If his intent was to adhere to the wisdom of the Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember…”, PM Stephen Harper seems to have been very successful in teaching us all a powerful lesson yesterday.
Jack Layton calls it undemocratic:
“It’s a slap in the face of the Canadian voters who just trooped out to the polls to send their own message very strongly in the last election,” said the leader of the Opposition.
(He who wanted to overturn the results of the 2008 election with the Coalition of Losers.)
But I would argue that the timing of this announcement was a calculated move to shake up those foot-dragging provinces that didn’t want to go the elected-Senator route.
PM Harper was saying in effect, ‘O.K. We’ll play it your way and this is what will continue to happen. Is that what you really want?’
Brad Wall has criticized the Senate appointments as well, even though he is onside with an elected Senate. He wants federal funding for the voting process – which seems reasonable to me. But Senators will continue to be appointed until we get to the point where the majority of provinces and population are willing to buy into the concept.
What do people expect the Conservative Government is going to do in the absence of cooperation from the provinces on Senate Reform? Just sit there and watch their legislation get hung up by Liberal Senators? Not very likely.
Bert Brown, Canada’s only elected senator and longtime Senate reform crusader, said he’s not at all upset that Harper has made these appointments.
“The Conservatives had a plurality in the Senate, but we needed a majority so that we could get some important bills passed,” explained Brown.
“The Liberals have had a majority in the Senate for 70 years with the exception of two brief periods, so we need to build up our majority so we can actually get some Conservative laws passed.”
Then, says Brown, it will be up to individual provinces to draft legislation to hold Senate elections during provincial elections. Once provinces do that, the prime minister will appoint those provincially elected senators to the upper chamber regardless of their political stripe or allegiance.
“The ball is now in the provinces’ court,” said Brown. “If they don’t hold Senate elections, the prime minister has made it clear he will fill Senate appointments.”
Senate Reform has been part of PM Stephen Harper’s vision for a very long time.
With these latest Senate Appointments giving Conservatives a majority in both houses, I believe he’s saying now is the time Canada. You’ll likely never get this chance again.
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Mary T and others had an excellent discussion on this topic yesterday.
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I keep hoping for things to calm down on the political front for a while so I can take a little break, but recent events continue to conspire against me. However I plan to catch up on the home-front this coming long weekend if not sooner. Readers are still welcome to comment and I’ll drop in occasionally to check for anything stuck in the filters.