Abolish the Senate and save future Michael Fortiers the disappointment

A Conservative senator questions the Senate’s “usefulness”


Five years removed from the chamber, former Conservative senator Michael Fortier—Stephen Harper’s first appointment—questions the Senate’s “usefulness.”

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Michael Fortier told host Evan Solomon while he didn’t believe in abolishing the Senate when he was a part of it, “if I had to choose today, I would say that I’m probably closer to closing the place down. I just don’t see the usefulness…

“I was very naïve… I thought it would be a different place than the one I found. I found it to be extremely partisan… on both sides, including my own. And it was very annoying because these people were trying to be members of parliament and they weren’t,” Fortier said.

Apparently Mr. Fortier didn’t find it to be a “stimulating environment.”

On that note, the New Democrats have tabled three options for their opposition day tomorrow.

That, in the opinion of the House, the government of Canada, in consultation with the provinces and territories, should take immediate steps towards abolishing the unelected and unaccountable Senate of Canada.

That, in the opinion of the House, given that the Auditor General has found that Senate “expense claim files do not always contain sufficient documentation” and that “it is difficult for the Administration to clearly conclude that expenses are appropriate”, an independent authority should be appointed to conduct an in depth review of matters related to Senate residency requirements, housing allowances and travel expenses since January 2008, including access to all relevant documentation and authority to interview all relevant persons, and that this authority report to the House on the following questions: a) whether any Senators have failed to comply with the constitutional residency requirements for the Senate of Canada as outlined in Sections 23 and 31 of the Constitution Act of 1982; b) whether any Senators have claimed housing allowances to which they were not properly entitled under Senate rules; and c) whether any Senators have incurred travel or transportation expenses not relating to parliamentary functions including travel to any personal residence not within either the province or territory they were appointed to represent or the National Capital Region.

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should not further increase Senate spending or reduce spending for the Senate Ethics Officer for fiscal year 2013-14 and that it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates that it conduct a study of other means by which the Senate’s budget could be reduced.

The second and third options are perhaps more practical, but the first might make for the more interesting debate.


Abolish the Senate and save future Michael Fortiers the disappointment

  1. Well if going after Duffy and his crowd help us get rid of the Senate I’m all for prosecution.

    However the change shouldn’t come about just because of the occasional passing sleazy appointee or padded expense account but on general principle.

    The Senate should be abolished because it’s a useless and unnecessary layer of govt that’s 150 years out of date…..and electing rather than appointing them won’t change that. It’ll just cost more, and cause American-style gridlock.

  2. Fortier also said he didn’t know that much about Senate Reform but knew ‘there was something before the SCC’ right now. Abolition is a perfectly legitimate option, but my goodness, does our national broadcaster not at least have a responsibility to bring someone on the air who has an idea of what they’re talking about?

    • So we hold the CBC to a higher standard than a prime minister
      constructing a cabinet ?

      • No. I’m unsure what one thing has to do with the other.

      • We’ve long since become conditioned not to expect the current Prime Minister to adhere to any kind of standard of competence. Tony Clement and Peter van Loan are daily living reminders of that.

  3. “And it was very annoying because these people were trying to be members of parliament and they weren’t,”, said the failed candidate for an MP’s seat who somehow managed to end up in the cabinet anyway.

    • Actually, he ended up in cabinet long before he deigned to run and fail as a candidate.

      • Yes, come to think of it, you’re absolutely correct! IIRC he had to be kind of shamed into running in order to retain his ministerial post (Public Works I think)

  4. I don’t understand why residency is not an open and shut case of which province is listed on last year’s tax forms as their home province. What am I missing here?

    • You’re thinking like an honest peasant, which is admirable. I’m told this is how it works for the entitled Conservative elites:

      1. Sign a declaration that you are in compliance whether you are or not

      2. If caught, involve your spouse in making a halfhearted apology

      3. If the accountability problem persists, see your lawyer

      4. After exhausting all other avenues, volunteer to pay back some of the money (or in the case of your bribes being exposed just report them to the CRA retrospectively)

      5. Vote to send more peasants to jail for longer

  5. I’ll state my postion, once again, in regards to the ongoing debate about the Senate. If we can’t, as some people would like, abolish it once and for all, let’s at least limit these fat cat career politicians tenure in the red chamber to a term of eight years. Then cut them loose so that they have to compete out in the job market like the rest of us.

    • Many Senators are effectively retired before being named to the Red Chamber, so I don’t think they’d worry too much about competing in the job market. 99% of them would probably end up ’employed’ by a lobbying firm or would end up with paid appointments to various government boards anyway.

      It would be nice if they were cast out and had to suck on the teat of whatever political party they originally cheerleaded for in order to get their Senate appointment, rather than sucking funds from general revenues, nonetheless.

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