Harper's new plan: Triple U-Senate

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Daniel Grice
Harper's new plan: Triple U-Senate

Harper now supports a Triple U Senate: Unelected, Unequal, and unqualified.


Wow, Harper's master plan on senate reform seems to have changed from reforming to plumping.  He must be ready to retire or feel he is getting close to defeat.

Amongst his new found patronage spots are a former aid, the current Conservative president, and the Husband of one of his cabinet ministers.


Daniel Grice

The other silly thing is his notion that he needs to appoint Senators who support Senate Reform. Meaningful Senate Reform cannot happen without a constitutional amendment.


Harper does not need to appoint Senators to initiate a reform process. Under the Constitutional Amendment act a Senate Reform bill can bypass the senate if it is reintroduced after 6 months.

(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada made by proclamation under section 38, 41, 42 or 43 may be made without a resolution of the Senate authorizing the issue of the proclamation if, within one hundred and eighty days after the adoption by the House of Commons of a resolution authorizing its issue, the Senate has not adopted such a resolution and if, at any time after the expiration of that period, the House of Commons again adopts the resolution.

Frankly, he is misleading Canadians by blaming the Senate for stalling legislation. 6 months and they can skip the Senate.


[tongue in cheek]This is where the mature and sometimes sober white boys' clique really get a chance to shine.[/so to speak]

David Young

Perhaps Harper as been delaying calling the by-elections in the vacant Commons seats because he might be planning to appoint an sitting M.P. or two to some of the vacant Senate seats, and then call all of the by-elections at once?

David Young

Nope!  No Senate rewards for sitting M.P.'s!

Let's see who's in:

Nova Scotia - Kelvin Ogilvie (Who Dat?)

New Brunswick - Carolyn Stewart-Olsen (Harper hack)

Quebec - Claude Carignan (failed Tory candidate)

           - Jacques Demers (ex NHL coach)

           - Judith Seidman (Who Dat?)

Ontario - Doug Finley (Harper Hack)

           - Linda Frum-Sokolowski (brother of conservative guru David Frum)

Nunavut - Dennis Patterson (ex-N.W.T. Premier)

Manitoba - Don Plett (President of National Conservative Party)

And this from a politician who campaigned vehemently against such partisan appointments by the Liberals.

Hypocracy, thy name is Stephen Harper!




Its business as usual. Harper needs to follow through on Supporting the Abolition of the Senate. Senate Reform is a constitutional mess and will not be supported in Quebec. But.... Abolishing the Senate will be popular amongst the population and the Provinces.

Abolishing the Senate also has the support of the NDP and the BQ.

Reform is a dead parrot.

Daniel Grice

Having a democratic senate like Australia's (Regional PR Lists), isn't too bad.  

Provides full time elected representatives who are free from constituency work, and can focus in on the merits of the legislation.  Abolition of the Senate without reforms to the house allows a party supported by a minority of Canadians to have unilateral powers.



The United States has Senators too. NO THANKS.  Our Provinces had Upper Chambers and they have been Abolished.
Its time to do away with the waste.

It's a safe bet that Phalen's Senate replacement will be appointed

Cape Breton Post

Wed 18 Mar 2009

Byline: Darrell Kyte

A Triple-E Senate would mean Prince Edward Island, with a population
of about 136,000, would have the same number of senators as Ontario.
This would be similar to the U.S. system in which Vermont, with a
population of just over 600, 000, has the same number of senators as
  Attempting to give the Senate democratic legitimacy by electing
senators in provincial elections would fundamentally alter our system
of governance. An elected Senate would, rightfully, believe it had as
much right to represent the public as does the House of Commons. The
Chamber of Sober Second Thought would become a partisan hothouse. It
is not clear such a chamber would serve the interest of Canadians.
To their credit, the federal NDP called for a referendum on Senate
reform in late 2007. NDP Leader Jack Layton suggested the Senate is "a
19th century institution that has no place in a modern democracy in
the 21st century." The provinces of British Columbia, Ontario,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba advocate abolishing the Senate as well.

It is time to seriously consider abolishing the Senate. We must ask
ourselves whether we need this anachronistic, superfluous body. Rather
than promote election to our outdated upper chamber, reformers should
seek its abolition.

Darrell Kyte is an instructor in political science at Cape Breton
University. We welcome your comments on Political Insights or any
other material appearing in the Post. Write to Letters to the Editor,
Cape Breton Post, 255 George St., Box 1500, Sydney, N.S. BIP 6K6; fax
(902) 562-7077 or e-mail [email protected]

Glad I came across this.
Senate Reform is a DEAD PARROT. But there is more support for Abolition.


No but your word usage could be better. Or you will be abolished from babble.

The senate is a waste of money it will either replicate the house(and do nothing) or being so regional unbalanced that it would be much less than democractic(the whole suppposed point to reformation.) 

It's an albertan conservative hobby horse because they feal unloved by the rest of the provinces for all the money they pump to us "eastern bastards"(Freeloading if east of ontario). I feel bad for the non sheep albertans that have watched thier environment turned to mud and for half thier heritage fund destroyed in just one year while the rest of the sheep say it is socialist that are bad money managers...Oh I forgot that Stelmach and Harper have nothing to do with conservatives or Alberta. Maybe one more round of cons will fix it(that or oil prices going back up) conservatives are the worst money managers yet people think they are such fiscal warriors.

So because their voice(wrongheaded NEOcon values) aren't represented in the ROC they want to have equal representation from all provinces, not sure for terrirtories, but will happily stack the upper chamber with loyalist because hey they are in charge so I guess it's OK. IT is worse patronage than the libs because the libs aren't the ones pounded the table about how the senate needs refrom. Oh yeah I forgot they all pinky swear to refrom it once the cons get a majority. I guess they can't assume they would get the needed half dozen sick and or turncoat libs to get legislation through. So might as well not even try right, right.

Change is only needed until you have the levers of power, then pork barrelling all around. Yee Haw! Hey you ran for the party, here is a 40 year free lunch on Adolf Harper just remember to always vote yes for petromilipharma INC. Or any old company from the states.

Daniel Grice

The US had teachers too.  Should we abolish teachers?   What a fallacious line of reasoning.


Daniel Grice

The US senate and state senates are a poor model for bichameralism. However, there are other examples of bichameralism such as Australia where the Senate plays a more representative role.

One of them is recognizing that there are individuals who may play a meaningful role in governance, but may not wish to take on constituency responsibilities. The other is detaching what is good for a riding fron what is good for the area.

Having a PR senate where you can run a few experts who can focus entirely on legislative or executive has benefits.


The senate is an appointed body that regularly and with glee interfers with legislation passed by an elected body.

The senate, and all senators, are an affront to freedom, a living insult to all those who contribute to this society.


And, that's the nicest I can say within the bounds of the criminal code, babble policy, and my own code of conduct prohibiting the comparing of people to invertibrates, parasites and sexually transmitted diseases.



V. Jara

I'm guessing the main reason you like Australia's PR senate is because it is the one meaningless place Greens can get elected down under.


Canada's two old line parties love over-bloated, expensive, out-dated and useless government bureaucracy. Even with Homeland Stupidity, I think Canada still has more government per capita than the USSA.

Daniel Grice

My interest in governance and reform predates my partisan activities which are actually relatively recent.  

However, with power so centralized in an unelected executive (PMO) in Canada and our MPs absolutely beholden to party leaders, I am very nervous about removing even a nominal cheques and balance our constitution offers.  

Nearly every single constitutional discussion from the Ancient Romans, Greeks, to modern democracies has been concerned with what is the best way to represent people, and what is the moderating aspect to put a check on personal ambitions and are inherent lust for power.

I think it is ridiculous that the PMs friends get given $132K+ for life, however, even if the Senate every 10 years can block or stall a piece of draconian legislation made up by a government elected with only 37% of votes, it is useful.  

There are a lot of variations to democratic institutions.  The Australian Senate is a great example because it is quite representative (using a PR/List STV system) of the population in general.  

This means that any laws approved must have the support of people representing the will of roughly 50% of the voting population, which serves as a filter on bad legislation.  

Ireland has a neat Senate arrangement, which serves more like a real revisioning house, in that the Senate is appointed but from different aspects of society.  The PM gets to appoint a few reps.  Each of the Universities has a handful of seats they get to appoint, and then there are a bunch of sectoral seats representing industry, labour, and a few others. Since there lower house uses STV, the bills are already given a mandate of 50%.  Their senate only has authority to delay legislation or sent it to a referendum.

A lot of other Senate's our elected by lower legislatures, so as to give the regions a voice.  I think India's is done by their states.  Germany has a similar set of State Representatives who serve a role in prescreening legislation.  I'm less enamoured by these systems.





Yes, and Fidel is absolutely right.  Our cabinet is nearly double the size of Barack Obama's and ministerial salaries are higher in Canada despite the US having 10 times the population.

Daniel Grice

While I'm not a strong MMP supporter (despite that is would benefit my party the most, if not almost exclusively..), if we had STV or MMP in parliament so that government required roughly 50% of the popular vote to pass a bill, at least then there would be some inherent internal balance. 

However, the parallel system has caught my eye as of late.  

I like the notion of the upper house being an executive council and the lower house remaining a popular assembly.  

With the upper house, parties could run their key leadership and cabinet teams, and we could have a much smaller governing body that could focus on executing legislature.  They could be free from constituent duties, and focus entirely on legislating without having an inherent conflict between winning their own seat and making judgements on behalf of the whole country.  Particularly having positions such as the finance minister not dumping huge new projects into his own riding.

The lower house would still have constituency representative, ideally with some sort of AV/STV hybrid. Their job would be to represent their constituents and their needs in government, and as added accountability, would be the originator as now, of finance bills.  Some sort of dispute resolving mechanism would be needed.  

One of the reason for this, is that I'm pretty sick of government engaging in blacktop politics and key cabinet ministers earmarking huge amounts of $ for their ridings.  I think that aggravates everyone. If we need to spend money on social services or projects based on merit that is one thing, but largesse is another.



Why would anyone be upset by this as Harper is just following tradition.


Daniel Grice wrote:
The US had teachers too.  Should we abolish teachers?   What a fallacious line of reasoning.


 If you took the time to edit your comment, you could have done  much better in the response. I view the Senate as a waste of money and an overhyped institution. The edited article demonstrated what the realistic possibilities are with regards to Senate Reform, Status quo and Abolition.  Abolition of the Senate came out as the strongest reform and  the one with the best chance of succeeding. It also makes alot of sense.     

You can make your case till your blue in the face, but it will come down to one of two choices. Status Quo or abolition.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tommy_Paine wrote:

The senate is an appointed body that regularly and with glee interfers with legislation passed by an elected body.

The senate, and all senators, are an affront to freedom, a living insult to all those who contribute to this society.


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/comment/973320/If-I-really-thought]Here's[/url] what I had to say the last time we debated this:


If I really thought the House of Commons was at present a democratic institution, I would be happy to see the Senate abolished, as being a potential drag on the implementation of the democratic will of the voters.

But that's fairy tale talk.

Anything that can possibly act as a brake on the power of the Harpers and the Ignatieffs to ram through their repressive legislation is welcome to stay, as far as I'm concerned.

It seems a trifle hypocritical for people to say we need major electoral reform to make the House more representative of the will of the voters, but until we get that reform we will abolish the only possible body that can delay or thwart the undemocratic passage of bills by the House! Will any of us sleep better at night with a Harper government, knowing the Senate has been abolished?


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/comment/973485/Malcolm-wrote-Your]And this:[/url]

...if you're looking for hypocrisy, you need look no further than those who want electoral reform because the Commons gives too much power to a party that has less than majority popular support, but then want the Senate to disappear so that the phony majority in the Commons will have the final say on all matters.

"The food here is lousy - and the portions are too small."


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/comment/973541/Fidel-wrote-When-have]And this:[/url]

Fidel wrote:

When have they [the Senate] ever stopped a right-wing big business agenda in Ottawa?

Um, the post-Morgentaler abortion bill (see above). They held up Mulroney's GST bill. They killed the Harpocons' plan to use the withdrawal of tax credits from Canadian films as a tool for censorship, after the asleep-at-the-switch opposition passed it in the Commons.

Get back to me when they start blocking the passage of progressive legislation, and I'll join the call for their abolition. Oh, wait - there won't be any progressive-and-controversial legislation coming from the Harper and Iggy government(s) for the foreseeable future. Silly me.

The House of Commons is a bigger "abomination of democracy" because it pretends to be democratic and actually has millions of Canadians fooled.


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/comment/973770/hunter-s-wrote-Are-you]And this:[/url]

One would expect that left-wing Senate abolitionists would be able to rhyme off a list of crimes and misdemeanours committed by the Senate in support of their campaign to make its abolition one of the top priorities for a Koalition deal with Harper.... They can't rhyme off such a list, because it doesn't exist. The only time the Senate makes any difference at all is when they stand up to the ruling party in the Commons. Why would I want to protect the ruling party from that?


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/comment/974908/StuartParker-wrote-M]And this:[/url]

Perhaps someone can enlighten me and point out how the Senate has played a more reactionary role than the House of Commons, and how we'd all rest easier in our beds at night if there were no Senate but just a House of Commons.

So far, in 106 posts, nobody has been able to do that, whereas I have been able to show that, historically, the Senate is either irrelevant, or on rare occasions a useful brake on the right-wing designs of the governing party in the Commons.


That's all. I have nothing more to add.


Conservative Strategists are pretty smart.
"A top Conservative strategist, speaking on background, dismissed public backlash to the Senate appointments
"I just don't think people care,"
They got that right.


"Two minutes for pandering: Harper is way offside in appointing Jacques Demers to the Senate"


With admirable candour, Jacques Demers, who dropped out of school after Grade 8 and was functionally illiterate until four years ago, admitted that he doesn't follow politics and knew nothing about his new job ...

For that, all he has to do is to trust the Conservative whip to tell him when to show up and how to vote - RDS's schedule permitting.  That's one reason Demers was named. Another was so that his high profile and the inevitable controversy over his lack of qualifications would distract attention from his fellow appointees, many of them Conservative ex-pols and backroom boys and girls. In the time-honoured tradition of the Senate, they will continue to serve their party, only now on the public payroll ...

Such is the affection for Demers that commentators generally criticized Harper for making the appointment, but not Demers for accepting it. It was as though Demers was too naïve and politically inexperienced to realize that Harper was using him ...


Wilf Day

Claude Carignan belongs in the House of Commons, not the Senate.

In the nine ridings north of Montreal (Laurentides--Lanaudière region), the Bloc elected all nine MPs. But they got only 50.5% of those votes. In a democratic voting system that's enough for five MPs, not all nine. Conservative voters cast more than 15% of those votes last year.

Claude Carignan was well known: Mayor of Saint-Eustache since the year 2000, vice-president of the Union of Quebec Municipalities, and a former law professor. He got almost 20%, more than any other Conservative in the region. If Conservative voters could have elected one regional MP in an open-list mixed system, he would likely have been the voters' choice to represent them.

Instead, he is an appointed Senator, representing no one but Stephen Harper.

Of course, the other three regional MPs would have been two Liberals and one New Democrat.