A portrait of Canada’s political culture (Part 1)

Andrew Coyne on the PM’s Senate appointments

090828_harper2As ever with Stephen Harper, there is an in-your-face element to the latest batch of Senate appointments. It’s almost as if he said to himself, okay, if I’m going to get slammed for these appointments anyway, what are the most obnoxiously partisan, disgustingly sycophantic choices I can make? I know — I’ll name my former press flack! No, wait — I’ll name the president of the party! Or maybe — yes! — the most hyper-partisan, Grit-hating thug I know, my former campaign manager!

I’ve got it! I’ll appoint all of them!

Yes, I know, the Liberals did just the same for years — the same Grits who are now assailing the appointments, just as the Tories used to attack theirs. This is the cycle we have become caught in, each party justifying its own excesses by the other’s, each hypocritically accusing the other of hypocrisy. And the public, educated by long useage to expect no better, cannot even be roused to outrage any more. Time was when this sort of flagrant cronyism would have caused a scandal. Certainly in any other country it would. But not here, not any more.

We have a deeply, deeply cynical political culture, and the Senate is a big part of it. A country that teaches itself to accept that one of its two legislative bodies should be composed almost entirely of appointed party hacks and bagmen (the other being made up of obedient ciphers) can accommodate itself to a great many things.

Our tolerance for separatism acted in much the same way. We knew it was wrong, but we told ourselves it was right: that the reason we tolerated the intolerable — a perpetual threat to destroy the country unless ransom was paid, in larger and larger installments — was not because we were weak and fearful, but because we were decent and wise. Thus fear begat shame, and shame begat rationalization, and rationalization begat our current state of affairs: total amorality.

I suppose you can mount some sort of chess-playing rationale for Harper’s latest descent: he had to appoint somebody — might as well be people whose loyalty he can depend upon; with a majority in the Senate as early as next year, he’ll be in a better position to pass Senate reform; if he’d appointed respectable, upstanding pillars-of-the-community types, the kind with cross-party support, he’d simply be rehabilitating the status quo. So you see, by appointing egregious partisan hacks, he’s actually still a reformer.

But if that’s his strategy, why be so timid about it? Why not appoint his horse? Or convicted criminals? Colin Thatcher to the Senate!




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A portrait of Canada’s political culture (Part 1)

  1. Colin Thatcher to the Senate!

    I could conceivably be convinced of this, after last week's cover story.

  2. He'd have to appoint Thatcher AND the horse. Having previously railed publicly about the inmate's access to equestrian privileges in prison, it would be wrong to deny him such perks in the Senate.

  3. Ah, but Andrew, he was FORCED into doing these Senate appointments, if you believe Stephen Taylor's argument (which I don't, and neither does the site I linked to).

    By the way, Liberals (and the other parties too, for that matter) are attacking Harper's appointments not because he's made them, but because for 13 years Harper's had statements on the record saying he'd NEVER engage in this. I can pick out any number of Harper quotations that delightfully illustrate how far off the rails he's gone on the Senate. A slight difference… and more then fair of his opponents to point out the Harpocrisy.

  4. Ah, but Andrew, he was FORCED into doing these Senate appointments, if you believe Stephen Taylor's argument (which I don't, and neither does the site I linked to).

    By the way, Liberals (and the other parties too, for that matter) are attacking Harper's appointments not because he's made them, but because for 13 years Harper's had statements on the record saying he'd NEVER engage in this. I can pick out any number of Harper quotations that delightfully illustrate how far off the rails he's gone on the Senate. A slight difference then merely attacking him that he made them at all – and more then fair ball for his opponents of all political stripes to point out the Harpocrisy.

    • There are numerous quotes Harper has made regarding the Senate. When the provinces won't cooperate and hold Senate elections to provide candidates from which to appoint and when the liberal senate won't cooperate with any changes in its structure, and when the seats are steadily becoming vacant with retirees, what is Harper to do. He is taking another approach to change the Senate from within with willing appointed participants. The Senate needs to be more balanced between Liberals and Conservatives and he is trying to do that too. I don't knock him for his efforts. He is wise to take a different approach.

      • Again, Kathy.. as to your Conservative-supporting colleagues..stop obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate reform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree. As it is.. what he's doing now is piecemeal, non-binding, possibly temporary, and also possibly unconstitutional.

        Let him have the guts to re-open the Constitution and talk to the provinces to do it the correct legal way of changing the Senate, rather then the sneaky underhanded partisan way he's trying to go about it now.

      • Again, Kathy.. as to your Conservative-supporting colleagues..stop obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate reform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree. As it is.. what he's doing now is piecemeal, non-binding, possibly temporary, and also possibly unconstitutional.

        Let him have the guys to re-open the Constitution and talk to the provinces to do it the correct legal way of changing the Senate, rather then the sneaky underhanded partisan way he's trying to go about it now.

      • Again, Kathy.. as to your Conservative-supporting colleagues..stop obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate, nor the provinces for that matter. Nothing requires them to bow to King Harper's demands and hold elections. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate reform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree. As it is.. what he's doing now is piecemeal, non-binding, possibly temporary, and also possibly unconstitutional.

        Let him have the guts to re-open the Constitution and talk to the provinces to do it the correct legal way of changing the Senate, rather then the sneaky underhanded partisan way he's trying to go about it now.

        • Liberal lickspittle obstructionist, obfuscationist rhetoric.
          The problem IS the old Canadian fetid rosebush that masquerades as democracy, that is in dire need of pruning, that IS the problem.
          Good on Prime Minster Harper and the hope for REAL democracy in Canada…it's a start

    • And Jean Chretien said he would axe the GST. So what! Politicians say a lot of things but circumstances change and you need to adapt to those changed circumstances. Only in the perfect world of punditry can one afford to stay high and mighty.

      • Suck it up you Libs..Now you know how it feels to be Liberals..This is typical liberal behaviour and now you don,t like it EH! Way to shove it down these Liberal ass-holes throats.Keep it up PM Harper,you have the cowards out blathering about these beauiful appointments.Best one is Demers about twice as intelligent as Chretien and no one complained when he was elected.Go figure.

  5. But if that's his strategy, why be so timid about it? Why not appoint his horse?

    LOL. Harper as Caligula.

    • Ok so he didnt appoint a horse…but did he appoint part of a horse? Only time will tell.

      Being less cycnical for a moment. It is all in a Nash equillibrium….they are making the best choice possible within the circumstances. Nobody says there can't be better payoffs for all, including the Canadian people….but the Canadian people need to reward the new behaviour of "someone". Or there has to be an agreement amongst the players that they will cooperate to get to the new level….this was Meech, but low and behold others including the Canadian people intervened.

      I am not excusing, just saying it is not that simple…even electing a majority government committed to Senate reform doesnt get you anywhere, as you need the other players..provinces….to go along. Hmmm maybe appointing the horse is the right strategy after all. for how else do you change the stakes?

      Andrew, I appreciate the sentiment (hell i agree with it) but what is the practical roadmap?

      • A horse would have refused the appointment. That includes any of the parts.
        At least we are giving the *pig* with lipstick a rest.

        • You mean the horse would have said "nay" to the appointment?

          • The horse would indeed have said "nay" but on second thought some of the parts could be persuaded.
            Oh, they already have.

  6. Congrats Coyne, Perhaps the best Canadian rant since the original beer commercial. Hope you saved something for your date with Wells.

  7. He appointed those people to strengthen his Party. Which decreases the odds of Canada sliding into the status of a one-party state, the direction in which we were heading in the 1990s. Appointing a horse, or Thatcher might have gotten us back onto that track, so I, for one, am pleased that he didn't take that course of action..

  8. Andrew – bravo for being the first journalist to use appropriate adjectives in describing these appointments.

    But simply describing Harper's appointments, and Opposition criticism thereof, as a neverending cycle of a cynical political culture overlooks the fact that Harper's predecessor (full disclosure – my former employer) made a more balanced set of Senate appointments than the country had ever seen. If the current Prime Minister learned any lesson from the last one, it's that the media would never give him an ounce of credit for making decent appointments, so why bother?

    None of Harper's lines on this make any sense whatsoever. Aside from the hypocrisy which Scott alludes to above, the notion that the Senate must follow the will of the elected House of Commons is a perversion of the highest order. Any future Senate – elected or appointed – has as its primary role to be a check on the power of the Commons, not to act as its servant. Democratic reformers should take note of this new twist in Harper's view of how an upper chamber should function.

    Secondly, it's hard to swallow Harper's notion that the Senate should reflect the elected will of the people when he appoints people like Fabian Manning mere weeks after the voters have weighed in (rather decisively) on his inability to represent them.

    Finally, the notion that the kind of Senate reform Harper desires will come 'from within' is nonsense, as such changes require constitutional change and provincial agreement.

    Harper's end game here is to discredit the institution as much as possible, having realized that his desired changes will never come to fruition. Yesterday's appointments represent a very successful step in that direction.

    • That line, that the Senate must follow the will of the elected government, needs some explanation. I didn't see the press conference yesterday, so forgive me if this was already asked of him, but does Harper intend his dream senate to reflect the proportions in the lower house? Would his senators resign to make room for the new government to appoint their own senators such that the upper house mirrors the lower?
      What, exactly, are his hopes for a reformed senate? I get the impression that Harper's making us muddle towards something without completely understanding how it's supposed to work. Is not the onus on proponents of reform to explain all this? Why aren't they asked?

      • In order to reform the current system, first you break the system.

        Isn't this in some manual somewhere? It is used in the health care arena, and it seems to be having some success so I'm sure Harper thought it would be good for the Senate as well. Yes, it is a long-term strategy, but the beauty of these appointments is that even if Harper is no longer in charge, his efforts will continue.

    • This is a remarkably well though out comment and thank you for posting it.

  9. I don't know about most other another countries, but in the US these kind of flacks end up in the justice department – where they get fired for not going after their partisan opponets. Not a peep from the media either.

  10. Am I the only one who sees these appointments as, while distasteful, entirely appropriate?

    For me, I see the House of Commons as a representation of the will and desires of Canadians across the nation at the present (or near present)

    I see the Senate as a represenation of the general will of Canadians over the course of our history. It's part of what keeps Canada stable, it slows down how much change Canada will see over a short period, limiting the whipsaws in public opinion that we see happening in our Parliament and in many other countries. So having some hyper-partisans appointed seems unfortunately appropriate, as that does seem to be becoming the desire of Canadians in general when looking at those we are electing.

    • "Am I the only one who sees these appointments as, while distasteful, entirely appropriate?"

      Um, yes.

  11. Two wrongs don't make a right. But three rights do make a left.

    I might be too cynical, but something tells me another elected legislative body would just increase the cynicism and bitter partisanship present in our system.

    Since we are talking about senate reform openly again (isn't it just so therapeutic), we should really address reforming the House of Commons first. If our direct representatives can't act like adults, what exactly is a reformed senate going to accomplish? A sense of democracy in a reformed second ring of the circus?

    If senate reform involved a form of proportional representation, I would be more interested. If it is first past the post, it really would be an exercise in futility.

  12. Harper and his gang of thugs can act awfully dumb, but most of them are pretty canny.

    They knew/know full well that reforming the Senate would require the support of 7 provinces including Ontario and Quebec. It was/is just not possibly for the foreseeable future, given the demographic reality of Quebec's declining share of the federation's population and its perceived need to retain whatever grip it can on the levers of power in Canada.

    The Senate was/is the perfect never-ending issue for these thugs to foster discontent in their core supporters.
    Given the gratuitous defense of these appointments by that same core, Harper now has his cake and can eat it too!

    • Thugs ? Which political party would be less thuggish.

  13. Does anyone remember the Liberals and their Coalition Junta would have installed the likes of Layton and Gilles to the Senate if had they been successful in hijacking the government of Canada!!!

    PM Harper is doing what he as been forced to do. The Liberals have shown zero interest in Senate Reform. We know that the Liberals would do anything to continue appointing hacks to the senate.

    Andrew forgets that the only crusader out there for Senate Reform is Mr. Harper. Shame on Coyne for piling on the only Party and only Leader willing to reform the Senate. PM Harper needs a majority of Senators to begin the process of change, because the Liberals do not want change.

    RM99

    • First off, the idea that a Coalition would have appointed Duceppe to the Senate misses two points. 1) That's an inane and insane misdirection for you to totally pull out of your posterior, and 2) Duceppe wouldn't accept an appointment to the Senate even in a fantasy world in which someone offered it.

      I also have no doubt that Harper is following a longstanding tradition of appointing hacks and bagmen, but I also feel confident in saying that his immediate predecessor had bucked that trend, or begun to, and Harper has now reversed course and elevated it to an art form. Taking the long view, Harper's appointment's are nothing more heinous than more of the same (from a politician who's entire raison d'etre used to be "we're different!!!" but, whatever). I challenge anyone though to look at Martin's appointments to the Senate in comparison to Harper's and conclude that Harper isn't reversing what was a rather encouraging trend. Martin may have put some partisans in the Senate, but Harper's just rubbing our faces in it!

      • “Taking the long view, Harper's appointment's are nothing more heinous than more of the same (from a politician who's entire raison d'etre used to be "we're different!!!" but, whatever)

        Well said. I guess Harper is trying his best to prove that even marginal power can corrupt absolutely.

        • No, corruption… THAT is the sole, heinous legacy of the Liberal Party of Canada…HAND DOWN! which the Gomery Commission deliciously articulated in detail for Canadians!

          • Hmm, I seem to recall a much more recent commission that dealt with some pretty odious levels of corruption emanating from the highest elected office in the land.

            (perhaps it would behoove Conservatives *not* to mention commissions for the time being? Just a friendly suggestion :)

          • I think the Gomery Commission's revelations of the odious massive corruption of the Liberal Party of Canada, articulated in detail, lives on in INFAMY as the gold standard of corruption in Canada.
            P.S.
            We still are waiting to find out where, after all was said and done from the Gomery Commission, the last remaining $40 million ended up…
            Maybe a Harper majority will shed some light finally….

    • Just to correct things, the solid rumour was that Elizabeth May would have been appointed to the Senate and then into Cabinet. You can make up your mind as to whether that was a good or a bad thing.

    • I'm a fan of the senate and think it works great provided taht good, responsible get appinted to it. But for kicks, let's ignore reality and pretend for a moment that there is a way to reform the senate in such a way that it makes government more accountable and transparent and democratic and work better. Let's imagine that there is plausible way to make that happen.
      Is there ANYONE that beleives that Stephen Harper is willing to steer it in that direction? I remember Stephen Harper's Cromwellian platitudes about the role of parliament, and how the will of its members' views need to be respected, and power cannot be concentrated in the hands of few, and voting for him was a vote to make that happen.
      What's happened since he has been the given power? ITS WORSE!! He's thumbed his nose at the views of parliament AND cabinet at least as much as anyone previous. So how can anyone now beleive that he really truly believes in the principles of a democratic senate? His history demonstrates that he'll say whatever it takes for more power to be given to him. That's all he believes in: power for himself.

      • Because the Liberals have obstructed and opposed EVERY step in the right direction as far as reform of the Senate goes.
        Blammo you are misrepresentationalist and not fair…snort!

        • Please Doug… stop obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate rform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree.

        • Please Doug… stop obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate reform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree or demand other constitutional changes.

          If he had any guts, that's what he'd be doing; at least if he failed, he'd be shown to have some principles. But this is a piecemeal, temporary, and possibly unconstitutional way of going about trying to reform the Senate.. not to mention hyper-partisan.

    • Exactly…….even the modest change which does not require anything to do with opening the constitution is changing to term limits of 8 years is beyond the scope of the Liberals.

  14. Senate Reform is to The Reform Party of Canada as Overturning Roe v. Wade is to Republicans.

    A perceived injustice that is always perceived as tantalizingly close to being corrected.

    Neither the Reform Party nor the Republicans have any intention of ever actually correcting these "injustices"…their continued existence is too great of a vote getter amongst their key demographics – Evangelical Christians in the States, and perpetually alienated Westerners in Canada.

  15. Forget reforming the senate, just take it out back and put a bullet between its eyes (the institution, figuratively, I mean, not the actual senators, they can go back to living in Mexico or whatever it is they do when not in the Red Chamber). All the provinces work just fine with unicameral legislatures.

    • All the provinces work just fine with unicameral legislatures.

      Oh, you had me until that sentence! (LOL).

  16. One point nobody seems to mention is that had the provinces that these Senators been appointed from bothered to elect their Senate choices there wouldn't be an issue with who is appointed. Sadly, Alberta is the only province to have an elected Senator representing them.

    • Harper could have taken a step in that direction by making his Senate choices on the recommendation of provincial premiers. That would have been a good first step in restoring the original purpose of the Senate as a way to ensure regional balance in our federal system of government. Instead he goes and appoints hacks like Doug Finley. Pathetic.

    • The last thing this country needs is to have the Senate in its current form (with its gross regional imbalances) be given the democratic legitimacy that doing what you propose would provide. Incrementalism isn't going to work this time.

  17. you lost me the minute you said thug.

  18. Of course Andrew is right – and the alternative is what? Be the last boy scout and get nothing through the Senate? Then we would be complaining about that. Sometimes we all have to live in the real world and accept limitations. Where provinces have elected senators, Harper has appointed them (OK only Alberta has gone that route, but he is following through) – he has committed these and the previous group appointed to 8 year terms – there really is nothing binding in that other than each senator's individual promise, but it is a start. The only time change will happen is when Canadians wake up and say that it is absurd in the 21th century to have any unelected body deciding anything to do with legislation!!! Maybe the whole senate needs to be abolished, maybe Harper's plan is the best, maybe the Liberals have another option – but until Canadians engage in the issue (leading maybe a referendum) all these appointments result in is columnists getting paid to write a bunch of stuff.

  19. Andrew

    On the timid part. I have defend Harper, look at what his newest Senator said:

    "I'm going to have to start following [federal politics],"

    Not a horse, but that comment sure makes Harper look like an ass.

  20. One man's Elizabeth May is another man's Doug Finley.

  21. That in itself would be reason enough to abolish the Senate. It should be replaced with a deliberative body of 100 ordinary citizens picked at random like a jury who serve for a period of 6 months once a lifetime only. A bit like the Florentine model. Anybody who has ever run for office would be excluded.

  22. The Liberal Party of Canada, who you secretly support from behind the camoflage of so-called "objective journalism", holds the 'Guiness Book of Records' title for ALL TIME lows in terms of sheer numbers with these Senate appointments over DECADES AND DECADES of corrupt Liberal patronage and it STILL holds an overwhelming majority of members in the Senate. Further it is the Conservative Party of Canada that has tried repeatedly with much Liberal opposition, to reform the Senate with an elected Senate or to at the least limit the terms to 8 years, to no avail. So maybe by playing by "liberal' rules in appointing a few more Conservative Senators, the pieces are slowly being put into place to truly make the Senate democratic by electiions or barring that the abolition of this 19th century vestige of privilege and authoritarianism. Your hypocrisy seems to know no bounds…

    • OK, 1 – overwhelming majority? Its 50 to 45 in favour of the Liberals. They have more senators because they GET ELECTED more often.
      But here is what I want to hear. Just once, from a proponent of senate reform. How would it work? Who is the prome minister? Who is he accountable to? What exactly will happen when a legitimate senate opposes the lower house? Does the governmetn have to maintain the confidence of the senate, as well of the House? Instead of the house?
      That's just a start – how to justify a ten senators for NS and only six for Alberta is another whole avenue.
      Had Harper been a more democratic and open and transparent prime minsiter, I could probably take him at his word with respect to a moredemocratic senate. But let him implement those democratic ideals in his own house first. Don't let Harper fool you. He only beleives in power for himself. His senate thing is only agambit for him to get it and his supporters should stop pretending it's anything else.

      • Blammo, when you put it in those specific terms, you make an excellent case for the straight-up ABOLITION of the Senate!
        It IS completely dysfunctional in 2009 Canada…aren't we supposed to be a democracy? …snort!
        Further, given the systemic dysfunctionality of the fetid corpse that is the19th century British Parliamentary system model in Canada, Prime Minister Harper is doing what he honestly can within the moth-eaten, straight jacket strictures of the vestiges of the Family Compact, to at least put some players in place to attempt to begin the process of some kind of updating so as to hopefully reflect the interests of ALL CANADIANS… it is a start

    • OK, now I've heard it all. Andrew Coyne is part of the "damn Liberal media bias." I'd laugh if it wasn't so outrageously patheric.

      • I read that his sister Deborah Coyne had a child with Pierre Trudeau…underneath, deep, deep down

        • Deborah Coyne is Andrew's cousin, not his sister. The whole Coyne family seems very talented and impressive. I would pay money to listen to their dinner-table debates at family reunions.

          • Unless they were discussing the Winnipeg Jets

  23. Horses aren't persons. Read the Persons Case.

  24. The only shame I feel in Canadians is that we continue to give Andrew Coyne the impression that what he cares about matters. He and his co-scion of Canada's mediocre elite, David Frum should disappear from the scene for a while and rethink just why their grand plans hatched in the Reagan years have not born fruit, here in Canuckistan.

    • While I disagree with almost all of Coyne's conclusions almost all of the time, he is one of the very few conservative commentators that maintains an element of intellectual integrity and coherence in their analysis. My distinct impression is that most of Canada agrees… but a test!
      [polldaddy 1929003 http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1929003/ polldaddy]

      • So far so good. I care about what he says, even if I don't agree. Dude must be soooome kinda pundit.

  25. Canada is a shamocracy with a House of Commons that poorly represents the people and a Senate that doesn't at all. I won't be voting in the next federal election and I urge all Canadians to boycott the election.

    The Iranian electoral system is starting to look good.

    • I echo Skinny Dipper's call for all Canadians, especially those who dislike the senatorial system, to not vote in the next election..

      ..after all, it means my vote means all the more.

  26. Did these senators agree to be appointed under the same conditions as the last batch (the duffy wallin batch)

    You know, agree to leave after a certain time etc. Just curious

  27. Again, Kathy.. as to your Conservative-supporting colleagues..top obfuscating. The Liberals have nothing to do with "obstructing" the reform of the Senate. It's Harper's own refusal to reopen the Constitution and get 7 provinces with 75% of the population to agree to the Senate reform proposals he wants.. or his fear that they won't agree.

  28. The Senate is one of the LPC's many tarbabies. The more Coyne and others in the media discuss it, the better. So thanks, Andrew.

    Perhaps some columns on other things that spook Ignatieff– the Coalition, the GST, crime & justice, s'il vous plait ?

  29. Here's the deal tho… The Liberals have held power for 97% of Canada's lifespan. You have had essentially 1-party dic tatorships… notwithstanding you get to go elect a new batch every so often. Liberals are statist dictatorships and the Natural Governing Party moniker is apt.
    This is why the decent people of this land, the non-transgendered hard working shopkeepers, salespeople, call centre operatives.. why we wish the esoteric daffy duck Liberals would go yank themselves in Newfoundland or something. Understand we HATE constitutional Marxist Liberal Trudeaophile Social Democrats and believe they must be stopped before their York university degrees do us real harm..Oh. Wait. Too late.
    There's not a crowd I hang with doesn't know crime is worse, immigration is a boondoggle, and Liberals are destroying all moral and ethical fibre the country ever enjoyed. We will never be a united country again. We can't even make war, except for the 2500 in the flea pit of Afghanistan. They, finally are our best our brightest and most rare! Contrast that with your Bacchanal in Toronto … I only wish we could have you shipped to Iran and see how you do. It would solve one of our problems for sure, especially if you took your NGO apologists along for the ..err… ride.

  30. Once the Tories have attained a majority make the Senate hereditary and be done with it.

  31. He could have at least set his wife up with a senate seat.

  32. Tell us how you really feel Coyne…Colin Thatcher?…just a touch over the top. I agreed with most of what you said until I got to that point. All of these people have agreed to run for election when Harper passes his modest reforms to the Senate. So take a breath, sit down with a beer and all will be well in the morning.

  33. So tell me, Andrew. What role have YOU and the rest of the MSM played in creating this "deeply, deeply cynical political culture"?

    Hmm?

  34. If Harper had appointed 28 senators all of whom were non-partisan holders of Ph.Ds., we'd say that the Senate is a great place for qualified Canadians to serve our country and that our prime is an honourable dedicated to the betterment of Canadian society. The problem is in the house of commons. We should reform it.

    • The problem is, he didn't.

  35. And move to Iran. You forgot that part.

  36. Coyne…you have deteriorated into a bitch.
    Even lib senators were moaning about the vacancies. Have you become so daft as to think Harper would appoint any but conservatives? He is proving his point entirely! Elect or abolish the senate.
    Bet a cookie you'd be singing a different tune if he'd picked you.

  37. The opposition parties have, as well as most of our media, declined to buy into the idea of Senate reform. This does not make it OK to do what Harper is doing, but really, what do you expect him to do? Appoint Rick Mercer?

  38. TangoJuliette sez:
    "Steve" should not have tinkered with the natural balance of the Senate. I mean, one year ago the seat distribution was perfect. Independents – 6; LPC – 55; Conservatives 18. Not hard to understand how fair, democratic and efficient this all proved to be.

    Block "Steve's" attempt to launch an elected Senate and there you have it — perfect indeed. But he just won't roll over and die, damn him. And now, the quality of the cordwood he's chosen to "stack the Senate?" Well how dare he stoop to such low and vile depths of partisanship. [ sarcasm --OFF ]

    As for the sobriquet of "King of Patronage?" I see it as a little too lofty.

    "Prince of. . . " perhaps. Old Billy King who ruled through a triumvirate of hisself, his dead Mom and his widdle doggie – plus some unofficial "input" from a few hookers from Ottawa's Banks Street, and Chicago's loop districts strikes me as the quintessential Exalted High Emperor of Partisan Patronage. During his terms in office, BillyMac appointed 102 pals to the Senate.

    This, even during the brief period when he stayed on as PM, when he had lost his seat, where he ruled this nation from outside the House, having set up office in the cloakrooms and hallways of the Parliament buildings. He even appointd a number of unelected folks into the Cabinet, with a couple of them eventually winning a seat, then going on to become PM.

    ttfn

    tj

    t.e. & o.e.

  39. Things that needed to be said are finally being said. Thank you.

  40. Re Northern PoV:

    Thugs? Politicians? Oh yeah! You mean like Chretien feeling rocky and brave when he's surrounded by a phalanx of heavily-armed RCMP and Secret Security types, then and only then will he try to strangle some frozen homeless activist. Of course, one on one – "mano a mano," hand to hand, as when some intruder broke into 24 Sussex, and the night security crew was diddling da dog, then "Da StreetFighter from Shawinigan leaves the combat to his wee wifey, her being armed with a soapstone chunk of Innu sculpture. By I err – Chretien's behaviour is not really that of a true thug, it's more of a bully. Growing up on the mean streets of the lower East side of Montreal, many a Frano-hero's battle cry would have been:

    " . . . Hey derr, yah, YOU, you Bloke. Or YOU, you maudite poe-lacque. Remember dis: you fight me – you fight my gang."

    All Librano heroes of entitlement especially Chretien, Martin, Da Igg = pseudo thugs at best.

    ttfn

    tj

    t.e. & o.e.

  41. The Senate should be abolished yesterday. It is pure unmitigated pork barreling at its lowest. It violates the core principles of democracy . It is useless, expensive and makes us look like a banana republic. Tories and Grits are equally blameworthy . With no leadership in office or in opposition we will continue along our merry way oblivious to this patent violation of democracy.

  42. Harper killed his horse riding in on it.

  43. I'm still sitting by the phone after all these years. I'm at least as qualified and as stupid as any other hack and I could use the money.

    • Ah well, that's your problem! You need to be more in-your-face, not sitting back passively waiting by the phone. Buck up, there's still time to work those contacts–I understand another wave of Senate appointments will be coming along in the next year or so.

      But once you get there, could you please remember it was a little person that gave you this advice, and actually try to do your best for the people that pay you, not for the guy that hired you?

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