Saturday, August 29, 2009

Egads, the Senate is at risk

Well that's one I've never heard...

And probably for good reason. The underlying presumption in that post is that it would be legitimate for the Senate to act as if it is the equal of the House of Commons. It isn't. Imagine an unelected Conservative Senate blocking the legislative agenda of a newly elected Liberal government. There would be no appetite for that publicly and any future Prime Minister would happily rail against it and win. The House of Commons passes legislation, the Senate studies, yes, and in a functioning cooperative system, may even suggest amendments. Because we have been known to have mature governments in the past who actually valued the input of Senators. But ultimately the Senate signs off. That's the presumptive state of affairs. It is a question of legitimacy, which they do not have due to their unelected status.

The post also seems to imply a continued loyalty to Harper once he's politically dead and gone, that would have Harper pulling the strings to stop Liberal legislation? That would be a neat trick. He's just not that awesome though.

Contrary to the talking points that are all the rage these days, Liberals have not frustrated the Conservative agenda in the Senate (from link at that site). Any Harper "crime bills" or other assorted subjects of complaint that have failed to pass have been due to the end of the parliamentary session arriving, or Harper introducing the bills too late to make it through. Or prorogation. Etc. It's manufactured talking point hoohah designed to discredit the system. That's what Harper Conservatives do. So there is no justification down the road for Conservatives to do something that Liberal Senators supposedly did. In any event, see above legitimacy point.

One can agree with the premise in that post though that it would of course be better to not have Stephen Harper as Prime Minister. His goal in ratcheting up his patronage orgy may in fact be to discredit the entire institution of the Senate. Irresponsible enough. But he's probably taking people down a road of abolition with his behaviour, not elected-equal-effective dogma that he and his old Reformers (ah, memories) have had in mind. Is that what his western base wants? Who knows, maybe they'll take it. But that takes a constitutional amendment too! Whoopsie. And the nation seems to have more pressing bidness.

Update: A Harper minister is again peddling the Senate obstruction myth today in the Globe. They're shameless.