify inaction. One editorial cartoon, a drawing of our nation’s capital blanketed in snow, comes with the tagline: “where every day is a snow day.”

But if you want to talk about really egregious government shutdowns explained with implausible excuses, just take a look at our neighbors to the north (incidentally, this Gaggler's home country): using the Olympics as a partial justification, the Canadian Parliament is in the middle of a two-month shutdown.

For those of you who have gotten behind on your Canadian politics, here’s a basic rundown. Prime Minster Steven Harper, who leads the Conservative Party, was facing a lot of difficult issues: an inquiry over maltreatment of Afghan detainees, economic woes hosting the Olympics. So he announced in December that he was basically shutting down, or proroguing, Parliament until March 3, 2010, the day after the Olympics ends. And, when they come back to session next month, the agenda is basically reset: any bill that was on the table is done and gone away with. This has lead to numerous prorogation protests across the country, despite Canadians being generally known for their politeness. A one-week shutdown due to a massive snowstorm isn’t looking so insane, now is it?

This is the second time that Harper has prorogued Parliament. The last time, in December 2008, he did so “to avoid a no-confidence vote and blunt the threat of an opposition coalition,” according to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.

As a Canadian citizen, I generally don’t like to slam on my native land; I’ll definitely root for Team Canada come this Friday. But in terms of ridiculous government deadlock and partisanship, unfortunately, we have already claimed the gold medal.  

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