Canada Senate 2013 – 16

Written by  //  November 3, 2016  //  Canada, Government & Governance  //  1 Comment

Appointing independent senators: Leave the skepticism behind
Peter Harder, the Representative of the Government in the Senate
(lobe & Mail) It shouldn’t surprise anybody that there are still a few skeptics left criticizing the appointment of 21 new independent senators who will soon be taking their seats in Canada’s Parliament. For the first time in our country’s history, a plurality of the Red Chamber’s membership will sit outside party-controlled caucuses, and some Canadians will understandably wonder how the Senate will function without them. Other harsher critics will ask whether the new senators are really non-partisan at all, even though they have been appointed under a new, arm’s-length and merit-based selection process.
But as the Government Representative in the Senate, I am encouraged by the positive reaction that the appointments have gathered. After many years of the Senate being treated as a national punching bag, I sense an unmistakable sympathy among Canadians for real reform, fuelled by the high quality of the appointees themselves, all of whom are leaders within their own communities. …
When first conceiving of the Senate, Canada’s founders envisioned it as an independent chamber of sober second thought. The Supreme Court itself has frequently identified independence as the lifeblood of Canada’s Senate. In 1979, the court wrote, for example, that the clear intention of the founders was to make the Senate an independent body that could review dispassionately the measures of the House of Commons. In 2014, Canada’s justices added that the original intent was to remove senators from a partisan political arena that requires unremitting consideration of short-term political objectives.
2 November
A Senate highlighting the cream of the crop
(Maclean’s) As clunky and dysfunctional as the Senate is, experts say a prime minister cannot starve the institution to death rather than appoint new members. But a PM can do better than the usual Red Chamber-stacking with party hacks and bagmen. Trudeau’s new picks resemble a fresh round of Order of Canada honourees: impressive people with impressive resumés. There’s the first woman to lead the Ontario Provincial Police; there’s a co-founder of the Sikh Foundation of Canada and former big bank vice-chair; there’s a palliative care expert. It’s too bad nobody voted for them, but at least they are more deserving than past crops of patronage picks.
Justin Trudeau names 6 new senators from Quebec
Lawyers, public servants and a medical doctor among latest group of appointees. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has filled all vacancies in the Senate with six new appointments in Quebec.
31 October
Justin Trudeau names top cop, prisoners’ advocate as new senators from Ontario
Gwen Boniface, Kim Pate among Ontario appointees selected under new application, merit-based process
The first female head of the Ontario Provincial Police, a former federal court judge and a top women’s prisoner advocate are among the latest slate of appointees to the Senate.
27 October
Meet Canada’s 9 new senators
New appointments bring number of non-affiliated senators to 32
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of nine new independent senators Thursday, further bolstering the number of non-affiliated members in the upper chamber.
These appointments fill existing vacancies in B.C., Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. There are still 12 empty seats — six each for Ontario and Quebec — and those are expected to be filled very soon.
The senators will be formally sworn-in at a later date. They only learned Wednesday evening that they had been picked to sit in the upper house.
After Thursday’s announcement, the number of non-affiliated (or Independent) senators will rise to 32. There are 21 Liberals and 40 Conservatives. After the next round of appointments, Independents will make up the largest number of senators.
5 August
Senate recommendations ready for Trudeau’s eyes in weeks, says advisory council head
Senate appointments advisory council reached out to 800 groups and associations looking for star candidates
Now that the deadline has passed for ordinary people to apply to become a senator, it’s only a matter of weeks before a short list of candidates is sent to the prime minister for consideration.
Hugette Labelle, chair of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, says she is responsible for ensuring that five candidates are put forward for every open Senate seat.
At the moment, there are 19 open seats in the Senate across seven provinces:
British Columbia (1)
Manitoba (2)
New Brunswick (2)
Nova Scotia (2)
Ontario (6)
Prince Edward Island (1)
Quebec (5)
An additional vacancy opens this month when Michel Rivard of Quebec reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75.
The deadline for average Canadians to apply for a spot in the red chamber came and went as of Aug. 4 at 11:59 p.m. PT.
7 July
Want to be a senator? Feds now accepting applications for 20 Senate seats
(Global News) The Trudeau government announced at the end of last year a new process for appointing senators to the Red Chamber with the intention of restoring the Upper House
The Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments is now looking to fill 20 current and upcoming vacancies in seven provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
The deadline for applications is August 4, 2016 at 23:59 p.m. PT. According to the government website, preparing an application will take some time and applicants are encouraged to get an early start.
For more information on how to apply click here.
17 June
Campbell Clark: Independent, but unelected: a delicate balance of power in the Senate
(Globe & Mail) Senator André Pratte, the long-time La Presse editorial writer appointed three months ago by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, offered a blunt opinion of the Trudeau government’s assisted-dying bill.
“I am convinced the government is making a serious and cruel mistake by taking away the right to medically assisted dying from a group of patients, those who are not terminally ill yet suffering terribly,” he told his fellow senators on Friday. But Mr. Pratte was declaring he would vote for the bill.
After a back-and-forth argument between the House of Commons and the Senate, Mr. Pratte said he would accede to the will of the elected government. As for the bill’s cruel mistake – the government, he said, will answer for that to the public and, hopefully, in the Supreme Court. …
Senator Raymonde Gagné, who had not supported the major Senate amendment, said she would be inclined to bend to elected MPs in a showdown.
And Senator Murray Sinclair, a former judge, cautioned senators who insisted the bill is unconstitutional, warning no one can predict how the Supreme Court would rule – and arguing the government has a right to make its case. He said he would prefer for the government to give wider access to assisted dying. “I respect that they have the right to make that decision,” he said.
10 June
Assisted Dying Bill C-14: Senate Votes To Amend Legislation Again
(HuffPost) The Senate has passed an amendment to the Liberal government’s assisted death bill that would bar a beneficiary of a person seeking the procedure from helping in the process.
Senators are reviewing a number of proposed changes to the controversial legislation introduced in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark ruling on the issue.
An earlier amendment passed in the Senate would extend the right to assisted death to those suffering from non-terminal conditions.
28 May
‘Rushed’ assisted-dying legislation to face strong opposition in the Senate
Liberal, Independent senators signal they cannot support Bill C-14 in its current form
The Liberal government’s doctor-assisted dying legislation will face strong resistance in the Red Chamber, not only from the Tories, but from the very senators expected to help usher the bill through the Senate.
Liberal Senators Jim Cowan, Mobina Jaffer and Independent Senator Andre Pratte all signaled Friday that they will not support bill C-14 in its current form, saying its too much of a departure from the Supreme Court’s decision in the Carter case.
3 May
The ennui of Mike Duffy’s red-chamber redemption
Mike Duffy, loosed from the courts with all charges dismissed, returned to the Senate to work—or, at least, some absurdist interpretation of the term
Duffy, meanwhile, sat through it all like he’d never left the place. He seemed less interested in the proceedings than the members of the press gallery gathered to watch. He played on his computer and stroked the face of his smart phone, his reading glasses perched low on his nose. Presumably he’d not come to talk. Reports said he’d been seen eating lunch earlier in the day with Wallin, another broadcaster-turned-senator, and she popped over to consult with him several times during the afternoon.
It was, truth be told, like nothing had changed at all over the course of his absence
29 April
Will Mike Duffy’s return overshadow Senate reforms?
With the acquittal—and imminent return to work—of Sen. Mike Duffy, the upper chamber readies itself for a new role
21 April

All charges against Duffy dismissed, judge slams Harper PMO instead

(National Observer) Disgraced senator Mike Duffy was acquitted Thursday on multiple charges of fraud and breach of trust, among 31 charges that also included allegations related to accepting a bribe, in a ruling by Justice Charles Vaillancourt. … He said the evidence reasonably supports the conclusion that there was no meaningful training of senators by the government, and that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper had reassured Duffy that his Prince Edward Island cottage qualified as his primary residence.
(CBC) A judge has cleared Senator Mike Duffy of all 31 criminal charges and delivered a scathing indictment of the political operations of the office of former prime minister Stephen Harper.
He called the actions of the Prime Minister’s Office under Harper “mind-boggling and shocking.”
Justice Charles Vaillancourt said that Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright and other PMO staff executed operations with a precision that would make any military commander proud, all with the objective of containing political damage.
An acquittal for Duffy, an obliteration for Stephen Harper’s PMO
In setting Mike Duffy free, the judge used his incendiary decision to rebuke Harper’s inner circle—and give Canadians a lesson in the justice system
(Maclean’s) Vaillancourt hammered the Crown again and again, asking why prosecutors Mark Holmes and Jason Neubauer failed to call key witnesses whose evidence might have contradicted Duffy’s “straight forward evidence,” and why Holmes in particular failed to address key issues before the court—i.e., Duffy’s three bribery charges—during his cross-examination of Duffy.
The judge delivered an almost subversive indictment of the Senate as it had existed during the years at issue in the Duffy matter, then told court he was heartened things had changed, that the Senate was no longer as it was.
24 March
Scott Reid Casts Major Doubt On Liberals’ New Process For Appointing Senators
Ontario MP Scott Reid was responding to a report in The Hill Times that new Quebec Senator André Pratte, a former journalist with the Montreal daily La Presse, did not own property in the district he was appointed to represent.
The newspaper reported that Pratte has not completed the purchase of $4,000 worth of property — a constitutional requirement needed to sit in the Senate. Unlike in other provinces, Quebec senators must own property in one of 24 specific regions they are appointed to represent.


Trudeau appoints seven new senators
Mr. Trudeau announced on Friday that he is calling on Peter Harder, a retired senior bureaucrat and high-level corporate adviser, to be the Liberal government’s leader in the Senate. In addition to Mr. Harder, the six new senators will be:

  • Raymonde Gagné, former president of Manitoba’s Université de Saint-Boniface;
  • Frances Lankin, a minister in the former Ontario NDP government and a national security expert;
  • Ratna Omidvar, an expert on migration and diversity, and executive director at Ryerson University’s Global Diversity Exchange;
  • Chantal Petitclerc, a champion Paralympic wheelchair racer and Team Canada chef de mission at the Rio Paralympic Games;
  • André Pratte, an award-winning editorial writer and federalist thinker from Quebec;
  • Murray Sinclair, a retired Manitoba judge and former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools.

Mr. Trudeau’s six other appointees will be expected to act as independent-minded legislators, as the Prime Minister aims to eliminate partisanship in the upper chamber and improve its reputation.

In House – A new day in the Senate? Or is it lipstick on a pig?
Joël-Denis Bellavance: How do we rearrange the rules to suit the new reality of an increasing number of independent senators? The rules will have to be modified according to that.
Susan Delacourt: Interesting thing could happen, too, You’ll see people grouping around issues like you do in the United States. Coalitions will form around ideas rather than blind partisanship, which could be interesting.
JDB: Something to watch too is whether other Conservative Senators or independent Liberal Senators will want to join the independent groups. If that’s the case we will have achieve[d] a quiet revolution in the Senate.
How might an independent Senate work?
The Maclean’s Ottawa bureau gives a weekly audio debrief on Canadian politics
21 February
David Reevely: Whether he walks or not, Senator Mike Duffy’s glory days are over
(Postmedia) Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau face trials over their Senate expense claims. Pamela Wallin’s case is in limbo, waiting for the Duffy verdict. RCMP investigators have been poring over the files of 30 more senators identified as problem spenders by the federal auditor general. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau evicted Liberal senators from his party caucus even before things got really bad. Now he’s partway through a reform of Senate appointments that’s sometimes been clumsy and whose outcome even he doesn’t seem sure about. Duffy started a snowball downhill that won’t end until it’s rolled up a whole wing of Parliament.
Duffy is to the Senate as an acquitted Jian Ghomeshi would be to pop culture. Both of them, in different ways, are reminders of sick environments they inhabited and perpetuated, whether they walk or not.
19 January
Eminent Canadians to advise Trudeau on merit-based Senate appointments
The federal government has tapped eminent Canadians from academe, the civil service, medicine, law, arts and sports to advise Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on merit-based appointments to the maligned Senate.
The independent advisory board on Senate appointments will be chaired by Huguette Labelle, a former deputy minister in various federal departments and former chancellor of the University of Ottawa. [Odd that there is no mention that she also served as Chair of Transparency International and is a member of the Advisory Council]
She’ll be joined by two other permanent members: McGill University dean of law Daniel Jutras and former University of Alberta president Indira Samarasekera.
The board is to recommend a non-binding short list of five nominees for each vacancy in the upper house, of which there are currently 22.
The government has also named two ad hoc members from each of the three provinces — Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba — whose vacant Senate seats are to be filled first.


1 November
John Ibbitson: Trudeau’s proposal to appoint senators on merit looks promising
Under the new system, senators will be chosen more or less the way lieutenant-governors are chosen. A non-partisan panel of distinguished Canadians appointed by the federal government will confer with a similar panel convened in the relevant province. The two, working in co-operation, will send a shortlist of possible senators to the prime minister of the day, who will choose from the shortlist. The senator, if he or she accepts the invitation, will sit as an Independent.
There are problems with this idea, but there is also much promise. The greatest danger is that a clubby panel of insiders will choose from among their own. Mr. Trudeau will need to cultivate an open, inclusive and innovate approach to choosing panel members.
The panels must pursue the same approach in coming up with the shortlist. Nominees to the Senate should not just come from Bay Street. They must also come from Main Street and from the street. They should come from the boardroom and the shop floor, from the arts and the playing field, from the military and the laboratory. Citizens should all be able to nominate candidates and circulate petitions favouring their choice. The announcement of a new senator should surprise and delight.
Mr. Harper has left Mr. Trudeau a gift of 22 vacancies. The Liberals plan to take their time filling them. But a year or so from now, about one-fifth of the body will consist of senators chosen in this fashion. The former Liberal senators are also Independents now, whether they want to be or not. And if the Conservative caucus is wise, Tory senators will not participate in voting for the interim leader, which would promote independent thinking among those senators, as well.
Each year, the number of genuinely independent senators will increase and the angry, partisan rump will grow smaller. A decade from now, the Senate could be dominated by distinguished Canadians from many walks of life, examining and proposing legislation without partisanship, offering truly sound and sober second thought.
Yes, this leaves questions: about Question Period in the Senate, about the mechanics of debating and passing bills and especially about the relationship between the Senate leadership and the government. But all that can be managed.
28 October
Patrick Brazeau gets no jail time or criminal record following guilty plea
Former Conservative could be suspended again when Parliament resumes next month
(CBC) Sen. Patrick Brazeau has been granted an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to assault and cocaine charges in September, which means he avoids both jail time and a criminal record.
Brazeau still faces a criminal trial for fraud and breach of trust arising from his Senate expenses, scheduled to take place in March 2016.
When Parliament resumes after a Throne Speech now expected in December, Brazeau — and his other previously-suspended colleagues Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin — may face another suspension vote.
26 October
Tory senators could disrupt plan to change anti-terror act
(Ottawa Citizen) Liberal government changes to the Conservatives’ incendiary anti-terrorism law could face a bumpy trip through the Conservative-controlled Senate.
“There may be some things that Mr. Trudeau and some of his colleagues are very supportive of, but they may be matters that an overwhelming majority of Canadians are not comfortable with,” said Conservative Sen. Bob Runciman, who sponsored the controversial Bill C-51 national security legislation in the upper chamber in May.
Overhauling C-51, known as the Anti-terrorism Act of 2015, was a key Liberal pledge when party leader Justin Trudeau and his caucus voted in support of the Conservative bill in the House in the spring. Now that the Liberals will form government, sources say preliminary drafting of the changes is underway and that these will be tabled early in the new parliamentary session in concert with public consultations.
Other Conservative senators said the Liberal national security legislation will be given the same respect accorded any government legislation, especially from a majority government.
21 August
The frantic 24 hours ahead of Duffy’s payment-plan declaration
During his extensive testimony, Mr. Wright acknowledged that he did not fully grasp the implications of some of the decisions he had made while managing the controversy. But his early assessment of the situation, written in a Feb. 7, 2013, e-mail, has since proved accurate.
“Let this small group be under no illusion,” he wrote to senior PMO aides Mr. Novak, Mr. MacDougall, Mr. Woodcock and Joanne McNamara, who was then deputy chief of staff. “I think that this is going to end badly.”
14 August
Stephen Harper says ‘subordinates’ not responsible for Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy’s actions
Conservative leader faces questions arising from senator’s fraud trial, for 3rd day in a row
At Issue | Nigel Wright’s Testimony
Nigel Wright has finally testified at the trial of Mike Duffy. The At Issue panel has full analysis of today’s testimony and insight into where this story is leading.
Harper declines to explain apparent incongruity in Duffy story
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is dodging an apparent incongruity between his own narrative around the repayment of Senator Mike Duffy’s questionable living expenses and an e-mail written by Nigel Wright, Mr. Harper’s former chief of staff, who dipped into his own bank account to ensure that the money was refunded.
More than 400 pages of government e-mails pertaining to Mr. Duffy were released publicly this week. In one of them, written May 14, 2013, to a press attaché, Mr. Wright says, “The PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy when I was getting him to agree to repay the expenses.”
Mr. Harper has always insisted he did not know until May 15, 2013 – the day after that e-mail was written – that anyone but Mr. Duffy had reimbursed the government for the more than $90,000 in expenses. And he stuck to that story Thursday, skirting a question from a reporter who asked him to explain what the “broad terms” of his understanding of the Duffy repayment were prior to that date.
Wright cites Scripture to explain secrecy of Duffy paymenta bit much!
Nigel Wright says he had ‘obligation’ to pay Mike Duffy’s expenses
Harper’s ex-chief of staff testifies to start 3rd phase of the Ottawa trial of the suspended senator
10 August
Nigel Wright’s testimony represents a lose-lose scenario for Harper
Mr. Duffy’s trial resumes Wednesday, with Mr. Wright scheduled to be the star witness. Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff was called by Crown prosecutors trying to prove that Mr. Duffy took a bribe, and Mr. Wright is to testify he paid the money, to the tune of $90,172.24.
Mr. Duffy’s trial resumes Wednesday, with Mr. Wright scheduled to be the star witness. Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff was called by Crown prosecutors trying to prove that Mr. Duffy took a bribe, and Mr. Wright is to testify he paid the money, to the tune of $90,172.24.
Harper denies ‘good to go’ remark in Duffy affair
Mr. Harper replied that those were not his words. “They are somebody else’s.” he said. “I have said repeatedly, and I think the facts are clear, I did not know that Mr. Wright had made a payment to Mr. Duffy. As soon as I learned that, I made that public. And Mr. Wright has been clear about that.”
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he has demonstrated leadership by taking steps to ensure that anyone responsible for wrongdoing with regard to the controversial payment of Senator Mike Duffy’s expenses will be held accountable.
The long federal election campaign began its second week on Sunday, three days before Mr. Duffy’s trial on fraud, bribery and breach of trust charges is set to resume with the testimony of Nigel Wright, Mr. Harper’s former chief of staff.
5 things to know before Nigel Wright testifies at Mike Duffy trial
24 July
Stephen Harper vows not to make any Senate appointments
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is vowing not to make any more Senate appointments, an effort to distance himself from the scandal-plagued Red Chamber and to goad provinces into agreeing to reform or abolish the discredited legislative body.
“Let me be kind of blunt about this: The number of vacancies in the Senate will continue to rise, and other than some voices in the Senate, and some people who want to be appointed to the Senate, no one’s going to complain,” Mr. Harper announced after meeting Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall in Regina.
20 June
Mike Duffy trial: What we have learned so far
Defence has yet to present its case as the trial heads into its 3rd phase
The Mike Duffy trial had been allotted 41 days, but after nearly seven weeks of testimony in an Ottawa court, the Crown is still deep into building its case against the suspended senator.
In fact, when the case resumes in August after a two-month hiatus, the trial will hear from its first key witness — Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright.
During the first 35 days of the trial, the Crown has, unsurprisingly, focused on the bulk of the case, the charges of fraud.
Senate rules, such as they are
Some of that approach has made for some very dry testimony, as top Senate administrative officials took the witness box, at times questioned for days over the various reports and manuals related to Senate rules and regulations.
But the evidence is key, because for the Crown to prove fraud (and by extension breach of trust) it must prove that Duffy clearly broke Senate rules by expensing claims that were not for “parliamentary business.”
18 June
Mike Duffy trial adjourns, returns in August with Nigel Wright as 1st witness
Duffy’s judge-only trial, which began April 7 in the Ontario Court of Justice in Ottawa, has so far lasted for 36 days. The third phase will begin on Aug. 12, and continue until Aug. 28. The start date, originally set for Aug. 11, was later pushed back a day.
If more time is needed, the trial will break again, before restarting Nov. 18 and running to Dec. 18.


Senate expenses: what you need to know — Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin implicated in scandal that has gripped Ottawa
17 July
Mike Duffy faces 31 charges after months-long RCMP probe
(Globe & Mail) The RCMP have laid 31 criminal charges against suspended Senator Mike Duffy, levelling accusations of misspending by a Conservative appointee to the Red Chamber that will dog Stephen Harper as he prepares to fight an election in 2015. … The PEI senator will appear in an Ottawa court Sept. 16 on the matter, but a trial could take until the fall of 2015 to begin. The next federal election is scheduled for October, 2015, under the terms of a fixed election act, although Mr. Harper could call one earlier if he chose.
5 June
Mike Duffy’s P.E.I. hotel bills sought in RCMP probe
RCMP say documents show Duffy’s primary residence is Ottawa, not P.E.I.
(CBC) The RCMP says Duffy’s personal calendar shows he stayed at the Charlottetown hotel, the Delta hotel and the Great George hotel during his island stays.
Duffy’s assistant told Horton the senator’s cottage in Cavendish is not on the main highway and he preferred to stay in Charlottetown during winter storms.
4 June
Good news. Happy for Nigel Wright.
Nigel Wright set to return to Onex, CEO says
PMO’s former chief of staff left office amid scandal over personal cheque to Mike Duffy
22 February
Trudeau attacks rivals over ‘dangerous’ Senate reform promises
28 May
Roméo Dallaire resigns from Senate
“The international dimension of my work has shifted my sense of duties from the Senate here, and the nation, to the international sphere,” Mr. Dallaire told reporters the day after handing his resignation to the Governor-General. A loss to the Senate, but great gain for MIGS where he will continue to serve as as the Distinguished Senior Fellow. MIGS’ Statement on the Resignation of Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire from the Senate of Canada
20 February
Brian Mulroney suggests Meech Lake accord as model for Senate appointments
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau should consider giving provincial premiers the power to nominate Canadians to the Senate.
In an interview Thursday with Postmedia News, Mulroney pointed to the option as something he proposed in the 1987 Meech Lake accord.
Although that constitutional accord ultimately died in 1990, Mulroney noted that he had put the proposal into practice in the three-year “interim” period — acting on the nominations of three provinces that accepted his invitation to put forward names. He said it led to some superb senators being chosen.
Since then, he said, concerns have only grown about the power of the prime minister and the appointment of senators.
5 February
Gordon Gibson: Trudeau’s Senate plan is rash constitutional adventurism
Justin Trudeau’s Senate bombshell has three characteristics. First, a maybe – it may be politically popular. Second, a certainty – it is rash constitutional adventurism. Third and most important, it gives us a look – a disturbing one, in my opinion – into the mind and modus operandi of the man who would be prime minister. …
Recall that the Senate is co-equal with the House of Commons. It can initiate any legislation, save money bills (which it can amend), and more importantly, stop any Commons bill of any kind. That gives the Senate enormous blackmail power – which it has very seldom used, being made up mostly of political types who, understanding that the people’s business must be done, have been content to defer to the elected chamber.
Now, consider a non-partisan Senate. It has already been suggested that senators will become much more regional, pursuing their province’s interests without too much concern for the greater good. (Couldn’t happen? Cast your eyes southward.) Some in my province, British Columbia, have speculated that this might be a good thing. But think again, and imagine an alliance of senators from the poor provinces, who could easily outvote the rest. No measure would come up from the House without being tweaked to siphon money east of the Ottawa River. That would be senators doing their new job.
Even a federal budget might suffer. The Senate certainly has the power to refuse a budget until it gets what it wants, which might be one senator’s bridge for his hometown, another’s grant for her pet project and a third’s complete boondoggle. Alliances to raid the public purse will be quickly and easily formed in the new system.
This illustrates the other constitutional problem. Accountability is at the very heart of our system. How can you possibly hold to account more than 100 independent senators who can’t even be deselected in an election? The current party system provides for such accountability through the need for caucuses to get along. But Mr. Trudeau no longer has any leverage over Liberal senators. He might live to regret that, and the country would certainly live to regret the Senate he contemplates.
3 February
Bob Rae: Harper’s three big Senate blunders
Mr. Harper made several critical errors, fuelled in equal measure by hubris and a mistaken belief that his repeated championing of an elected Senate would bullet-proof him and his government from attacks on his “temporary” appointments to the red chamber.
31 January
John Pepall: Trudeau Senate plan: ‘a breathtaking confusion of stupidities’
Justin Trudeau’s edict dissolving the Liberal Party in the Senate and proclaiming the 32 Liberals there ‘independents’ is a breathtaking confusion of stupidities.
Who is Mr. Trudeau to tell senators whether they are Liberals or not? He told reporters the newly minted independent senators would “no longer be Liberal organizers, fundraisers, activists in any form.” So the senators can no longer be members of a riding association or make political contributions or ask others to do so? Will they be barred from talking to Liberals for fear that they might give advice on organization, policy or communication? Apart from the absurd impracticality of the idea, what about the right of all Canadians to be engaged in politics as they see fit? … For the future, Mr. Trudeau says he would “put in place an open, transparent, non-partisan public process for appointing and confirming senators.” Under the Constitution, senators are appointed by the governor-general, on the advice of the prime minister of course. Mr. Trudeau forswears any attempt to amend the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada may have something to say about measures that practically, though not legally, change the governor-general’s powers, when it gives its judgment on the Senate Reference. Who would choose senators openly, transparently and non-partisanly? Perhaps something like the Guardian Council in Tehran. And the reference to confirmation is wonderfully addle headed. Who would confirm the appointments? The Commons? The Senate? Both? It doesn’t bear thinking about and Mr. Trudeau obviously hasn’t thought about it.
16 January
Senator Patrick Brazeau fired from Frank Magazine after just one column for his ‘narcissistic ramblings’


13 December
Outspoken Tory Hugh Segal to take early retirement from Senate for Massey College post
I am indebted to Prime Minister Paul Martin for the appointment to the Senate of Canada in 2005 and am equally grateful to Prime Minister Harper for his support and counsel
In taking early retirement, Sen. Hugh Segal will leave another opening in the Tory ranks when he vacates his seat in the Senate in June 2014. … His seven-year term in the new position begins July 1, 2014. He will be sorely missed
10 December
Stephen Harper’s Senate Losers Club
(Press Progress) … let’s review the membership of the Senate Losers Club: 14 Harper-appointed senators who ran for a seat in the House of Commons, lost in a federal election, but were later appointed as legislators to Canada’s Upper Chamber as a ‘check’ on the elected House.
3 December
Lost and found PMO emails yet another Wright-Duffy plot twist
Forget the hockey book, Parliament is all wrapped up in its favourite mystery
24 November
Behind Nigel Wright’s fateful decision that darkened the Senate
(Globe & Mail) Eighty pages of documents filed in court this week by RCMP Corporal Greg Horton provide an unprecedented look inside the workings of the Prime Minister’s Office, the relationship between the PMO and the Senate, and the thinking of Mr. Wright as he attempted to diffuse the political turmoil. They include portions of hundreds of e-mails – whittled down from hundreds of thousands – and interviews with key players, including Mr. Wright. From that transcript and the e-mails, it is possible to piece together the tale though the eyes of the former chief of staff
22 November
Nigel Wright Had No Love For Mike Duffy, Despite Paying His Expense Claims
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) Why would the prime minister’s chief of staff go to such extreme lengths to protect Sen. Mike Duffy?
The question became all the more perplexing this week after documents filed in court by the RCMP revealed that Nigel Wright — and other senior staff in the PMO — thought Duffy was a liar, a loose cannon and a troublemaker.
20 November
Andrew Coyne: Stephen Harper and PMO’s reputation hangs by rapidly fraying thread
( get straight to the point — though it is hardly the point: Stephen Harper’s story, and with it his reputation and his office, have been hanging these past six months by the slenderest of threads.
That thread, which the Prime Minister has artfully arranged over his own head, is that whatever illegal acts his every senior aide, Senate leader or party grandee might have known, approved of, connived in, covered up and lied about, he, personally, did not know before a certain date that Nigel Wright, his chief of staff, had written a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Mike Duffy for $90,000 in improperly claimed expenses.
So: how stands that slender thread after today? Answer: still there, barely, but fraying by the hour. No, the RCMP affidavit does not produce direct evidence to prove him wrong on this question. But it demonstrates, more clearly than ever, how finely drawn and ultimately irrelevant it is.
19 November
Adam Goldenberg: Only an appointed Senate can keep Canada from making dumb laws
(Globe & Mail) We could elect senators – leaving aside, again, the minor technicality of amending the Constitution – but then there would be little to stop senators from falling prey to the same populist traps that ensnare Members of Parliament. Filling the Senate with elected politicians would reinforce the very problem that the institution is supposed to solve. Judges cannot protect us from laws that are popular, dumb, and constitutional – but Senators who need never make campaign promises or run for re-election might.
This is not merely fantasy or theory. In this space, last week, Gordon Gibson proposed a process for selecting senators similar to the one we use to appoint judges, based on a shortlist that would be supplied to the prime minister by a non-partisan panel. The government could ask the Public Service Commission, which oversees hiring and promotion within Canada’s independent civil service, to develop a process for advising the prime minister on the appointment of senators. Or the prime minister could adopt a recommendation put forward earlier this year by former Ontario finance minister Greg Sorbara and create a new Senate Appointments Committee, populated by distinguished members of the Order of Canada chosen by the Governor General, whose recommendations to fill Senate vacancies the prime minister would then treat as binding. The prime minister could also skip a step, and establish a precedent for only appointing senators from among the Order of Canada’s ranks.
A more independent appointments process could help to untether senators from Parliament’s partisanship. So could strict restrictions on whipped party-line votes, or the removal of senators from party caucuses, or rules against their participation in partisan politics – all of which were proposed by the NDP last month. Term limits could ensure regular transfusions of new talent, provided that they are not so short as to prevent senators from taking the long view in their deliberations. Eight years would be a reasonable minimum.
Together, such reforms would equip the Senate better to perform its core institutional purpose: to limit the possibility that the Commons will wreck the country as its members seek votes. An elected Senate would be ill equipped to play this part. An abolished Senate would have no role at all.
14 November
Gordon Gibson: Reform made simple: Pick senators the way we select judges
Let some great Prime Minister (will Mr. Harper step forward?) establish the precedent that with few exceptions, he/she will choose only from such lists. The provincial nominating bodies might be made up of members chosen by the governing and opposition parties in the local Legislature, by the municipalities, business and unions, the bar, universities and perhaps a few others. As with the court nominations, their work could be private and only for the eyes of the PM (which makes it easier for some to put forward their names), or it could be public.
This process would yield a truly respectable Senate. Yes, it would mark a diminution of the Prime Minister’s patronage powers, but that would happen under the alternative of abolition in any case. We would be better to preserve and improve a truly useful advisory body.
11 November
Provinces praise maligned, scandal-plagued Senate in top court hearing
(Canadian Press) A Supreme Court hearing on what it would take to reform or abolish Canada’s Senate is coming in the nick of time for the much-maligned upper house.
The arguments advanced by the provinces will be music to senators’ ears, which have been ringing for months with accusations of fraudulent expenses and corruption by four of their own.
Long derided as an unelected, unaccountable retirement home for party hacks, flacks and bagmen, the still-raging expenses scandal has prompted even longtime champions of Senate reform, such as Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, to join the campaign to do away with the red chamber entirely.
Against that backdrop, the top court’s three-day hearing, which begins Tuesday, will serve as a history lesson, reminding Canadians why the Senate exists and the importance of the role it plays in the country’s federation.
The factums filed by the provinces do not address the merits of abolition or Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s modest reform proposals, which would impose term limits on senators and create a process for electing them.
But the vast majority make the case that the Senate is too fundamental to the functioning of the federation to allow reform without significant provincial approval, or abolition without their unanimous consent.
9 November
Jeffrey Simpson: Could Harper do a Pierre Trudeau on the Senate?
Could Mr. Harper do a Pierre Trudeau, hard as that is to imagine? Mr. Trudeau, confronted with constitutional obstacles in the form of reluctant premiers, always said he could appeal “over their heads” to a wider national interest.
Mr. Harper isn’t given to those sorts of appeals on any issue. Ignoring premiers rather than beating up on them is more his style. If he thought some kind of national plebiscite on Senate abolition might further his party’s cause, however, no one should doubt that he would consider the option.

The Harper government wants to reform the Senate by limiting senators’ terms and enabling provinces to organize elections, the winners of which would be suggested to the prime minister for appointment. Ottawa’s lawyers argue that the federal government should be able to make these changes without provincial consent. Needless to say, the provinces disagree.
None of these Harper government ideas has anything to do with the Triple-E cry of the old Reform Party. Reformers, of which Mr. Harper was once one, wanted a Senate with directly elected members, an equal number of senators from each province and a body possessed of effective powers it could use.
Triple-E is dead politically. Almost nobody espouses the idea any more. It was never going to fly constitutionally. Electing senators and giving each province the same number of senators required a high degree of provincial consent, and that wasn’t going to happen.
7 November
Canada’s Senate scandal isn’t over yet: Walkom
Stephen Harper hoped that suspending Senators Mike Duffy, Pam Wallin and Patrick Brazeau would end the controversy. It hasn’t.
(Toronto Star) why are the three losing their Senate salaries for up to two years? Harper’s answer is that they claimed expenses they were not entitled to charge. The RCMP investigation may prove him right. But that’s not the real reason for Tuesday’s unprecedented Senate suspensions. The real reason is that this scandal is getting too close. It has embroiled the Prime Minister’s Office. It has touched the highest reaches of his party.
With the removal of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, Harper hopes to declare the affair finished. It is not.
5 November
Senate votes to suspend Brazeau, Duffy, Wallin
Vote on Liberal motion to refer expenses debate to committee, defeated
The suspensions are to last for the remainder of the session, likely until the next federal election in 2015.
It is the first time in Senate history a senator has been sanctioned in this way over expenses without being convicted of a criminal offence.
The Conservatives voted largely in favour of the motion for each senator, and the Liberals voted against, with some abstentions on both sides. As he indicated he would, Conservative Senator Hugh Segal voted against suspending Wallin, but also voted nay for Duffy and Brazeau.
The motion for suspending Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau allows the three to keep their health and dental benefits as well as life insurance.
2 November
John Ibbitson and Steven Chase of the Globe & Mail offer a thorough examination of the evolution of the problem(s) and possible final outcome(s).
How Harper became embroiled in the Senate scandal
How did a Prime Minister credited with being such a master political tactician get into such a mess? How, if at all, will Mr. Harper get himself out of it?
The Globe and Mail talked to people inside the government, and close to it, about how Mr. Harper has handled the growing Senate scandal. What emerges is a picture of turmoil in the Prime Minister’s Office following Mr. Wright’s resignation, of a government moving to contain one blow after another, and of a growing resolve within the government that the only way out may be to hold a referendum on the Senate’s abolition.
1 November
Chris Selley: How Stephen Harper created a crisis by badly mishandling Senate appointments
(National Post) In giving senators Duffy and Wallin a mandate to be very public, aggressively partisan figures, he invited the scrutiny that brought them down. The rules Mr. Harper carefully ensured he was in technical compliance with are now beside the point: People think the rules are stupid, they want blood, and the only option Mr. Harper sees is to give it to them.
“This whole story illustrates three chronic features of Harper’s style,” says [former Harper advisor Tom] Flanagan. “Playing hardball politics to the limit, exploiting rules to the limit, and then a strong degree of ruthlessness about other people if they become inconvenient, even if they’re people that you’ve worked extremely closely with in the past, and recruited yourself, and praised lavishly.”
The irony isn’t just the Senate Mr. Harper failed to reform is causing him nightmares. It’s by exploiting the same lax rules just as his predecessors did, or possibly even more, he may permanently have eliminated reform as an option.
31 October
Even The Economist has taken note
Canada’s Senate — Reform or death?
A scandal touches the government (from the Nov 2 print edition)
David (Jones)
Senate scandal: Reforming the upper house an unlikely proposition
The Senate epitomizes neither-fish-nor-fowl circumstances. It has real constitutional powers (Canadians should read their founding documents to appreciate the enormous power the Senate legally holds) but is terrified to use them. As democracy has permeated Western political systems, an unelected, appointed major parliamentary body lacks legitimacy. One cannot say that if the Senate wielded its constitutional powers and persistently thwarted the House that rioting Canadians would hang senators from the Peace Tower. But neither can one hypothesize that there would be no public/political reaction; indeed, Canada would probably face a political crisis. And the Senate, largely wishing to preserve its prerogatives and pleasures, has no interest in forcing its technical powers into destructive political confrontations.
The Senate has no constituency. It is purely a creature of prime ministerial appointments; these can drift for decades after the individual that appointed them has passed from the scene. There is no electorate to which a senator can appeal; not even a socio-economic group interested in a particular senator. Senatorial appointment is akin to a larger and more profitable Order of Canada. It is a final reward for being a good and loyal bag man/woman or a partisan that can be depended upon to toe the line delivered from the head of the party.
As such it is an anomaly Canadians can recognize but are unable to address effectively, given the constitutional and political restraints on action.
David (Kilgour)
Senate scandal: Let’s use this opportunity to change how Red Chamber works
Abolishing the Senate over the scandals would end the regional representational aspirations of outer Canadians for good.
Our Senate will either have to be reformed, presumably through a major constitutional amendment, or abolished altogether. It has never met the needs of the various outer regions or modern concepts of representative government. In any self-respecting democracy, one hundred appointees cannot pretend to fulfill a legislative role jointly with an elected assembly. Senators having no electors to face at elections in effect represent themselves, or more often in practice, their political parties.
The best-available second chamber model for Canada is probably the Australian Senate, partly because, like Canada, about two-thirds of Australia’s population lives in two of its six states. Both countries also share a tradition of parliamentary democracy and federalism. The Senate in Australia appears to function well.
In practice, increasing numbers of Australians vote for one of the two major parties in the lower house, but also for one of the minor ones or independents in the Senate. The most important role of the Australian Senate is to check the executive branch led by the prime minister, something Canada needs equally.
29 October
The Senate scandal poll: It’s AdScam redux
(iPolitics) The Senate spending scandal is registering strongly with voters and shaping up to be a truly frightening shock to this government’s prospects in the lead-up to their Halloween convention. Coming on the heels of a series of political setbacks, it’s putting the government in its most precarious position since it assumed office some seven plus years ago.
Stephen Harper has come back from adversity before — and it would be foolish to count him out this time. Never before, however, has he faced such a daunting challenge with such a meagre reservoir of political capital. These poll numbers reveal a number of modern records in our polling — none of them auspicious for the government.
Vote on Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau suspensions stalled
Senate won’t decide fate of 3 senators facing a ban and pay loss until at least Friday
Procedural wrangling in the Senate means a vote on whether three senators should be barred and lose their pay, won’t happen until at least Friday.
Conservative Senate Leader Claude Carignan bears some responsibility for the delay because he introduced motions to suspend his three colleagues last week, and then brought in another motion to limit debate time on his own motions.
… The motion to limit debate was supposed to be moved Monday, but for some reason it was not, meaning the vote on the suspensions will take place well after the Conservative Party’s national policy convention in Calgary has begun.
Harper heaps blame on former top aide for Senate ‘deception’
Stephen Harper, stung by new allegations in the Senate expense scandal, hung out to dry his former chief of staff Nigel Wright for quietly covering $90,000 worth of questionable expenses claimed by Senator Mike Duffy.
“On our side there is one person responsible for this deception and that person is Mr. Wright. It is Mr. Wright by his own admission,” the Prime Minister told the Commons during Question Period.
28 October
Even Sun Media!
In court of public opinion, Stephen Harper and senators losing
A new poll shows that when it comes to the Senate expense scandal, the court of public opinion has an early verdict — and it shows that all the senators involved as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be losers.
John Ivison: Harper had better hope Duffy is done and that there is no more
How is the Prime Minister to explain that his office was staffed by a parcel of rogues? He used to say of former prime minister Paul Martin that he either knew about the sponsorship scandal, and it was unconscionable, or he didn’t know, and it was incompetence. As more details emerge about how pervasive this scheme was inside the PMO, the more applicable one of those descriptors becomes.
27 October
Senate Tories could alter proposed expense claims penalty
Government Senate leader hints at different sanctions for 3 senators
(CBC) Claude Carignan told Radio-Canada’s television political program Les Coulisses du pouvoir he is open to amendments and wants to hear what members of his caucus think before the Senate debate on motions dealing with the penalties resumes Monday afternoon.
The suspensions, if approved, would be levelled against senators Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau, but Carignan hinted in the program broadcast Sunday there could be different sanctions for each of them.
25 October
Conservatives bruised by internal and external opposition: Hébert
Stephen Harper is more vulnerable than he was a short week ago, thanks to opposition, some of it inside his own party.
(Toronto Star) Anyone who remembers his or her school days knows that few events do more to undermine the authority of a bully than a successful challenge to the notion that he has the complete run of the schoolyard.
It is too early to know which, of the appeals to conscience and principle of Segal or the Mulcair-inflicted dents in the battered armour of the prime minister, will result in the most lasting damage to Conservative morale but the combination makes for a more vulnerable Harper than a short week ago.
Barbara McDougall: Why the Senate should be rebuilt, not abolished
(Globe & Mail) … The need for constitutional reform; approval of the provinces; the basis on which senators could be elected – there was, and still is, dissension on every issue. That’s why he wisely sent a reference to the Supreme Court asking what the federal government could do on its own. The Court’s response is due very soon, but too late to help with the current brouhaha. In today’s environment, the most popular action would likely be abolition, but for many thoughtful Canadians, that would be the worst option.
24 October
Wonderful, now the NYT has taken notice of the Canadian Senate
Dispute Over Canadian Senators’ Expenses Balloons Into Larger Political Scandal
(NYT) It began as a seemingly mundane dispute over expense claims from four members of Canada’s Senate, an appointed body rife with patronage and long a source of minor scandals. And while the amount of money involved is not vast, it has become a major political scandal for Canada’s prime minister and his government.
Michael Den Tandt: Stephen Harper chose latest Senate fight. The question is, why? (with video)
He had to know senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau would not back down
Beyond the bubble, a shooting war between Harper and three disgraced senators might be understood to help no one so much as Harper. Opposition statements or media coverage sympathetic to the senators’ plight – focusing, for example, on the arbitrariness of the move to cut them off, or the hypocrisy of shunning them for actions their own leadership apparently endorsed at the time – just further proves the “media elites” have it in for the Tories. It’s a classic wedge; possibly even a fundraising tool. Harper can now plant his flag on Main Street and blast the fat cats – people he himself appointed, but never mind that. It’ll play well at Tim’s.
Duffy, Wallin Debate Divides Tories In Senate
(Canadian Press) The Harper government’s bid for summary execution of disgraced senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau has turned into an agonizingly slow soap opera that is exposing a nasty — and increasingly personal — family feud within the ruling Conservative caucus.
Debate over government motions to suspend, without pay, the three erstwhile Conservatives continued to rage in the Senate for the third straight day — with no end in sight.
Thursday’s debate saw Marjory LeBreton, former government leader in the Senate, fire back at Duffy for alleging she was part of a “monstrous” conspiracy to intimidate him into accepting a secret deal to pay back ineligible expenses or face being disqualified from sitting in the Senate.
22 October
Stephen Harper could have avoided Mike Duffy woes by obeying the law: Walkom
Canada’s Senate scandal might have been short-circuited if the prime minister had bothered to follow the Constitution Act.
(Toronto Star) …  If he admitted his permanent residence was Ottawa, his eligibility to represent P.E.I. would come into question. This may explain the senator’s reluctance to repay $90,000 in housing expense payments that his Senate confreres said he had inappropriately claimed. It may also explain why Duffy repaid the money only after Harper’s then chief of staff Nigel Wright agreed to cover the cost.
Senator Mike Duffy, in his own words
(CBC) ‘I was ordered by the prime minister to pay the money back, end of discussion,’ Duffy tells Senate
At Issue panel dissects Senator Duffy’s bombshell speech
Panelist Bruce Anderson expects another day of interesting developments regarding Conservative senators’ position on the motion to suspend the trio.
“I think, given the revelations that Senator Duffy made today, it’s going to be very difficult for those Conservative senators to say, ‘No, come to think of it, we don’t want to hear any more about that. We just want to vote to get you out of the Senate.”
Added Anderson: “Ultimately … this really is a character question about the prime minister.”
Duffy says PM ordered him to repay expenses at meeting with Wright
(Globe & Mail) Senator Mike Duffy broke his silence in a lengthy speech to the Senate, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered him to repay questionable housing expenses during a private meeting the two had with Nigel Wright last February.
The allegation is the first time the three men have been placed alone in the same room in connection with the Senate expenses affair. The Prime Minister’s Office maintains that Mr. Wright, then chief of staff, acted alone when he gave Mr. Duffy $90,000 to pay back expense claims that were under investigation.
21 October
Harper counters new Senate questions with trade deal talk
(CBC) Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood in the House of Commons Monday to face questions over new allegations by Senator Mike Duffy’s lawyer.
Donald Bayne told reporters that emails show Duffy’s living expenses were approved again and again by the Senate’s Conservative leadership until the expense controversy blew up and Duffy was forced by the Prime Minister’s Office to accept a deal to repay his expenses.
But Harper offered no new information to address the claims by Bayne that the PMO coerced Duffy into taking money from Nigel Wright, Harper’s then-chief of staff, and orchestrated the government’s response to the allegations against him.
Mike Duffy’s lawyer says $90K cheque was a deal with PMO
17 October
Senators Duffy, Wallin to be suspended without pay for ‘gross negligence’ with expenses
The decision came less than an hour after Mr. Duffy’s office sent a press release announcing he would be taking a medical leave. Mr. Duffy wrote in a letter to the Speaker of the Senate that he was hospitalized in August because of unstable angina. He was told this week that the disease has progressed, he said, and his doctor suggested a leave of absence from work to “avoid further stress on my system.”
Senator Patrick Brazeau was also suspended without pay. All three senators will be barred from collecting living allowances, travel allowances and using Senate resources during the suspensions.
14 October
Senators want Harper government to address growing unrest in Senate Tory caucus
(National Post) But that’s not likely to happen, a move these senators say will do little to address growing unease and unrest in the Conservative Senate caucus.
Senior government officials say the throne speech, read out loud in the Senate chamber on Wednesday afternoon, will reference the government’s quest for Senate reform only in passing, but leave out any reference to specific plans because the Supreme Court of Canada has been asked to rule on how the red chamber can be reformed or abolished.
8 October
Mike Duffy friend paid $65K for ‘no apparent work,’ RCMP allege
(CBC) In the affidavit pertaining to Duffy, Cpl. Greg Horton says he believes Duffy “hired a friend as a consultant over an approximate four year period, and paid him a total of approximately $65,000 during that time, for little or no apparent work.” The money came out of Duffy’s  [taxpayer-funded] Senate office budget.
1 October
Tory Senator furious over CBC ‘hatchet job’ linking him to illegal political fundraising
(Globe & Mail) … Several weeks after that 2008 Quebec election, Housakos was among 18 people named to the Senate on the same day. Three of those nominees — Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau — have since left or been suspended from the Conservative caucus amid various scandals.
Conservative Senator Leo Housakos denies involvement in questionable fundraising in Quebec
19 July
Andrew Coyne: Reforming the Canadian Senate by first abolishing it seen by some as way forward
To be sure, reform remains the preferred alternative for many. But abolition is now seen in some quarters, not so much as an alternative to reform as the prerequisite for it. Considering the failure of the current efforts at reform, [Ted Morton, the former Alberta cabinet minister (and onetime elected Senator-in-waiting)] wrote in the National Post, “it might be better to adopt a two-step approach. First, wipe the slate clean by abolishing the current Senate. Then start from scratch in designing a new model for an elected Senate.” The prime minister himself is now said to be coming round to this point of view.
4 July
Senator Marjory LeBreton stepping down as Government Leader in Senate
(RCI) After working with four Conservative Canadian Prime Ministers since 1962, Senator Marjory LeBreton has announced she is is stepping down as Government Leader in Canada’s upper chamber the Senate, after more than seven years in the position.
27 June
Conservative senator’s amendment guts union disclosure bill
An amendment by Conservative Senator Hugh Segal was passed that changes a bill that would force unions to publicly disclose salaries and spending. In his own words: Hugh Segal on Bill C-377
and read Andrew Coyne’s response: Senate takes a principled stand — and shows why it has to go
27 February
Senate residency uproar continues as Harper holds the line
PM says senators conform to residency test as opposition questions eligibility
(CBC) After weeks of questions about living expenses and whether some senators live in the right province and qualify for their seats, CBC News found 25 of 104 senators either refused to say they had proof of their primary residence or wouldn’t respond to questions. Most of them — 21 — were appointed by Harper, who came to power in 2006 promising accountability and Senate reform.
13 February
Lysanne Gagnon: So what to do with the Senate? Maybe the way out would be to pack it with outstanding citizens chosen by a non-partisan committee of, say, university presidents, Order of Canada officers, Supreme Court judges and retired leaders from labour unions, businesses and aboriginal groups. Maybe then – just maybe – the Senate could gradually be transformed into a real chamber of sober second thought.
Jeffrey Simpson: Why would we want an elected Senate?
… The Supreme Court has already ruled that the composition of the Senate cannot be changed without provincial consent, which in the real world means no agreement, ever. Not content with the impossible, the Harper government suggests the improbable: that reform can occur if provinces set up elections for senators, as happened in the United States. But how many premiers, eager to speak for their provinces, will want elected senators vying with them for legitimacy as provincial spokesmen?

One Comment on "Canada Senate 2013 – 16"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson October 26, 2013 at 9:15 pm ·

    The one good thing about this all, however, has been a sharp uptick in interest among the hoi polloi in goings on in Ottawa; the question now is whether this will prove just a passing phase or a sea change; if it were the latter & were to serve to awaken the Canadian electorate from their Lotus eating-like political sleep walking, it would be great for politics in Canada but nightmarish for politicians. We can only hope! AMEN! Nick’s Gleanings #534

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