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The Canadian Progressive: Canadians: It’s time to either reform or abolish the Senate, already!

According to a new post-Duffy trial poll, thirty-nine per cent of Canadians say the Senate should be abolished. Many more say the unelected Red Chamber remains “too damaged to ever earn their goodwill”. The post Canadians: It’s time to either ref… . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Canadians: It’s time to either reform or abolish the Senate, already!

Scott's DiaTribes: Worth repeating on the Supreme Court Senate ruling

As those of you who follow politics in Canada know, the Supreme Court of Canada told Stephen Harper on Friday that if he wanted to either reform (7 provinces/50% of pop) or abolish (unanimity + Senate agreement) the Senate, he needed to do something he hates doing – build a consensus with the provinces.

That . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Worth repeating on the Supreme Court Senate ruling

Progressive Proselytizing: Vic Toews’ horrible and hypocritical judicial appointment

When the Conservatives where in opposition they raised – as they often did – a legitimate point about the patronage within the then Liberal government. At the front of the pack was Justice Critic Vic Toews, who – quite rightly –  decried the partisan appointments themselves and the process by which they were made. . . . → Read More: Progressive Proselytizing: Vic Toews’ horrible and hypocritical judicial appointment

Progressive Proselytizing: A brilliant tactical move: Justin Trudeau kicks out Liberal Senators

Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due: Justin Trudeau just pulled a brilliant tactical move with his unexpected and unceremonious dumping of all former Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus. As a political analyst, I often am rather unimpressed by the blunders and lack of political acumen from politicians. So setting . . . → Read More: Progressive Proselytizing: A brilliant tactical move: Justin Trudeau kicks out Liberal Senators

Aaron Manton: Trudeau Channels Harper on the Senate

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a career out of preying on Canadians’ ignorance of our democratic institutions, the Senate in particular.

He did so as far back as 2010 when, in an unprecedented move, he used his Senate majority to defeat the Commons-supported Climate Change Accountability Act. He did so throughout the tenure of . . . → Read More: Aaron Manton: Trudeau Channels Harper on the Senate

Scott's DiaTribes: So this thing happened in the Senate today..

If anyone predicted this was going to happen today, I’m going to them to ask what numbers I should pick for the lottery:

Justin Trudeau has expelled from his caucus every single Liberal member of the upper house and has declared there is no longer any such thing as a Liberal Senator. The Liberal leader . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: So this thing happened in the Senate today..

Progressive Proselytizing: A Scandal in Two Institutions: The Senate Half

What has become known as the Senate Scandal is really a scandal in two institutions: the Senate, of course, but also the PMO. The PMO half of this scandal was written here. What follows is the Senate half of the scandal:

One of the advantages of living in a (relatively) functioning first world democracy . . . → Read More: Progressive Proselytizing: A Scandal in Two Institutions: The Senate Half

Cowichan Conversations: Supreme Court Rules Last Federal Election Was Fraudulent

Dorothy Field-Cowichan Conversations Contributor

The Canadian Federal Court has confirmed that the country’s 2011 federal election, which led to the victory of Stephen Harper’s government, was fraudulent.

This is appalling. Doesn’t the erosion of our democracy matter anymore?

Why isn’t this in the news instead of the awful Senate and Rob Ford?

Well, . . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: Supreme Court Rules Last Federal Election Was Fraudulent

Autonomy For All: The Senate Scandal’s Connection to Harper’s Worst Acts

Reading this excellent piece by Shawn Whitney on how the left shouldn’t assume great policy will automatically come from the downfall of either Harper or Ford, the author speaks to my own discomfort with the Senate expenses scandal:

At the federal level, Stephen Harper’s troubles have nothing to do with his murder of thousands of Afghans in support of NATO’s attempt to subdue that country. It has nothing to do with his shutdown of the national daycare plan that Paul Martin put in place to try and save his own skin, or his scuppering of the deal he made with first nations people. […]

It has nothing to do with his unbridled support for big oil and their enthusiastic destruction of the environment of Alberta and, indeed, the whole world with the tar sands. Nothing to do with his support for fracking to recover natural gas.

My own list of Harper’s worst misdeeds relate to his contempt for democracy, and specifically the systemic safeguards which help guarantee it continues.  A government which got itself re-elected after making history for being held in actual contempt of Parliament, a leader who authorized an attempt to bribe an independent MP to vote against the previous minority Liberal government’s budget, a group that actually gave its MPs a manual on how to disrupt and confuse committee hearings, and then used the ensuing rancor to break at least the spirit of its own fixed election dates law and call a snap election at a politically opportune moment.

As Whitney does, I find it very easy to keep listing these things. Really, the point is that nailing Harper and his crew vicious ideologues over $90,000 in misclaimed expenses feels a lot like putting Al Capone in prison for tax evasion.  Sure, it might get the job done, but it feels hollow and unsatisfying.

Casuistry Is The Connection

My thinking has changed a bit in considering Duffy’s claims that the PMO and Senate Majority leader pre-cleared his expenses as being compliant with the rules.  This is entirely believable, and has been signature of Harper’s lot their entire time in power: They stretch the meaning of every rule & law to their own benefit well past the point of credulity.  In this case, it is the Senate’s internal interpretation of the Constitution’s Senatorial residency requirements which external auditor Deloitte found to be “unclear.”  It’s easy to see what Harper’s government did with these “unclear” rules:  Interpret them maximally to their own needs of the moment.  This is what they do with everything else, and they have typically gotten away with it.

The examples of this abound:

  • In-And-Out: Breaking Canada’s election financing laws using blatantly contrived specious reasoning about the interpretation of party spending.
  • Coaltion with traitors: Rabble rousing and treason-baiting over the 2008 opposition coaltion deal for including confidence vote support of the BQ when Harper himself had obviously cut a similar deal with the BQ when in the opposition.
  • Using the ordinarily routine practice of proroguation in quiet times to save his premiership from that same opposition deal in the face of a signed letter by a majority of MPs indicating their intent to vote non-confidence against his government.
  • In the case of the previously mentioned contempt of Parliament finding, I’m not even sure Harper’s crew bothered with any rationalization for refusing to provide the documents required, they just judged (correctly) that they could get away with this, and it even suited their purposes for the opposition to force an election.
  • They did get slightly burned over Bev Oda having a non-political staff recommendation falsely reversed to give her cover in refusing funding to an organization the Conservatives just don’t like. Harper just rode this out with characteristic arrogance.  In a preview of the current troubles, Oda would eventually fall to a personal expenses scandal over charging, among other things a $16 glass of orange juice.

It isn’t a coincidence that it is Duffy & Wallin in trouble for expenses either, since their very appointments were constitutionally ludicrous to begin with. Of course Duffy & Wallin needed to rack up unusual travel & housing expenses: they don’t actually reside in the provinces they were supposed to represent.  Harper wanted these two famous, charismatic and fairly popular media personalities on his team, working the speech and fundraising circuits and employed his typical level of intellectual sophistry to re-interpret some very clear law so that “residency” doesn’t mean what it obviously means to most people by any plain language interpretation. Same link on the actual constitutional requirements for Senators:  

One requirement is that the Senator must own $4,000 worth of property in the province he/she represents.

Another and more basic requirement is that a Senator be a resident in the province he/she represents.

I’d bet the Senate has attempted in its arcane and ordinarily publicly ignored way come up with some set of guidance around what “resident” means to cover some uninteresting snowbird Senators who probably spent significant periods of the year in Florida or other sunny climates. Let’s say it is even somehow true that Duffy’s living arrangement somehow meets these loose rules – Harper tried to, as usual, drive a barge through this loophole and has ultimately been tripped up on a combination of his own contempt for laws that inhibit him, and the very plain and obvious meaning of the clause in the Constitution.  Nobody cares what the Senate previously decided “resident” means because we know it cannot possibly legitimately include how little Duffy & Wallin were actually “residing” in their Senatorial provinces.  Harper’s government got caught in a trap of their own deceit, and their only shield would be the self-serving rules of an undemocratic and poorly respected institution.

This is the core linkage of l’affaire du Sénat to this government’s most grievous crimes: Right from the top Harper has set the example of self serving linguistic and legal casuistry.  On arcane but vital matters of democratic institutional survival, he has regularly gotten away with it. When combined with plain old ripping off the treasury, it finally caught up to them, and him.  All the rest, Duffy’s inability and unwillingness to repay out of his own pocket, the crooked deal with Wright, the need for Mulcair’s excellent prosecutorial style of QP jousting falls from this core ethical failing of Harper’s ministry.  They too, like Bush’s wrecking crew thought that they can just act and create their own reality no matter what we say.  This, finally, appears to be a wall such gall cannot breach.

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. . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: The Senate Scandal’s Connection to Harper’s Worst Acts

Autonomy For All: The Senate Scandal’s Connection to Harper’s Worst Acts

Reading this excellent piece by Shawn Whitney on how the left shouldn’t assume great policy will automatically come from the downfall of either Harper or Ford, the author speaks to my own discomfort with the Senate expenses scandal: At the federal level, Stephen Harper’s troubles have nothing to do with his murder of thousands of . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: The Senate Scandal’s Connection to Harper’s Worst Acts

liberal catnip: The Senate: Where due process went to die today…

Senate votes to suspend Brazeau, Duffy, WallinThis is a dark, dark day for Canadian democracy and justice. The unelected senate took it upon itself to create a new system of so-called accountability by unceremoniously turfing 3 senators who haven’t bee… . . . → Read More: liberal catnip: The Senate: Where due process went to die today…

liberal catnip: The Senate: Where due process went to die today…

Senate votes to suspend Brazeau, Duffy, Wallin

This is a dark, dark day for Canadian democracy and justice. The unelected senate took it upon itself to create a new system of so-called accountability by unceremoniously turfing 3 senators who haven’t been legally charged or convicted of anything – all at the behest of Control Freak . . . → Read More: liberal catnip: The Senate: Where due process went to die today…

liberal catnip: Steve’s Senate: The Grift That Keeps on Giving

The average Canadian can be forgiven for not being able to follow all of the bouncing balls being bunted about in the PMO playHouse as Stephen Harper fancies himself the prime mimicker of everything decent and upstanding while failing to keep his senate scandal stories straight from one day to the next. Absolute control corrupts absolutely (to bastardize an old cliché).

Last week, CBC/The National’s Peter Mansbridge summarized some of the history quite well in this video clip, in case you need to refresh your memory or catch up on the sordid affair. 
Caution: may leave a bad aftertaste, especially if you’re a Conservative…

Two Key Dates in the Senate Story

Master of the straw man this past Friday nite, Steve proudly told Conservative convention thunderstick enthusiasts:

“Our opponents accuse us of being unfair, nasty and ruthless and portray the offenders as victims, even martyrs. Friends, in terms of such opponents, I couldn’t care less what they say.”

Well, we already knew he couldn’t care less – about a lot of things. But to not care less about imaginary  ideas you’ve concocted about your enemies…well…that takes a certain sort of something, doesn’t it? The word “strength” does not come to mind. “Delusion”, maybe.

And, ironically, it is exactly the classic Martyr personality that when confronted with its own weaknesses and mistakes, blames them on anything it can shake one of those thundersticks at. He blamed the courts, the Liberals, the NDP… never mentioning the fact that Conservative senators are also opposed to the senate motion to suspend Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy without pay. Something about “due process” – a concept Steve doesn’t seem to understand.

Due process, however, has now come knocking on the PMO’s door:

Duffy allegations bring RCMP to PMO doorstep

They may be paying a little visit to the office of Senator Irving Gerstein any day now as well – he who let it slip out (rather loudly and in front of hundreds of people) that he was in the thick of L’Affaire Duffy.

Whoops.

The chamber formerly known as that place as sober second thought will finally vote on the fate of the senators three on Tuesday.

What’s the rush, Steve? What’s the rush?

No matter what, this isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. Even a delusional man can figure that out. Well, most of them can, anyway.

. . . → Read More: liberal catnip: Steve’s Senate: The Grift That Keeps on Giving

liberal catnip: Steve’s Senate: The Grift That Keeps on Giving

The average Canadian can be forgiven for not being able to follow all of the bouncing balls being bunted about in the PMO playHouse as Stephen Harper fancies himself the prime mimicker of everything decent and upstanding while failing to keep his senate scandal stories straight from one day to the next. Absolute control corrupts . . . → Read More: liberal catnip: Steve’s Senate: The Grift That Keeps on Giving

Scott's DiaTribes: Apparently, the courts are the new enemy of Senate reform

So says the Prime Minister to his party faithful at their Calgary convention:

“We were blocked by the other parties in the minority parliaments, and now we are being blocked in the courts,” said Harper in a lengthy keynote speech to the Conservative party faithful Friday night….Harper’s designating “the courts” as an enemy appeared to . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Apparently, the courts are the new enemy of Senate reform

Scott's DiaTribes: Senate reform still desired over Senate abolition or status quo

Despite the Senate scandal deepening, it appears that for now, Canadians still prefer reforming the Senate over abolishing it, as indicated by this Ipsos-Reid poll from a couple of days ago. 49% of respondents indicated reform (and the Ipsos question on reform is worded as “..reformed to make it for example an elected body“) while . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Senate reform still desired over Senate abolition or status quo

Autonomy For All: No, The Senate is Not a Worthwhile Check on the Prime Minister

Far better ones exist.  I really don’t get where this idea comes from.  Can you name anything bad, ever that our Senate has prevented?  Did it prevent Trudeau’s Martial Law?  Did it stop the internment of Japanese Canadians?  Racist laws like head taxes on Chinese immigrants?  Aboriginal residential schools?  The death penalty? 

You might . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: No, The Senate is Not a Worthwhile Check on the Prime Minister

Autonomy For All: No, The Senate is Not a Worthwhile Check on the Prime Minister

Far better ones exist.  I really don’t get where this idea comes from.  Can you name anything bad, ever that our Senate has prevented?  Did it prevent Trudeau’s Martial Law?  Did it stop the internment of Japanese Canadians?  R… . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: No, The Senate is Not a Worthwhile Check on the Prime Minister

Scott's DiaTribes: My brief comments on the ongoing Conservative Senate Saga Scandal

You might have noticed I’ve not said much on the continuing allegations/bombshells being dropped in the Senate these days – with more bombs on additional cheques and PMO and PM involvement being dropped/alleged by ex-Con Senator Mike Duffy today.

At this point, I don’t really have much to add that you haven’t already read at . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: My brief comments on the ongoing Conservative Senate Saga Scandal

The Ranting Canadian: I’m sick of reading and hearing people say things like…

I’m sick of reading and hearing people say things like “It’s not fair to suspend those senators without pay, without conducting a full investigation and giving them their day it court.”

The dishonourable Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau have already been proven guilty of embezzling from the . . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: I’m sick of reading and hearing people say things like…

Politics and its Discontents: The Puffster’s Senate Speech

As much as I detest Mike Duffy and everything he stands for, I have to confess that in listening to his Senate speech yesterday I was much-taken with both its content and delivery. Thundering at his erstwhile allies and colleagues, Duffy rebuked the motion of suspension pending against him and Senators Brazeau and Wallin. . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: The Puffster’s Senate Speech

The Canadian Progressive: Sen. Pamela Wallin says Canadian Senate has a “lynch mob” mentality

by: Obert Madondo

Former Conservative Sen. Pamela Wallin. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

If there’s anywhere in the world an appointed public official more arrogant than Sen. Pamela Wallin, please let me know.

Wallin, an embattled former Conservative Senator, has repaid the $138,969 she fraudulently claimed from the Senate, plus $13,938.19 in interest. In case . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Sen. Pamela Wallin says Canadian Senate has a “lynch mob” mentality

Politics and its Discontents: Some Sunday Recreation

Think I’ll go out on my bicycle this morning. In the meantime, enjoy these letters on the Senate imbroglio found in yesterday’s Star:

Machiavelli wrote: “Those who governed the state of Florence . . . used to say it was necessary to reconstitute the government every five years . . . otherwise it was . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Some Sunday Recreation

Scott's DiaTribes: Referendum on Senate? Only if it includes all options – including a “reform” one

Michael Bliss, Professor at U of T, argues in the Globe today that the Senate must be abolished, and lays out why it can’t be reformed.

I’ll put aside that part of the argument for now; what I’m interested in is how he feels abolishing the Senate would be any easier then reforming it as . . . → Read More: Scott’s DiaTribes: Referendum on Senate? Only if it includes all options – including a “reform” one

The Ranting Canadian: Here is a blast from the past. A drunken, bloated Conservative…

Here is a blast from the past. A drunken, bloated Conservative senator Mike Duffy acts like a pompous, over-stuffed bag of Conservative shit, trying to defend Conservative overspending of our tax dollars by himself and 26 other recently appointed Conservative senators. NDP MP Peter Stoffer rightfully tears a strip off that Conservative porker. . . . → Read More: The Ranting Canadian: Here is a blast from the past. A drunken, bloated Conservative…