Friday, 28 August 2009

More Senate Thoughts

Since it's the Topic Du Jour.

I'm a big believer that if you don't like the game, you still have to play it first and then try to change the rules. So Gary Doer accepting an appointment from Harper doesn't bother me like it does others.

The more common way of expressing this rule is, its easier to change from within than from without.

So in that vein, Harper appointing senators even though he promised not to, while hypocritical, doesn't get my knickers all in a twist. It's another case of making a stupid impractical promise (like swearing to never raise taxes). The Senate is part of our government, and seats should not be left vacant. A habit of the Conservatives that concerns me.

What frustrates me, and Coyne as linked earlier, is the overtly partisan nature of the appointments. Through these appointments, Harper is obviously trying to make the Senate fail. He's attempting sabotage on one of our legislative branches by appointing large numbers of incompetents. Why couldn't he appoint serious thinkers, respected conservative experts in various social sciences? Nope, he just wants loyalists. He had the opportunity once again to rise above the debate and attempt the high road. Yet unsurprisingly he opted for the muck instead.

And that is seriously short-sighted. It has been posited that he appointed these people in return for guarantees that they would support any future legislation "reforming" the Senate. That is his only goal. Well the problem with this is, how does he go about enforcing that promise? Being a PM is transitory, being a Senator is forever, in parliamentary terms. Chances are, by doing nothing his partisan flacks can stymie Harper's terms at reform and keep their cushy jobs. They just have to be patient and outlast him.

Or what? What can Harper do to them if they break their promise?

Absolutely nothing. His ploy at valuing loyalty above all else may bite him in the ass yet. Trouble is, it's Canadians as a whole that will suffer from an ineffective and incompetent Senate.

Mr Harper, making things worse is not a required road to making things better.


Ken Breadner said...

I used to think Senators ought to be elected. But given the general apathy that infects so many Canadians, I no longer see the point.
I still think the Senate should have a nice balance of partisan and nonpartisan types, from all sorts of backgrounds. I don't have a problem with Harper's appointments, beyond, of course, the fact he's always said he would never do what he just did.

Catelli said...

I'm not sure what benefit pure partisans could offer.

I don't think it serves much purpose for the Senate to mirror Parliament. (Did I say that right?)

If both houses were elected from the "common pool" then what's the point? The Senate is supposed to serve as sober second thought. Where bills are reviewed and grievous errors or mistakes are pointed out. I believe that it would be better served by studious, learned individuals. Kind of like a tenured professor guiding the unruly lower house.

If the Senate in fact is not really needed for this purpose, then it should just be abolished. The more I reflect on this, the only changes I support for the Senate is better review (though not election) of proposed Senators, and limited terms. Tweak, instead of reform.

Or get rid of it entirely.

Catelli said...

House of Commons, not Parliament. Sorry for the Brain Freeze.