We have learned that the federal government has prorogued Parliament. This means that all MP's who were elected in the last election will remain in place, but any unpassed bills or motions, will be non-existent. Mr. Harper called the Governor-General on December 29, 2009, to ask her to give a Speech from the Throne on March 3, 2009, allowing the government to table a budget on March 4, 2009.
This will set up a number of confidence votes in the spring, at which point the opposition will have to decide whether they wish to continue supporting the government. In the current minority government, the Conservatives need the support of one opposition party to survive. At the same time, nothing stops the Prime Minister from calling an election based on the budget or an economic plan, something which would almost certainly be acceptable to the Governor-General.
As noted above, an effect of prorogation is that all bills that have not received royal assent die and must be restarted from the beginning when a new Parliament begins. While the government can try to move bills with broad support quickly back through the process (reinstatement requires approval in the House), delays can be significant. Only 27 of the 64 Government bills introduced during the current session have received royal assent, leaving 37 bills in need of a restart. Examples of bills impacted by prorogation include bill C-27 (anti-spam and electronic commerce).
The government also indicated that it will fill five vacancies in the Senate in the near future, providing the Conservatives with more seats than the Liberals in the Senate. New Senate committees will be formed when Parliament is reconvened, putting the Conservatives in a position of a "governing minority" in the Senate with 51 seats (the government will be short of a majority in the 105-seat Senate, given the presence of independents and Senators from the old Progressive Conservative Party).