A Canadian's perspective on domestic and international issues. Independent coverage of Canadian federal, provincial and municipal elections and anything of interest in Canada.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Senate Reform Not On Harper's Agenda

A while back I received a comment on a piece I wrote about the need to do away with the Governor General. The writer, someone calling his or herself, the Radical Monarchist, argued that having the GG saves us from the unelected senate.
Personally, I don't know how anyone can argue that having an unelected appointee as head of state is better than having an elected head of state. Then again, these days, common sense doesn't seem to play much of a role in political argument. What seems to matter more is the ability to complicate issues to the degree that people just give up trying to figure things out, and accept the status quo, because its easier than fighting the status quo. "Acceptance", these new age pundits tell me, is the "key" to peace.
To follow the logic through, if a man is beating me about the head with a stick, I am better to just let him, because it will bring me peace quicker than fighting back will! To be fair, the argument makes some sense. If I just let the man continue beating me, I'll likely be dead soon, and there is some peace in that!
Way back in history, when I was a bona fide member of the media, I rode the Reform Party campaign bus in the days of Preston Manning. One of the main arguments Preston and his boys were beating like a dead horse, Stephen Harper included, was the need to reform and elect the Senate.
Now imagine, if Manning and his crew had succeeded in actually reforming and electing the senate, and based it on modern senates around the world, where not only are the senators elected, but the voter is given the opportunity to elect a chair, or president, of the Senate. If that had happened, Mr. Harper would have had to take his request for prorogue to the Senate, instead of to the stylin' lap dog he himself appointed to the GG's chair! Chances are, if he'd done that, he'd have met with the same response he would have won if he'd asked Parliament for the prorogue!
Yes folks, that means we'd now have a Liberal-led minority, with Mr. Harper in opposition!
Mr. Harper's claim, that he is merely trying to restore some "balance" to the Senate, and has chosen "reformers", is just more of the infamous double speak we've come to expect from him.
What Mr. Harper is really trying to do is increase the number of like minds in the Senate, so he can have his future legislation "rubber stamped", just as previous Liberal governments were able to do!
(Yes, I can hear the pundits on that side of the aisles crying, fair is fair, they had it their way, why shouldn't we?). But herein is the problem. The old way didn't work. It ultimately led the way for the formation of the Reform Party, and for their eventual co-opting of the Conservative Party! And if things continue as they are, it will lead to a similar amalgamation on the other side!
Mr. Harper earned his place in Canadian politics by appearing to be some sort of freedom fighter. He was going to end the legacy of entitlement in Ottawa. And one of the ways he was going to do that was by overhauling the Senate and making it elected! Now he has power, what does he do? He reinforces the status quo by stacking the Senatorial deck!
Conservative spin doctors are now explaining that Senate Reform would require too much work, that it is in fact, next to impossible to achieve. So, they say, we should work within the system that is already in place, but that's not what Mr. Harper was saying before he came to power, is it? Before he came to power Mr. Harper was saying it should be reformed, in no small part, so future governments could not stack the deck as he has now chosen to do!
There are some in this country who would like to do away with both the Senate and the GG. The NDP want the Senate abolished all together, and that's partly what keeps me from ever becoming a member of their party.
What really needs to happen, is Canadian governance needs to start reflecting Canadian political reality. Canada is unique in the world, with its large land mass and small population (for most countries it is the other way around). What we need is a system of representation that mirrors the Canadian reality.
For me, the solution is simple. First, we fire all current Senators, and the GG. Then we elect a new Senate, with every province and territory having equal representation in it, say five Senators per province and territory. That's five seats from each of the 13 provinces and territories, that's 65 seats. Then, we elect a President of the Senate, from the masses. Someone to chair the upper house and to occupy Rideau Hall, in sort of a domestic head-of-state role.
Doing this would result in several savings for the Canadian people. First, and most obvious, the number of senate seats would be pared dramatically, so we'd have to pay a lot less in wages, salaries and pension benefits. Secondly, it would give every province and territory equal voting weight, so the Regional District of York would have the same number of votes as Regional District Central Kootenay, thus balancing the population based parliament, against the rural land mass, and sparsely populated regions. Thirdly, no parliament or Prime Minister, would ever again be able to manipulate the GG, or to use an unelected official to prevent him from losing his job, or forestall the day to day operations of the house.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of all, would be the final end of the Monarchy in our democracy. Monarchy is the antithesis of democracy. It is the BIG roadblock that keeps democracy from being truly democratic. As long as the Monarchy, and its unelected emissaries are the de-facto heads of our government, we will never truly be a Democracy. We will always be subjects, under the rule of others, and not citizens of a truly free society.
Mr. Harper's recent Senate appointments do little more than bolster the notion that Canada remains a fledgling society, unable to control its own destiny, and in need of the oversight and discipline of our "betters." His actions stifle our freedom, not endorse or encourage it.
What's more, Mr. Harper's most recent actions should clearly demonstrate to all the old Reform Party supporters that, the new boss is the same as the old boss they worked so many years to get rid of!
Change does not come through the same old action. Change requires change, and Stephen Harper is changing nothing. The Emperor doesn't have new clothes. He's simply wrung them out and put them on again, and anyone who ever went out and bought a Reform Party membership, because they believed it was time for a new type of government, should now be seriously considering sending the Emperor to the cleaners!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home