Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harper's Defence on Senate Reform (it's a poor one)

Harper, while not confirming his nine Senate appointments, did attempt to defend the 27 appointments he has made to the Upper Chamber in the last year. Unfortunately for him, it's a laughable defence at best:

"I’m willing to appoint elected senators, but so far only one province has held an election and that’s Alberta," Harper said in Quebec.

"Until senators are elected, this government will ensure that we have in the Senate people who will work hard and will support the elected government of this country. And that includes passing our anti-crime legislation and passing our democratic reforms which have been blocked in the Senate."

Sound inconsistent with Harper's pontifications on Senate reform? That's because it is. To hear Harper tell it a while back, he was ready to bring real reform to the Senate. The Conservatives were going to make significant changes to the gravy train that is Canada's Upper House, according to Harper.

However, once in power for a while, Harper has realized that having a Senate with a majority in his favour would be highly beneficial, and would streamline his legislation. So now, instead of senate reform being a federal responsibility, one that Harper partly campaigned on, it is now provincial.

It's not Harper's fault there's no reform. It's those backward provinces that don't set up elections for the senate. Let that sink in. Harper is saying that provincial governments should organize elections for federal posts.

Instead of being principled and accountable, two virtues on which he campaigned mercilessly, Harper is thinking up the most ludicrous excuses for his lack of principle.

Just wait. Perhaps the provinces are responsible for more than you think.
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  1. So are you for or against Senate Reform?

  2. Harper doesn't have to defend his appointments, its his responsibility and privilege to make them. Harper promised, proposed and passed legislation, and he is the only Prime Minister to ever appoint elected Senators. Twice!

    Liberals PASSED Harper's Senate reform legislation in the House, then BLOCKED it in the Senate. Then they criticized Harper's policy because the all Senate vacancies meant the committees couldn't do their work. They had a point, until Harper appointed Senators specifically chosen to break through the undemocratic Liberal roadblock.

    You Liberals love to twist the facts, but the facts remain.

  3. To Joanne: I haven't decided. However, I was very surprised by Harper's defence, which as I wrote in the post, is only a deflection of the problem onto the provinces, a problem Harper vowed to solve, himself.

    To zoop: The point of the post is to point out discrepancy in Harper's actions, from claiming to want to solve the problem one moment, to putting the responsibility for the problem on the provinces who aren't offering him elected senators to appoint.

    Appointing elected senators was not the sort of reform that Harper was advocating. Harper was calling for electing the senators. There's a difference, in that the latter implies that he would bring about elections for said senators.

  4. While I agree that Harper should be following through on his comittment to Senate Reform, it must be said that the Provinces, IMHO, do have a responsibility to provide elected Senators for the PM to appoint until such a time that we have the Constitutional ammendments in place and have real reform.

    Senators are not strictly a federal post, and so the responsibilities for electing/appointing them should be shared. Its going to take not just the House and Senate to pass the reforms, but in all likelyhood also a 2/3 majority in each Province (or at least those who want to take part in elections).

    I hate to say it, but the Liberal Party will not allow the reforms through the Senate, they have made that much clear. The Bloc and NDP don't have any Senators, and in fact want the Senate abolished, an idea I am tossing around in my own mind. By simple deduction, that leaves the Conservatives to do the Senate Reforming - and the only way to do it is through the Senate.


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