[JURIST] Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean [official profile] Thursday morning granted a request by Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] to suspend the Canadian parliament until January, heading off for the moment a constitutional crisis that might have been triggered if she had invited a coalition [accord text, PDF] of opposition parties to form a new government without an intervening election. Prorogation was granted despite the fact that the Harper government was facing likely defeat in the House next Monday in a no-confidence vote. In remarks at Rideau Hall after his meeting with the governor general, Harper said that his first priority after parliament meets again on January 26 will be to introduce a new federal budget. A heavily-criticized government economic statement [press release] earlier this month precipitated the coalition talks. Defeat of the government by the opposition in January remains a possibility, however.
In a televised address to the nation [transcript; recorded video] Wednesday evening, Harper had promised to use "every legal means" at his disposal "to protect our democracy, to protect our economy and to protect Canada", noting that his minority government had just been returned to power in a federal election on October 14 [election results]. Jean returned to Canada Wednesday afternoon after cutting short a European state visit. A Canadian governor general has never refused a prorogation request from a prime minister, but no prime minister has ever asked for prorogation in a bid to avoid defeat in the House of Commons.