Ideas to reform the Senate seem to be the Canadian version of the Holy Grail. This week, you’ve seen not calls for reform, but calls to abolish it with the behaviors coming to light of a couple of Harper-appointed Conservative Senators in the form of Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.
I’m against abolition – I think the Senate can perform its constitutionally designated role – helping to represent the provinces as it was intended to do if it was given some legitimacy, and the patronage appointment power of the Prime Minister (or technically the Governor-General) removed. Of course, that means I’m for electing the Senators, but you can’t do it [...]
Yes, I’m going to give Harper credit on something this morning, and that is the apparent decision to refer the Government’s proposed Senate reform bill to the Supreme Court of Canada, and ask the High Court for their decision on whether its constitutionally valid or not:
Since 2006, the Conservative government has called for all new senators to be selected through provincial elections and to serve under a fixed term, with the latest version of the legislation proposing a nine-year mandate…experts said they feel it is appropriate to check on the constitutionality of the Senate reforms before they are put into place, instead of passing the legislation and then letting [...]
It seems a new poll is out that says Canadians are more then willing right now to re-open the Constitution to do such things as Senate reform:
After almost two decades of constitutional peace, Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press indicates a majority is now willing to risk re-opening the constitutional can of worms to accomplish some specific goals…For instance, 61 per cent said they’re prepared to re-open the Constitution to reform or abolish the appointed Senate. And 58 per cent said they’re willing to offer constitutional amendments in a bid to finally secure Quebec’s signature on the Constitution. Fifty-eight per cent also said they’re willing to open up [...]
There are two traits of our newest Conservative Senator, David Braley (who, by the way, owns 2 CFL teams – the Toronto Argos and the BC Lions. I still don’t get how he’s allowed to own 2 different teams in the same league – conflict of interest anyone? – but that’s another story).
The first trait, as noted by Kady O’Malley, is that he already has the Conservative trait of deny, deny, deny, even when faced with facts:
From today’s Globe and Mail:
As the Prime Minister’s Office announced Mr. Braley’s appointment, opposition Liberal researchers said he personally donated $16,500 to Mr. Harper’s 2004 leadership campaign and that his company [...]
Here’s a wonkish-type post from me today on Senate reform, since there’s another poll out today (h/t Harperbizarro)that shows many Canadians in favour of an elected Senate.
In my opinion, If you’re going to do reform, Harper’s piecemeal way isn’t the way to go (it may not even be constitutionally legal); you need to open the Constitution and hammer out an agreement with the provinces. It’s more difficult to do it that way, but if you’re serious about it and not just trying to use it as a wedge issue for stirring up your supporters, then that’s the way you do it. If you fail, you drop it and [...]
This is a different video take on the patronage king, Stephen Harper. It’s been promoted elsewhere on other blogs, but it still amused me enough that I thought I’d add it here as well.
It’s been rather amusing pointing out the hypocrisy that Harper has engaged in with all these crony appointments to the Senate in recent days and comparing them to his past statements, but let me say that I also want to mirror Jeff’s blogpost in saying that if Harper were actually to propose real Senate reform, I’d go along with that. What is “real Senate reform”, you might ask? Jeff’s definition will do nicely:
..real and meaningful Senate reform means a constitutional amendment. It means the amending formula. It means sitting down with the provinces and negotiating regional representation, and elections, and term limits, and the balance of powers between House [...]
In brief, and just to follow up on Impolitical’s post this AM, there are many things I worry about with regards to Liberal election strategy and allowing Harper to continue being PM of this country, but “losing the Senate” because of a raft of patronage appointments by this PM isn’t one of those worries.
Check out the interview that ex-hockey coach, current hockey analyst, and newly appointed Conservative Senator Jacques Demers gave to the Globe:
Mr. Demers… was a well-known face among the new crop of senators. He said he will continue working as a hockey analyst and put his mind to his new job.
“I’ve just been named a senator here, and I’m going to have to start following [federal politics],” he said in an interview.
I’m not listing this to attack Jacques: I applaud him for his honesty about his not having followed federal politics up to this point.
It reflects worse on Harper for picking him then it does Jacques for [...]
So, I’m going to get on here today and actually give Harper credit for picking Gary Doer, the just-resigned ex-NDP premier of Manitoba, to be the new ambassador to the US. He’s someone who’ll be more ideologically in tune with President Obama then current Canadian ambassador Michael Wilson is (who probably is feeling a bit uncomfortable down there after Conservative officials leaked to the US press about “Obama doesn’t really believe in vetoing Free trade” stuff that occurred in the Democratic primaries and helped contribute to an Obama defeat in Ohio), and since he’s an ex-premier, he’ll probably be used to try and go at this “Buy American” legislation that’s [...]