Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On the Senate, House, and Mulroney

On the Senate...

The Conservative government has reintroduced two bills into the House of Commons--one to limit senator terms to eight years (instead of up to 45) and the other to consult voters by province on who they want as senators which the prime minister would appoint. Last year, this was introduced and stalled in the Senate (due to "insenaty"). But now that's they're being introduced in the House and if they pass, they will go on to the Senate. Will the 99% appointed Senate defeat it and go against the wishes of the electorate?

If so, then the Conservatives are going to support an NDP bill to hold a referendum to abolish the senate altogether. And while this isn't really a binding referendum because in order to turf the upper chamber, that would require a constitutional amendment.

Again, there hasn't been this much activity regarding senate reform since the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords under Mulroney. What Stephen Harper is doing here though is instead of opening up the constitution, he's doing everything else to push senate reform to the forefront and continue on his path to rid Canada of Liberal politicians. While he won't likely get rid of them all, he's certainly giving it a good run.

On the House...

Today the government tabled a bill to give more seats to British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario and have this in place by 2012. Using Quebec as a benchmark, as we know they and PEI have a disproportionate number of MPs compared to their population, BC will get 7, Alberta 5, and Ontario 10, upping the total number from 308 to 330. I really wonder if there's any room left in the House. Seriously. It's bloody packed in there. Eventually, it's going to look like the British House of Commons where there's no desk, just benches.

So I say they also introduce a bill to limit the total seats in the House to the maximum number of desks it can actually fit in there. And instead of buying new seats, I guess if they abolish the senate, they can always use those ones, and their offices too.

On Mulroney...

Steve Janke at Angry in the Great White North has been following the intricacies of the Mulroney-Schreiber affair. Schreiber has actually been in contact with a Liberal MP. In fact, while Stephane Dion slams Harper for having known about this issue seven months ago, so did the Liberals and NDP, all receiving letters from Schreiber on this issue, who is doing everything he can to avoid extradition to Germany for all sorts of criminal dealings.

Mulroney continues to maintain his innocence and has called for an inquiry himself. Warren Kinsella guesses that Mulroney knew one was coming and was able to hit the media first. Sounds reasonable.

The Liberals and NDP have done a good job on slamming the government, and although their claims are hypocritical in a sense, Harper has called for an inquiry, but to the avail of a dip in the polls for the Conservatives--especially in Ontario, where just last week, they were ahead of the Liberals after the tax relief announcement. This is just a blip although it shows that Ontarians don't like Brian Mulroney or that Harper has him as an advisor.

It will be interesting to see how much play the Mulroney Schreiber affair gets in the national media. Will the Conservatives be able to spin it back onto the Liberals? They might want to only do it once, as it will only prolong the issue in the media.

In summary, neat and crazy things are happening in Canadian politics, which only makes it all that much more fun.

(Senate and HOC images courtesy of the Parliamentary website ( Mulroney image courtesy of LA PRESSE CANADIENNE/Adrian Wyld.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the number of seats in the House will grow too large if we follow Harper's new formula now and in the future. Harper should just drop this idea, and use the existing legislation, which would create only 7 new seats, 4 for Ontario, 2 for Alberta and 1 for BC. This has the advantage of creating fewer new seats, as you suggest, PLUS it treats these three provinces equally, giving them equal representation per population. I've already written to my MP asking him to oppose Harper's new legislation and to support the existing legislation. You could do the same.