Tory senator: ‘If they want a war of chambers, we’ll give them one’

OTTAWA – Some Conservative senators are fighting back, defending themselves and the reputation of their maligned institution after taking a year-long drubbing over the Senate expenses scandal.

Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais on Friday became the second senator this week to join the fray, directly challenging a New Democrat MP for advocating abolition of the upper house in a flyer sent to her constituents.

In a letter sent to all parliamentarians, Dagenais referred to Charmaine Borg’s flyer as “a rag” and suggested she’s a whiny, ignorant, powerless Quebec MP who was elected by fluke and stands little chance of being re-elected.

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said sending such a “offensive” missive to a 23-year-old female rookie MP is “paternalistic, childish, condescending and frankly misogynistic.” He served notice that he will ask the Speaker of the House of Commons next week to condemn Dagenais.

“The letter in question attacks the very legitimacy of a sitting member of Parliament,” Cullen told the Commons.

But Dagenais was unapologetic and warned New Democrats to expect more of the same if they continue attacking the Senate.

He said he’s following the lead of Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella, who issued an unprecedented statement earlier this week blasting NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for accusing him of making fraudulent housing expense claims.

Kinsella also held an extraordinary news conference Monday in the Senate chamber, which he used in part to offer a history lesson on the merits of having a second parliamentary chamber.

“When they will attack the Senate, from now on they will have to expect a reaction from senators,” Dagenais said in an interview.

“And I will be one of those … If they want a war of chambers, we’ll give them one.”

Earlier in the week, Dagenais said he spoke to Kinsella and the Conservative Speaker told him: “‘You know, Mr. Dagenais, we will have to take our destiny in our own hands, to defend the Senate.’ And I said, ‘Mr. Speaker, if you need me, let me know, I will do what I have to do.’”

Cullen scoffed at the threat and said the NDP has no intention of backing off its criticism of the Senate.

“If they want to have a fight about legitimacy between us and the unelected and under investigation Senate, we welcome it,” he said in an interview.

Dagenais, who lives in Borg’s suburban Montreal riding, was infuriated by her flyer, which calls for abolition of the “costly and anti-democratic” Senate, where friends of the government get a “salary for life.”

“What a rag!” he wrote in his letter to Borg, copied to all MPs and senators.

Dagenais goes on to say Borg “would likely never have been elected” but for Quebecers’ “spontaneous sympathy” for late NDP Leader Jack Layton. He refers to her as one of “a bunch of puppets” designated to “fill the holes” in the NDP’s slate of Quebec candidates in the 2011 election.

He accuses her of “blindly parroting” Mulcair to denigrate the Senate and suggests she should use the parliamentary library to inform herself about the institution before criticizing it.

Dagenais, who was appointed to the Senate after failing to win election in another Quebec riding in 2011, writes that citizens and organizations in Borg’s riding frequently come to him for help with federal government matters. When he’s suggested they should talk to their MP first, he says, “they all responded that you were useless and powerless to do anything.”

“Parliamentary life, Ms. Borg, is not just about whining, although you’ve become very good at it and the media certainly takes delight in it,” he concludes.

Earlier this week, Kinsella shed his usual role of neutral referee in the Senate to accuse Mulcair of making an “unfounded personal attack” against him and Liberal Sen. Pierrette Ringuette.

Mulcair had accused the duo of pulling “the exact same trick as Mike Duffy” — one of four disgraced senators under RCMP investigation for allegedly defrauding the Senate.

Kinsella scolded the NDP leader, who “lives for free in a lovely (official residence) house in upscale Rockcliffe Park,” for criticizing parliamentarians who claim reimbursement for keeping a secondary residence in the national capital.

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Tory senator: ‘If they want a war of chambers, we’ll give them one’

  1. I will no longer vote NDP if they push to abolish the Senate. It needs to be reformed but not abolished! People who deserve to be there, should be there.. whether it is elected or whatever..

    • Good for you. Too bad the rest of Canada wants it gone.

      • Best just to always speak for yourself – a tad arrogant (as well as ignorant) to speak for all the rest of Canada.

        • I am speaking for myself.. so where do you stand self-righteous aZZ

      • You are entitled to your opinion – assuming you speak for the rest of Canada?? I speak pour moi!

    • Your talking points are about two years out of date, crazypants. Please contact HQ for updated version.

      • He seems unaware the NDP has always been anti-Senate.

  2. As a minimum it should be downsized and elected and representative of relative provincial populations. If we need sober second thought three dozen should be able to do this.

  3. For $135,000 a year, I would love to be some PM’s Yesman. Heck, I wouldn’t even make housing expense claims. I’ll pay out of pocket for everything my family and I need. I’ll even make regular donations to charities. No headlines of me being some shister, I promise. APPOINT ME!

    • LOL

  4. A unicameral government without proportional representation or any non-suicidal way for elected members to criticize the all-powerful of the leadership would be de facto dictatorship. The Senate is a poor excuse for either a check or a balance on domination, for sure, but it might be a good one if we made it right. We need something to balance a first-past-the-post system that produces majority governments that claim popular mandates from a minority of electors.

    Think about this. Would you have wanted the Chretien government to have had absolute authority over every decision with no ability to criticize them? I wouldn’t.

    Look at the mess we have in Ontario now, with no way to stop a known corrupt government.

    • Look at the partisan loons we have posting here. [Rolls eyes]

      • So, where do you stand, Ms Loonie? Sitting on the fence I see?

        • You’re new here arncha…

      • Coming from you….. did you miss your meds today?

        • I’m not in a political party….that would be you.

          • Emily &#174, I thought you were in the Feministi Party.

  5. I would urge everyone who has an interest in how Canada might progress, that includes all Canadians, to inform your MP of your thoughts. I don’t know how much they listen, but that’s all we can hope for in between elections. We have to keep the buggers in check and not just let them run free with our country. Not previous governments, not this one, and not future ones. It’s our country, not theirs.

    • Who elected the ones in there now?

      • The majority who bothered to get off their asses and vote.. did you?

        • Then they aren’t aliens are they….voters chose them

      • A cipher is a cipher, no matter what party it belongs to. At election time we’re given a choice of which party leader we want as a dictator; that is the full extent of democracy in Canada.

        Ian, your MP doesn’t care about your thoughts. He or she cares only about being a good follower and reaping the rewards. Save your breath to cool your porridge.

        • Yeah, that’s what you’re choosing…a party leader. Most people don’t even know their MPs name, nor do they care.

          That is democracy everywhere.

  6. “Parliamentary life, Ms. Borg, is not just about whining” Don’t worry eventually we will stop whining and take action.

  7. Common theme with the cons ATTACK.

  8. In spite of the people voting to say “no” to Dagenais in an election, Stevie Harper gives him a job for life. Now he takes shots at an elected politician. The NDP MP is elected….Dagenais is an unelected right wing leech. Just when you think these senators cannot embarrass themselves anymore……along come Dagenais.

  9. Ooooooooh, sounds like someone still has an axe to grind after being rejected by the very people that he says he “helps”. Our former QPP officer is chafing under the constraints of the democratic system, much better they should trump up some charge and throw her femiNazi keester in the slammer, eh Jean-Guy?
    The last thing we need is to hear criticism from self-important failed political hack.

  10. The NDP have no skin in the game. They have no Senators. They can pick and scratch and inflame the whole situation with no effect on themselves.

  11. I think Dagenais’ attack is wrong headed – though I don’t personally support abolishing the Senate.
    I’m not sure the MPs gender or experience should have anything to do with it – unless the ‘misogyny’ Cullen is complaining of is lost to me in the translation.

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