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This government was supposed to be big into democratic reform?

I think I should do a series of “This government was supposed to be..” posts. I’d be busy for quite awhile with listing all the broken promises.

Today, it’s the Senate. Harper appoints 2 more Senators to finally get his majority there. He has appointed nearly a 3rd of the Senate since his tenure – that would be 37 if you were wondering – and he also has apparently thrown his statement out the window from a few years ago that the Senate should bow to the will of the elected House… apparently all opposition-passed legislation is subject to defeat in the appointed Upper Chamber.

The principles of one Mr. Harper and his party have disappeared quite quickly in only four years of power.


19 comments to This government was supposed to be big into democratic reform?

  • Beerbob

    By the way, the personal icons are excellent. Kudos to the artist.

  • AlisonS

    Anon ABC Agreed, but of course Paul Martin is actually a decent human being, as opposed to the robotic dear leader.

  • Anon ABC

    It could be reasonably argued that in a majority situation, the PM could afford to be non partisan and appoint Senators who are not from his own party. Thus it is more appropriate to compare the number, and political leanings, of Senators appointed by Harper to that of another minority government rather than to that of other majority ones (e.g. Chretien, Mulroney).

    In this light, it is interesting that the Cons supporters don’t mention that Paul Martin, in a minority government situation, actually appointed 5 non Liberals out of the 17 senators he appointed:

  • ridenrain

    I find it delicious that the coalition keeps crying about the demise of democracy in Canada All the faults in our system are still in place but they never were a problem when Chretien or Martin had their majorities. Some of you should read Jeffrey Simpson’s book “The Friendly Dictatorship”, if you can get past that wonderful cover.

    • Redrum

      @ridenrain, That’s what makes bullying Harper apologists like you so detestable. The Reform/Alliance/CPC came to power by promising to Reform the over-concentration of power in the PMO, and as soon as they got in, they turned around and made it worse than ever, and have broken or abandoned most of its other core principles, all so it can cling to power. That’s self-serving hypocrisy of the worse sort, and you’re behaving like a Hitler Youth, running around spying on dissidents and running interference for the Dear Leader.

      • ridenrain

        True about Martin but that was only because Chretien stuffed it to the max capacity.
        I’m just waiting for the full flip flop when the Liberals who kept supporting the senate now start to demand it change because it’s no longer in their favor.

        • Redrum

          @ridenrain, not only is this reply in the wrong place, but it doesn’t make sense & misses the point, as usual.

          Whether or not Chretien kept replenishing the Senate to its full has no bearing on Martin’s choice to appoint some Senators with a different political affiliation than his own. And neither one of them ever pledged not to appoint unelected Senators. And Harper filled all 18 vacant Senate seats in a single fell swoop on Dec. 22, 2008, the most ever appointed in a single day — all of them partisans; and he’s just filled it again yesterday, no?

          And not everyone who’s calling him out on this is a Liberal, or a fan of the Senate: some are NDP or Green supporters; Hell, some are even old die-hard Reformers. Your attempt to deflect all criticisms back onto some imagined hypocritical Liberal foe misses the point: Harper continues to break his word and his principles and he misleads people at almost every turn, and voters have more than one option to deal with that — not just voting Liberal, or NDP, or Green, or Other, but also: just not voting.

          And as these continue to pile up, all your irritating attempts at diversions and denials and tu quoque ad hominems will amount to naught then, and he won’t even get a viable minority next time.

    • Beerbob


      My observation was that it very probably was a problem within previous governments. But, back then, on the occasions when someone whored themselves out for a cushy job, they did it in secret, and consequently must have thought there was something wrong with what they did. Now, it’s O.K. because it’s been advertised and all the new senators have to prostitute themselves the same way? Remember, not one of those people refused to do this. I hope there were some who were asked who did. Unfortunately, the ones who refused to sell out are the ones who belong in the Senate.

      The big problem is, when you have broken your personal honour, it gets easier the next time.

  • Beerbob

    From what I understand, there is a common thread running through all of these new appointments to the Senate, and that is that there exists a formal list of requirements about the nature of each new member’s tenure notwithstanding the legal structure of our government. Things like agreeing to limit their occupancy of the office, a specific requirement about how to vote particularly concerning senate reform, and in return, excellent remuneration and benefits, including a rich indexed pension after eight years. Please let me know if I’ve got this wrong in any way. I well might.

    So what’s different? Doesn’t every PM make their wishes known to their appointees? Probably. What occurred to me was to turn around the usual arguments about the Senate being just a talking shop full of cronies appointed by whoever happens to be in power at the time when one of them keels over or retires. Why is the Senate there? What was the logic of having such a thing in the first place? Their position exists at the will of no one once they have their seat. They can be removed, but only after a long term of gross incompetence. This, of course is another problem, but the nature of the Senate requires some serious protection from the vagaries of the government of the day, of whichever stripe.

    I like to think that there should be a neon sign over the main door of the Senate chamber: “You don’t have to dance with the one who brung ya”. As far as I can see, that’s the only reason why it exists. Any new Senator, as their first act just after they are appointed, can drop their pants or skirt, turn around, bend over, and face away from the prime minister, suggesting gluteal osculation.

    That is the bright line. Requiring a quid pro quo, for a cushy job and pension, goes against the core reason for the existence of the institution. Once it’s populated with people who have agreed to ignore that bright line, we might as well get rid of the chamber, which may be the nature of this strategy in the first place. Perhaps that line is invisible to Prime Minister Harper. Perhaps it is not. I don’t know which situation would be worse. This worries me.

    • Gayle

      @Beerbob, Do you really think Harper’s appointments are going to quit if there is a liberal government? I somehow think that whole term limit thing they agreed to will fly out the window, along with all of Harper;s other promises.

      • Beerbob


        Hi, Gayle.

        I guess what bugs me is not so much that the new senators trade a commitment to vote a certain way, according to the wishes of the PM, to receive their new position. It’s that under any government in the past, that is implied, sometimes I suspect that it might even be the subject of a private conversation on specifics between the candidate and someone from from the PMO. I think it was always done secretly, nod-nod-wink-wink because the parties thought that it would call into question the integrity of the new senator (and the PM, for that matter). I think it did. What they’re doing now is different. They’re not even trying to hide it. Do they think that it’s less corrupt if everybody knows? Do they use a different measure of corruption?

        The whole purpose of the Senate is that the members follow their principles and their conscience in passing new law. There’s a major difference between listening to the arguments of the PM, and considering them in forming a position, and simply obeying him.

        In a democracy, you follow the law. You don’t obey the Fearless Leader.

        I wouldn’t trade an agreement to wear blue underwear for a Senate position, let alone participate in a political ploy to undermine one of the core reasons for its very existence.

        Well, maybe the underwear. But that’s where it stops.

        Good day folks

  • ridenrain

    Poor Curtis.. Keep in mind that all those others were majorities. The Harper government is a minority and could be brought down at any time if the opposition had the guts.
    Suck it up and pull the plug or just shut up.

    • Gayle

      @ridenrain, None of which has anything to do with the fact that Harper says one thing, and does another.

      It is cute the way you conservative types pretend everything is about accountability – until Harper is the one who is being held to account.

    • Redrum

      @Billy Goat, uggh. Your ignorance of our Parliamentary system is surpassed only by your fascist (ok, oppressive) tendencies. The gov’t can only be defeated in a confidence vote when Parliament in session. And it’s the Opposition’s job to: Oppose, not just to STFU in-between confidence votes. And none of us kibbitzers here are in either role, we’re just citizens, and for you to tell US to STFU is pretty damn offensive. Go away: crawl back under your rock.

  • Curtis in Calgary

    Oh, and Harper has done it in record speed.

  • Curtis in Calgary

    To ridenrain: Even without dissecting your numbers, that’s still 100% partisan AND Harper’s appointments are rather hyper-partisan. He would embarrass even Brian Mulroney.

  • ridenrain

    Those facts just keep getting more and more slippery as time goes on..

    Trudeau: 81 appointments, 70 Liberal
    Mulroney: 57 appointments, 55 PC
    Chretien: 75 appointments, 72 Liberal.
    Harper: 37 appointments, 37 Conservative.

    Not bad for a minority government who’s time is up..or was up, if Iffy was to be believed.

  • Curtis in Calgary

    I think it’s a great time to do a “This government was supposed to be …” series. Plenty of fodder exists for three or four months of daily posts.

  • Beijing York

    Harper is a disgrace. Has any previous PM made more appointments? And his hand-picked appointments are 100% partisan unlike prior appointments made across party lines.

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