Will the House of Commons be recalled to vote on Syria?

The PMO says it’s premature to discuss
The Peace Tower is framed in an archway on the East Block of Parliament Buildings on Parliament Hil in Ottawa, Thursday September 10, 2009. Opposition MPs, and even some Conservatives, agree Canada’s parliamentary committee system is broken.They just don’t agree on what’s gone wrong or who’s to blame. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

This afternoon I put that question to the Prime Minister’s Office: Will the government seek to recall the House for a vote before proceeding with any intervention in Syria?

In response I was told that, “It is premature to discuss recalling Parliament at this time.”

Even if it is premature to discuss recalling Parliament, it is hopefully not premature to speculate about doing so.

First, the precedents.

Following the Conservative party’s election pledge to “make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations,” the House voted in 2006 and 2008 to extend this country’s mission in Afghanistan. But, in 2010, the Prime Minister decided that the House didn’t need to vote on participating in a “technical or training missions,” only “combat” missions.

In regards to the bombing of Libya, the House of Commons voted in March 2011 to endorse the mission and the House voted to extend that mission in June 2011 and September 2011.

Of course, we do not yet know whether something is about to happen in Syria, whether Canada will participate whatever that is and how Canada might participate if we do.

Thomas Mulcair was asked yesterday whether he thought Parliament should debate Canada’s role and he linked recalling Parliament to any intervention.

Well, if there is any thought of an intervention, of course Parliament has to be reconvened.  It’s a clear undertaking of Mr. Harper, but we have no indication in that direction right now.

Note that though the Prime Minister has said he will seek to prorogue Parliament this fall, he hasn’t actually gone ahead and done so yet and so Parliament could be recalled without going through the trouble of a Throne Speech.

Meanwhile, in Britain, where it is apparently not yet premature to discuss these things (possibly owing to the differences of time zones, I guess) Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the House of Commons will be recalled for Thursday to debate and then vote on intervention in Syria.