Thursday, May 07, 2009

Conservatives now infecting the Senate member statements too

Senator Brazeau and his Conservative colleagues in the Senate have taken to infecting the civility of the Senate and in particular, the member statements there in the same partisan manner as their confreres in the House of Commons. In other words, they are now taking to mindlessly spewing the petty, pointless blather that appears to be coming from scripting central in Conservative HQ. Could be part of their strategy to tarnish the reputation of the Senate, to a greater extent than they have to date, or just par for the course for Conservative contempt for the traditional rules of the game in respect of the government institution at hand.

Here's some of Brazeau yesterday:
Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, last week in Vancouver, delegates from the Liberal Party of Canada met to confirm their third leader in almost six years. I am sure many in this chamber will agree that most Liberals did not have much of an opportunity to make this choice through elective means.
Honourable senators, simply saying anything, depending on where you are or who you are speaking to, is not effective governance. That is not leadership. Real leadership means dealing with difficult issues without hesitation.
The Liberal Party now has a new leader. We are all wondering how that leader and his party will be defined in terms of policy and actions, because currently they have no policies.
In a meeting with him in his office last year, the new Liberal leader told me to be careful with whom I was keeping company on Parliament Hill. Well, I did not listen.
The Liberal leader has a lot to explain to Canadians and to Quebecers. It seems abundantly evident that depending on where he is and to which audience he is speaking, he will say anything, anywhere to anyone to obtain a vote. On the issue of policy, perhaps Mr. Ignatieff's strategy is this: Do nothing, say anything and hope that poll numbers sustain.
I was pleased to read that Mr. Ignatieff praised even former Prime Minister Mulroney. This praise is laudable, or perhaps it is because he was out of the country for 36 years and does not realize that Mr. Mulroney was a Tory.
Honourable senators, real leadership is about being tested and challenged and being upfront about sharing with the public what one stands for. Mr. Ignatieff has been the de facto Liberal leader for four months. He has not been tested, he has not been challenged, and he has not shared with Canadians exactly what he stands for.
Honourable senators, that is a fact. Our Prime Minister and our government are not about lofty rhetoric, hidden agendas or false promises.
We continue to offer real help, real hope and real promise for Canadians of all ages, colours and creeds from coast to coast to coast.
This is all very rich coming from a Senator who is facing a CHRC complaint over sexual harassment allegations.

Here's the point of order which was raised, and will now form the subject of a coming Speaker's ruling, just as the Conservative statements in the House of Commons have been:
Point of Order
Speaker's Ruling Reserved
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I was surprised to hear such a partisan tone from one of our new colleagues today during Senators' Statements. His comments were about the Liberal Party of Canada's leadership convention held this past weekend.
I respect the fact that this parliamentary chamber includes senators from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, as well as independent senators. However, rule 22(4) states:

In particular, Senators' statements should relate to matters which are of public consequence . . .

That is the rule, as it is written.
I have been a member of the Senate since 1995, and as I recall, this institution has a tradition of using Senators' Statements to raise matters of public consequence.
For example, today, Senator Rompkey commemorated the Battle of the Atlantic. Yesterday, Senator Nancy Greene talked about how women will not be allowed to ski jump in the 2010 Olympic Games.
Would the honourable Speaker be so kind as to interpret both the letter and the spirit of rule 22(4) at his convenience?
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):...If I understand correctly, the purpose of Senators' Statements is to bring to the attention of the Senate matters of public importance that otherwise would not be considered. It has often been the practice in Senators' Statements to bring forth examples of distinguished citizens from across the country and to celebrate the work they have done.

In the past, statements have rarely been used to applaud the government or the opposition for their deeds. Motions, bills and inquiries on the Order Paper provide opportunities to do that.

It is inappropriate to use Senators' Statements to applaud a government action or government bill. The time provided for statements should be reserved for the purpose for which rule 22(4) was intended.
So there you have it. Not that this is a major public issue of the day, it's one more degradation of our institutions of government that the Conservative party is engaged in and that deserves some attention.

And one other thing...note to the Privy Council Office in respect of its concern over Senator Brazeau, I would refer you to the CP report from last night what with its talk of a potential lawsuit against Brazeau rather than today's all too brief Globe item.