Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Strange priorities

Here comes Senate reform, again. We just saw this movie and it wasn't any good the first time. But bring on the sequel:
The Harper government will introduce new Senate reform legislation that would force the new raft of Conservative-appointed senators to quit their jobs after an eight-year term.

The move means that such senators as Patrick Brazeau, 34, would have to leave the upper chamber after one, non-renewable eight-year period. Minister of State for Democratic Reform Steven Fletcher said in an interview that new legislation would put the limit on all senators appointed since the October, 2008, election and into the future.
Mr. Fletcher was quick to add that any changes would only be made after the government implements its budget. "Right now, we must get our stimulus package passed through Parliament and we need to do that quickly," he said. "It just has to be passed before we can deal with the Senate ... it's by far and away the No. 1 priority."
So glad, I'm sure Canadians are wondering when the budget will be passed so they can get on with Senate reform. That this is the next issue on the agenda demonstrates either how empty the tank is in Conservative brain trust land or how urgent the need is to placate that base. While we can understand the pressing need to get Senator Brazeau out of the Senate, there are still just too many questions here.

Where is the pressing demand from Canadians that this issue be dealt with? It's not there. Where is the broad support among provinces for these changes? Not there as of the end of November:
Opposition to the idea is also stiff in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. The provinces have argued the Senate election and term limit bills are unconstitutional.
There are clear constitutional problems with Fletcher's proposals on term limits and elections, the Constitution says no. And there's little appetite to open that can of worms.

Around here, we do not get this fixation one iota.