OTTAWA, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Canadian opposition parties ended 2009 with anger Thursday at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to suspend Parliament until March.
A day earlier, Harper spoke with Governor General Michaelle Jean by phone and received royal assent to prorogue, or suspend Parliament, to allow time to further prepare the country's economic recovery plan, the Canwest News Service reported.
He made no public appearance, issuing a short statement saying the House of Commons would sit again March 3.
Opposition leaders blasted Harper and accused his minority Conservative government of trying to mothball an inquiry into allegations Canadian troops in Afghanistan turned over prisoners to Afghan authorities knowing the captives would be tortured.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff issued a statement condemning the move.
"Harper is showing that his first impulse when he is in trouble is to shut down Parliament," Ignatieff said.
New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton told the Toronto Star he was angry.
"This kind of thing can't happen in the United States or most other parliaments -- it's the kind of thing you hear of in dictatorships," Layton said. "It's a slap in the face and it's a denial of the democratic process."