Sunday, August 24, 2008

What Are Canadians Worried About? Senate Reform

I'm pretty certain that if you asked any of the candidates running in the current by-elections what they are hearing at the door, they'd answer, the Economy, the Environment, maybe Health Care and even Afghanistan.

Somehow I doubt anyone has heard a great roar about the immediate need for Senate reform, yet we're hearing that Harper wants that to be a big issue in the next election.

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulls the plug on Parliament next month, he appears poised to cite his frustrated efforts to reform Canada's unelected Senate as one of the reasons he seeks a new mandate.

His MPs are already sending out campaign-style material to constituents trashing the Liberals for clinging to the "horse and buggy" institution that Harper wants to reform without opening the constitution for amendment.

We need an election now because Harper is frustrated with his efforts to reform the Senate? The country needs to come to a crashing halt, spend millions of dollars because our petulant PM hasn't gotten his way on this issue? Unbelievable! This guy really doesn't understand the meaning of a minority government does he?

Well, I say bring it on because if that is going to be his issue, outside of his base, I cannot imagine the rest of the country feeling this is a good reason to hold an election. Good grief, talk about being tone deaf to what the country is preoccupied with at the moment. Not to mention the fact that the Senate did rather well this year in performing the role they are meant to play. C-10 anyone?

I'm sure he won't have this as his only issue and they will likely come forward with 5 priorities again, but will they resonate any more than Senate reform? We see that they are avoiding the Environment all together, they are in la-la land as it relates to the Economy, so what will it be?

Senate reform, crime, um, I'm drawing a blank here.

On QP today, journalists from the Hill were saying that they've heard the Con's are pushing for an election now because they are uncomfortable with the timing of the US election and the potential of some of the energy from the Dem camp making it's way across the border. It's an interesting concern and may have some marginal impact but I think during an election in Canada we'll be focused on Canadian issues.

Somehow I just don't see Senate reform as a pressing Canadian issue and certainly not one that justifies aborting 5 by-elections. It's simply another example to add to the growing list of what disdain Harper has for our democratic system.

18 comments:

RuralSandi said...

He can't go on the economy, he can't go on environment, he can't go on accountability, he can't go on his promise of shorter wait times - senate reform?

Obviously, Harper has no new vision (never had a vision) and no new ideas.

Also, what is the wisdom of senate reform at this time...it would be costly - when the economy is sinking?

knb said...

Exactly sandi. It's such a straw man it's laughable.

Oh course, they think the economy is doing just fine. The fail to mention that the only reason we didn't show a deficit this quarter is because of the revenue they recieved from the auction.

Omar said...

..Senate reform as a pressing Canadian issue..

The only issue I have with the Senate is its future demise. Until that time I firmly believe that Senate seats should be filled the old-fashioned way: by winning elections. That Harper stalls on filling the vacant (13 I believe?) seats in the Upper Chamber annoys me to no end. Show some leadership Mr Harper and exercise your prime ministerial prerogative! Impress your detractors for a change.

Steve V said...

knb

Do you have a source for the wireless auction inclusion? What I read, it wasn't part of the calculation, but it would sure explain a lot.

RuralSandi said...

Couldn't they just make it a rule that a PM has to pick as evenly as possible - Conservative/Liberal/NDP senators- would save oodles of money and more of a balance.

Elected senate would probably be more partisan anyway.

Can you just imagine the cost of elections for senators?

knb said...

Steve, I heard a journalist state it, Lawrence Martin I think.

I haven't gone through the numbers so I can't be sure, but now that you mention it, do the dates make sense? Could they have booked their best estimate in advance?

knb said...

Omar, I can't say that I'm for an elected Senate for the reason sandi quotes, but I understand the democratic aspect you cite.

You're right though, he should fill the seats.

knb said...

sandi, I don't think you'd find an NDP Senator, but there are a few independents.

Steve V said...

On QP today? I heard that too, but can't find anything to substantiate that.

knb said...

Hmm, he generally does his homework.

Why don't you drop him a line?

lmartin@globeandmail.com

Steve V said...

Thanks knb, I just emailed him. All I've seen is the following:

And the government is sitting on a $4.25-billion windfall from its recent auction of wireless spectrum that was not included in budget revenue projections and has not yet been booked in the financial statements.

knb said...

Ooops, I re-listened to it and it was Rosemary Thompson who said it, referring to Martin's column. He didn't correct her though.

I guess you could write here:

news@ctv.ca

She's the deputy Ottawa bureau chief.

Where did you find that statement?

Steve V said...

From on of the news articles on Friday, after Flaherty's update.

Omar said...

Trust me, I don't want Harper appointing his screwballs to the Senate, it just baffles me that he is reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity. It would likely be met with applause among many Senate loving, old school Maritimers. So what if such action disappoints his western throng? They must be used to such let downs by now.

knb said...

Lol, omar. Indeed the West must feel let down, but they are willing to forgive all when it comes to Harper.

Perhaps he thinks he will be PM long enough to allow the Senate to whittle away to nothing as long as he takes no action.

Manuel said...

Our current senate system truly is a joke though....the people should choose; not whichever hack is PM at the time, even if I like the PM.

penlan said...

Here is where some of that "surplus" may be coming from. And it is interesting to note when this announcement was released to the press.

From the Canadian Press:

"the Conservative government has chosen to sink a $2.9 billion replacement program for HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur, along with a $340 million companion proposal to buy 12 mid-shore patrol boats for the Canadian Coast Guard.

The decision was quietly announced late Friday night in a written statement by Public Works Minister Christian Paradis."

I'll be doing a post on this at my "place".

penlan said...

Thoughts on the possible Senate Reform platform Harper might want to run on.

I find it hard to believe that this would be a priority with voters. They are more focussed on the economy & the environment. And also the fact that the 2 will go hand in hand at some point.
So I don't think this will resonate with the voters.

But it can be brought up in reference to the "crime packages" that the Cons want to legislate & continually blame the Senate for the delay. The problem in implementing them though is that the Senate hasn't delayed them. They are sitting in some CPC office & being delayed there. But you don't hear that from the Cons. They are the ones who were/are delaying bringing them forward to be legislated.

So if it is a case of Senate reform then that fact must be made clear & prominent by the Libs in any election campaigning. The Cons run high on fear-mongering the electorate, & their "toughness" on crime does hit hard with some of the voters. Not just their base. You just have to watch local news shows to know that they run crime incidents as their lead-offs to their newscasts to grab the viewers attention. And that is what gives people the impression that crime is rife in their communities. Even though that is not the case & crime rates are down.