Rathgeber on the Senate 'show trial' - Macleans.ca

Rathgeber on the Senate ‘show trial’

‘The Conservative Senators’ participation in this farcical theatre undermines the very purpose of having a Chamber of Sober Second Thought’


Yesterday, Independent MP Brent Rathgeber addressed the House on the question of whether the Prime Minister should testify at committee about the Duffy affair. Today, Mr. Rathgeber writes about why the process in the Senate was flawed.

Much has been written about the hypocrisy, the violation of the rules of procedural fairness, and the violation of the rule of law demonstrated yesterday. Comparatively little has been said of the illegality of the suspension motions themselves.

Section 55 (1) of the ‘Parliament of Canada Act’ states: “There shall be paid a sessional allowance at the rate of […] to each of the members of the Senate and the House of Commons.” The omitted words set out a complicated formula to determine and periodically adjust the sessional allowance of Senators and Members. The operative words “there shall be paid a sessional allowance” statutorily guarantee a Parliamentarian’s salary. In all likelihood, the purpose behind the statutory guarantee is to prevent and protect against the very abuse of process we have just witnessed, where a majority can use its might to strip a political liability of his or her office and livelihood.

I suspect the Government lawyers know this. This only reinforces the argument that the entire charade was a show trial, performed exclusively to allow the PMO to assert that it took care of things. But the Conservative Senators’ participation in this farcical theatre undermines the very purpose of having a Chamber of Sober Second Thought. For the majority of the Senate to allow themselves to become puppets in the PMO’s political calculation does more to discredit the Chamber than the padding of the expense accounts of their now expelled brethren.


Rathgeber on the Senate ‘show trial’

  1. I’m beginning to like this guy…..

    • Is he running again? I’ll send a $10 donation for his campaign (I don’t live in Alberta) just to help ensure people with his integrity remain in Parliament

      • I have no idea [I’m in Ont]…..he’s outside caucus, so maybe not….but they need people like him.

      • I’ve been thinking the same thing. I really hope he does run again.

  2. Move over, Michael Chong . . . by the way, where is he? I haven’t heard anything from him in a long time.

    • Staying out of trouble.

  3. Emma Goldman – Anarchy:

    “All voting,” says Thoreau, “is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.” A close examination of the machinery of politics and its achievements will bear out the logic of Thoreau.

    What does the history of parliamentarism show?

    One has but to bear in mind the process of politics to realize that its path of good intentions is full of pitfalls: wire-pulling, intriguing, flattering, lying, cheating; in fact, chicanery of every description, whereby the political aspirant can achieve success. Added to that is a complete demoralization of character and conviction, until nothing is left that would make one hope for anything from such a human derelict. Time and time again the people were foolish enough to trust, believe, and support with their last farthing aspiring politicians, only to find themselves betrayed and cheated.

    The State is the economic master of its servants. Good men, if such there be, would either remain true to their political faith and lose their economic support, or they would cling to their economic master and be utterly unable to do the slightest good. The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue.

    The political superstition is still holding sway over the hearts and minds of the masses, but the true lovers of liberty will have no more to do with it.

    Aaron Ramsey – he score’s when he wants!

    • A little giftee for you Hester….I heard your cri de coeur the other day about annoying Paleo diet types…..so when I found this, I thought of you.

      Turns out there’s no such thing. Pass it on.


      • thankee.

  4. Harper the puppet master: ‘ See, see, watch then dance for me. See what I can do. Bet’cha don’t think my plan to reform the dump was so crazy now eh, suckers!’

  5. Rathgeber raises a very good point, one I saw raised early on in some media when these motions were first introduced, but lost during the frenzy after the first round from Duffy. Indeed, I wonder how Harper et al will sell it if federal judges confirm this interpretation and hold the Senate majority and the CPC government in contempt for this action. Probably more of his unelected Liberal judges out to get him and/or out to sabotage “real democracy ™” in action garbage. The action taken by the Senate at Harper’s direction (and whatever the parties involved like to say it was quite clear where these motions came from, why they were brought, and why they were rammed through so rapidly, and it wasn’t because the new Conservative leader of the Senate suddenly decided it so) was one of the most obscene process abuses I have ever heard of in our political history, and makes Harper look more and more Nixonian in the way he does things. I would equate the level of process abuse and abuse of power/position used to protect Harper here as on a par with the infamous Saturday Night Massacre from the Nixon years, the one that led to Sol-Gen Bork in the acting AG’s position and trying to protect Nixon during the Watergate scandal’s early period (which also led to his being blocked from the US Supreme Court in the 80s, properly so in my view given what Bork was willing to abandon in terms of the integrity of due process). Its a pity no one in the Conservative Senate leadership showed the integrity of the then US AG and his Deputy AG in the refusal to remove Special Prosecutor Archibald when he became such a a threat to Nixon, much as these three Senators had become to Harper were they to remain in the Red Chamber, by their presence and in the case of Duffy also because of his ability to speak form the Senate floor without having to worry about CPC lawsuits trying to gag him..

    The largest problem with Harper as PM has been his utter and naked contempt for due process, the rule of law, and the notion that he is as bound to follow that rule of law as any other Canadian, indeed by virtue of his high Office even more obligated than the average citizen at that. Harper has shown in the past his utter contempt for how our basic democracy works during his minority days when he hid the Afghan detainee documents despite a majority vote of Parliament demanding they be presented and defended that obstruction to the Speaker by claiming that the Parliament could not force their release because the governments power was superior to that of Parliament as a whole, which is complete insanity in a Parliamentary system where all power and authority of government is derived from the Parliament, civics 101, as the then Speaker clearly ruled. So for Harper to yet again ignore what is legal for partisan political purposes is sadly no surprise, and it underscores yet again what makes him so fundamentally different than any of his predecessors, and why he is so dangerous to this nation. It is not because of his ideology, or policy, whatever issues one may have there pale in comparison to his process side problems, it is there he has done the real damage to Canada IMHO.

    Rathgeber only underscores that most ugly truth about Harper, that he believes himself to be above the law, that the law is for others to have to follow, and there can be no more dangerous mentality in a head of government in a democratic society than that regardless of where on the political spectrum one may claim to sit. THAT is what makes Harper so intolerable, and it is that which is at the core for so many people having such intense negative feeling about him I suspect, because they sense just how much Harper the elitist looks down on on the core values of Canada as a nation where due process, the rule of law, and the Just Society to be dismissed and trampled upon, if not worse. This action with the Senators is only the latest in a long string of examples of Harper’s contempt for the law (and that means civil as well as criminal, too often people forget that there is more than criminal codes to what something being legal/illegal is) when it got in the way of his wishes, and especially for anyone that actually cares about a law and order agenda that should be anathema, it sickens me how many of Harper’s supporters claim to care about law and order issues and yet fail to see that the most dangerous entity on law and order currently sits as the Prime Minister of Canada thanks to their support. A bitter irony indeed…


  6. That seems a stretch. From Rules of the Senate:

    15-2. (1) The Senate may order a leave of absence for or the suspension of a Senator where, in its judgment, there is sufficient cause.

    15-3. (1) While a Senator is under suspension:
    (a) the sessional allowance otherwise payable to the Senator shall be reduced by the amount remaining after any deductions required by any Act of Parliament;

    and also

  7. This ‘show trial” was done for Harper’s base. Does anyone know who exactly this base is?
    Joe Clark said Harper is the only PM he knows of who focuses exclusively on his base and not on all Canadians.