Saturday, June 11, 2011

Insenity Within

I'm surprised that the media (I'm especially looking at you SunTV) haven't seriously latched onto the story that some Conservative senators, even those appointed by Harper in the last five years, are balking at Harper's plans for senate reform without constitutional amendments.

For this blogger, when I read about it, my first thought was, "Fire them."  But wait, can't be done, can it?  MPs can be easily whipped or pushed out as a candidate in the next election.

"There are a lot of unintended consequences from an elected Senate," Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald told Postmedia News. "(Not only) in terms of its relationship . . . with the House of Commons, its relationship with the government of the day and the relationship of the (senators) with their own provincial governments. These things have to be looked at because . . . the long-term implications are pretty significant."

People often complain the Senate is illegitimate and not democratic but, MacDonald said, "the Senate wasn't set up to be elected."

"It was set up to be a deliberative body and not an elected body and it's been that way for 147 years and for the most part, it seems it has worked pretty well," he said.
And there's the insenaty.  Actually, appointed senator, if you knew your Canadian constitutional history, the Senate was actually SUPPOSED to be elected at its formation, but from negotiations, one the main reasons why the founders signed the dotted line was that senators were to be appointed for the time being.  And even after that in the late 19th century, for a young Canada, there was a desire, but to amend the rigid constitution was difficult, and it still is.

"It seems it has worked pretty well."???? Excuse me?  Senator attendance sucks. Always has.  Criminals as sitting senators?  They've blocked what, how many bills from the House of Commons?  Not many.  And how many bills come out of the senate compared to the Commons?  Way fewer.

This senator needs to be flogged out in the back chamber.  What other punishment can he receive?  Flogging. That's about it, really.  Maybe the Conservatives at the convention should put in a policy for senator flogging. 

The NDP want to scrap the senate because they'll never form government and get to appoint any of them.  Which bloggles my mind that they at least wouldn't want to elect them, then at least they have a chance to have senators.  Then again, the NDP also favour proportional representation in the Commons.  And why's that?  To bump them up with more members in the Commons to ensure the percentage vote matches the seat count. But to make up the difference those specific members have to be chosen from somewhere.  Not directly by voters though, so by what method?  Appointment.  Ah.  And there's the contradiction. 

So back to the senate.  Now some of these rogue senators want to extend the term limit to 10-12 years to overlap governments.  I agree with the concept of overlap, but the best way to achieve this is to do what the US senate does and elect one of the two senators each election.  In Canada's situation, I've proposed that each province get 6 senators, each representing a general provincial region, with half of them elected every three years.  Now, I guess if the term limit was 8 years, we could do it every federal election.

Thing is, senatorial elections are run by provinces, and the candidate represents not a federal party, but a provincial one.  It's an odd situation, but it's the reality of our constitution.  Even then, when a newly appointed senator declares the caucus he sits with, it's with whatever party he or she declares (hence some senators are still Progressive Conservative).

Some provinces are open to having elections to then have the prime minister recommend to the governor general to appoint them to the senate.  But this depends on who's premier.  Ralph Klein had no problem with it.  Ed Stelmach does.  Brad Wall in Saskatchewan is open to it.  Dalton McGuinty is not.  Quebec?  I think they want the whole senate, let alone 25% of it.

My only hope in all of this to lead us toward some kind of senate reform is the resilience and political acumen of our Prime Minister.  By making the 30 appointments in the first place he did two things.  One, he gained seats in the senate to pass bills from the Commons.  Two, he drew a lot more attention to the need for senate reform.

And now there's a third.  With some of his own senators balking, it now proves that unelected senators are also accountable to no one.

And that, my loyal readers, is not a democracy.

1 comment:

Pissedoff said...

So Harper as to tell them that with the Harper party and Layton party they can kill the senate altogether. Something Jack will go along with.