Red Room, Red Room
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.