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Red Room, Red Room

August 29, 2009
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Oh you have GOT to be kidding me. Did someone remove the term “common sense” from the reference copy of the OED at the PMO?

On Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Harper once again showed that he really does subscribe to the “do as I say, not as I do” school of leadership. After years of ragging on the Senate as an upper house chock-a-block with patronage appointments and “a dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the Prime Minister”, he himself decided to fill nine of the newly vacant seats in the Red Chamber with…well…his own brand of favoured cronies.

Among the holders of the parliamentary equivalent to a golden ticket are former Conservative Party organizer (not to mention husband to current MP Diane Finley) Doug Finley, and long time Harper communications aide Carolyn Stewart-Olsen. Defeated Conservative candidate Claude Carignan and Conservative Party president Don Plett are also in the mix.

Now, I’m not a doctor, but I would have thought that if one had been quite vocal in their disdain for patronage appointments to the Senate when one was in Opposition, one would then refrain from engaging in patronage appointments to the Senate when one became Prime Minister. No? Too Soon?

There are some who have decried the criticism towards Harper, saying that as long as the system exists the way it does that he is going to have to play within it. While this is true (let’s face it, we aren’t getting an elected Senate anytime soon), Harper could choose to play in the sandbox in a way that doesn’t make him a *complete* hypocrite. Instead of trying to obtain his magic number of 50 Conservatives in the Upper House, he could practice as he preaches and fill the vacancies with individuals who would best serve Canadians as bearers of “sober second thought”, regardless of political stripe. If that’s too pie in the sky for you to handle, maybe just people who aren’t socompletelyandutterlypartisan that not one person can believe that they got there on any shred of merit at all.

I don’t buy that Harper’s appointments *have* to be uber-Conservative in order to balance the number of Liberal appointments. It isn’t as if we have a Constitutional crisis on our hands where no legislation is getting passed because it is being rejected at the Senate level. Harper isn’t battening down the hatches for a GST-style fight à la Mulrooney in ’91. There is just no excuse for this momentously stupid display of political backpedalling. Senate reform, if the Conservative really want it, has to start at home.

But maybe reform isn’t Harper’s raison d’être with these appointments. Maybe he is being shrewd, perpetuating the oft-held view that the Senate is a waste of a pretty red room that doesn’t serve any purpose but to needlessly fetter away taxpayer dollars so that, in the end, he can advocate for getting rid of it altogether.

Or maybe I’m just looking for some sense in all of this mess. For serious.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Misa permalink
    September 22, 2009 10:02 pm

    Hold everything.
    Did you say that he appointed 9 senators?
    Try upwards of 20 (27 I think) in the past year!!

    Holy Hypocrite, Batman!

    Not to mention that after years of berating the Senate (one of numerous Canadian institutions that he loves to hate), he nominated one Senator because the guy couldn’t get elected and named him Minister of THE biggest ministerial department that we have, Public Works and Government Services Canada. He wasn`t even in the House to answer to the people!!

    But hey, I’m not going to pretend to be surprised. How many promises has he made that he reneged on? Kelowna, Kyoto, Income Trusts, fixed election dates, not “coalitioning” with Socialists and Seperatists and the Supreme Brainfart of a Clean Air Act, which would have been better for the environment had they taken the paper they printed it on and used it for TP.

    And I agree with you, he didn`t do this to reform the Senate, but rather to burn it. Think of his appointment of Chief Brazeau. Let’s not kid ourselves and think that Harper et al. didn’t know about Brazeau’s problems before he was appointed. Hell, Harper can find out my girlfriend’s bra size if he really wanted to (not from me though).

    People are being very complacent with regards to Harper’s administration and saying: well, I don’t really like Ignatieff. He’s weird. He’s been out of the country. What does he have to offer? His eyebrows are scary.
    I feel like we’re about to slide into a point of no-return. While we’re asking all kinds of questions about our alternatives, Harper is gaining ground and if he wins a majority, well, I don’t even want to think of what he’ll do to our country. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Iggy’s Liberals are bang-on: We do deserve better. For serious!
    I am looking forward to your next blog post!

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