Earlier this week, Stephen Harper basically tried to make Senate Reform in Canada the province’s problem to sort out. More or less, he said that he wasn’t going to appoint any more senators until the provinces come up with a plan to reform or abolish the Senate.
Harper has finally figured out one thing – namely that Senate reform cannot be done by legislative fiat, nor can he simply bully his way through. Any meaningful reform has to have actual leadership to drive it. Harper doesn’t want to lead, he wants to dictate.
Basically, what Harper did was a (Read more…)
Heading into an election and with the three major federal parties within five or six points of each other in the opinion polls, the Prime Minister has decided that this is the time to talk about reforming the senate.
Stephen Harper said last week that he will not make any more appointments to the senate. His plan is to create a crisis and then either reform the senate or abolish it in the ensuing melee among and with the provincial premiers.
The New Democrats are flattered. They have already advocated abolishing the senate altogether. This is a popular idea in Quebec where the NDP are threatened by the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois. The NDP won its current status as official opposition in 2011 with a surprising haul of seats in the province as the Bloc vote collapsed and its supporters looked for a politically friendly home.
The sovereignists . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Smoke, mirrors, and Harper’s senate moratorium #nlpoli #cdnpoli
The National Post‘s John Ivison makes a good living floating trial balloons and framing announcements on behalf of The Harper Government, so his offering Thursday night certainly got the attention of official Ottawa: Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are expected to appear together Friday to call for the abolition of the Senate, according to a source familiar with their plans.
Now, if you believe that Harper woke up and decided to get serious about the Senate after a decade of doing nothing to reform or get rid of it — besides appointing a rogue’s gallery (Read more…)
Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall thinks that making the senate an elected institution that better reflects Canadians is too hard.
Rather than reform the senate, Wall wants to get rid of it altogether.
Wall thinks that the provincial Premiers should do the job currently done by the senate.
Here’s why no one should take senate abolition seriously.
Here’s why those proposing it don’t have the best interest of Canadians at heart.
Harper has taken a surprising number of losing cases to the Supreme Court of Canada. Most, if not all, were obviously places where the government’s position is one that is in direct contradiction with the Constitution of Canada. Even a relative neophyte in Constitutional law in Canada can spot that, whether it is Harper’s desire to “reform” the Senate or the government’s daft position on prostitution.
Now we have the CPC caucus starting to trot out the “undemocratic” talking points. Dan Albas, the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, says that while he respects the courts he also believes an increasing number (Read more…)
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that Harper doesn’t know how to read a legal decision. Yesterday, in Question Period, Harper said the following: “The Supreme Court has ruled in its wisdom that the federal government can neither abolish the Senate nor, in fact, can the federal government actually propose reforms — significant reforms — to the Senate,” Harper said in the House.
This is complete nonsense. The Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Government cannot unilaterally alter the Senate. In other words, the Supreme Court ruled that changes to the Senate require the government to work in the (Read more…)
In a withering assessment of Stephen Harper, that is the conclusion Andrew Coyne seems to draw in his National Post column:
We are so heavily invested, we media types, in the notion of Harper as master strategist, able to see around corners and think seven moves ahead and what not, that we tend not to notice how many times he has been screwing up of late. The sudden and more or less complete rewriting, on the same day as the Supreme Court decision, of the colossally misjudged Fair Elections Act, after weeks of waving off any and all criticism (Read more…)
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 ruling led him to petulantly declare that any meaningful reform or thoughts of abolition of the Senate was dead, and that the SCOC had ruled in favour of the status quo that no one wanted.
That led Athlia Raj, who is a correspondent at Huffington (Read more…)
Golly. I don't know who looked more more beaten or more pathetic today, Stephen Harper or Pierre Poilievre. It was too close to call.But what is certain is that both were humiliated beyond belief.Harper slapped in the face by the Supreme Court, and sent crashing to the canvas.
Stephen Harper threw in the towel on Senate reform Friday after the Supreme Court slammed the door on his hopes of a quick fix for the scandal-plagued upper house. His hapless stooge Poilievre forced to walk like a burro backwards on his Unfair Elections Act.Read more »
It wouldn’t be surprising if Prime Minister Harper was in a bit of a funk over the Supreme Court’s decision on the Senate this week. The Court unanimously rejected his government’s attempt to transform the Senate into an elected body and to set term limits, saying that such basic changes require the consent of at least seven provinces and half of Canadians. For Mr. Harper, this was fifth straight
The Supreme Court issued their ruling on the Senate Reform Consultation questions that Harper put before them last year.
In a unanimous decision released Friday, eight judges of the top court concluded that implementing fixed terms for senators or provincial elections for Senate candidates would require the consent of seven provinces representing half the population. The government had asked whether it could legislate these changes on its own.
On the key question of how the Senate could be abolished, the court said the consent of all the provinces would be necessary.
The only reform the government can (Read more…)
Historically, big changes in governance often occur in a period of rapid debate and change, following a long period of relative inaction while structural pressures build. For the Senate, the problems regarding the institution have been clear for a long time, but prospects for change have been dim. Complaints about the system and the occasional proposal for change are uttered here and there, but they didn’t command centre stage.
In the last year, however, there has been a confluence of factors that make the prospects for change increasingly likely. Firstly, Harper won a majority government. A long time critic of (Read more…)
Thomas Mulcair gives the impression that he relishes the views of some of him as a tough guy. In Question Period, faced with a cornered Prime Minister Harper who has to appear (sometimes) and answer questions (even if with non-answers), Mulcair is the diligent, remorseless, forceful, and effective cross examiner. He shows that he has done his homework. He shows that he fears not his wily opponent. And he shows his obvious enjoyment in the detailed, meticulous and vast interchange of the minutia of political give and take and policy discussions. This is a man who revels in (Read more…)
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 aside whether this is good or bad thing for the state of Canadian democracy, this post is just about the tactics.
The perennial problem for opposition leaders is that there is little they can actually do. They can huff and puff about what the government’s leaders (Read more…)
Tweet Is the Senate of Canada broken? And if so, is it worth saving? Here are the positions held by Canada’s federal political parties: 1) Abolish the Senate The New Democratic Party of Canada, the official opposition since 2011, are staunchly in favour of entirely abolishing the Senate of Canada. “Unelected party hacks have no […]
Yesterday, Justin Trudeau gave Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair migraines. Micheal den Tandt writes:
In one bold, risky and unexpected gambit, Justin Trudeau has turned the national debate about the Red Chamber on its head, blasted a crater-sized hole in the Conservative government’s strategy to sell its version of Senate reform, and forced NDP leader Tom Mulcair to play catch-up on his marquee issue.
Trudeau knows that the Supreme Court will rule that the Senate cannot be reformed without the participation of the provinces. He also knows that Harper doesn’t negotiate with the provinces. He knows too that, while (Read more…)
I think everyone was surprised by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s move this morning – particularly 32 Senators – that he was removing all Senators from the Liberal parliamentary caucus, and that as Prime Minister, he would only appoint Senators selected through a non-partisan review process. (Read Trudeau’s statement: Ending partisanship and patronage in the Senate) Let me break down my reaction into two areas: the politics, and the policy. The Politics Politically, this is a brilliant move. For a leader who has been unfairly accused of lacking policy substance, here is bold, substantive action. For an issue – Senate (Read more…)
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 said the former members of the Liberal Senate caucus will sit as Independents, and they will have no formal ties to the Liberal parliamentary machinery apart from through their friendships…The move stunned both Liberal senators and senior Liberal Senate staffers, who had not been formally (Read more…)
A few thoughts here on today’s announcement by Justin Trudeau that Liberal Senators will no longer be part of the Liberal caucus and are now to sit independently.
One of Trudeau’s lines that stood out for me was this one: “At our best, Liberals are relentless reformers.” Recently, on the death of Jim Coutts, an opinion piece he wrote in 2004 was circulated, and in it, we found this: “The current policy markers of the Liberal party have evolved over time and are fairly familiar to many Canadians. The most crucial Liberal markers are these: Reform, which is so (Read more…)
Keith Beardsley is a Tory insider. Smart guy. Not obviously insane. His angle on Justin’s shock announcement this morning is surely worth noting:
It will…be interesting to see how the Conservative Senate caucus responds. How many of them will decide they would now like to become independent like their former Liberal colleagues? If enough Conservative senators decide to sit as independents it will change the dynamics of getting legislation through the upper house. The government side would be faced with convincing individual senators of the merits of legislation, rather than being able to demand loyalty to pass legislation.
As (Read more…)
It’s rare that something happens in Ottawa that truly surprises everyone. Despite having spent the last year talking about the senate over and over again, it’s safe to say very few saw this coming:
Trudeau leads on Senate Reform: Liberal Leader takes concrete action to remove partisanship and patronage from the Senate
OTTAWA – The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement:
“Canadians expect their leaders to be open and honest with them, and they expect us to come forward with practical solutions that address problems directly. The Senate, through extreme patronage and (Read more…)
We don’t know what will make headlines in 2014. After all, most political predictions are about as accurate as a Forum poll.
So I won’t try to guess how 2014 plays out, but here are a few things we can reasonably expect to see this year:
With the new electoral map coming into force, all parties will begin nominating candidates, as they gear up for the next election. And since the media loves election speculation, there will no doubt be more rumours of the 2015 election being moved up to 2014 – though I can’t imagine Harper would want to (Read more…)
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 is that we are (relatively) unburdened by the kinds of systemic corruption that plagues other polities. Cases of direct financial payoff – suitcases full of cash changing hands in empty parking lot in exchange for political favours – is relatively low. Where in countries with far (Read more…)