‘Right now, if Harper wanted to, he could be a complete dictator’


Senator Bert Brown explains why we need a Senate quite unlike the one we have now.

Conservative Sen. Bert Brown, who has been travelling across the country selling provincial premiers on Harper’s reform plans, told Postmedia News he wasn’t pleased by this week’s appointments and knows they have set off a firestorm. “That’s not what I want to see for the next generation, but (Harper) is legally . . . able to do that,” Brown said. “I’ll be honest with you, I think it will stir up the populace to say it’s time we had an elected Senate.”

Brown said abolishing the Senate isn’t a solution because, not only does it require reopening the Constitution, it would also mean that, “somewhere down the line, we could have a prime minister, with a majority government, who would be able to do anything.” “He would have no opposition, he could just pass bills, and how much damage could he do to do the country?” Brown, the only elected senator, asked. That’s why, Brown said, a strong Senate that reflects the will of the provinces is needed. “Right now, if Harper wanted to, he could be a complete dictator, because there is no way to stop a majority government,” he said.


‘Right now, if Harper wanted to, he could be a complete dictator’

  1. Ho hum….another sales pitch.

    • Ho hum…. another useless comment just so Emily can see her name on the Interwebs. You should really get a job or something to keep you busy. And seek psychiatric help.

      • I work on the ‘interwebs’ dear.

        And I don’t need either psychiatric help, or more senate sales jobs from Cons, thanks.

        You could use some help removing that chip from your shoulder though.

        • Trolling the Macleans blog is not “work” Emily. I’m talking actual gainful employment. As much as you hope, the Liberal Party of Canada will never pay you for your gibberish. Also, they’re broke, and have no hope of raising any funds in the next four years. This is why you should get a job, so you can donate to your party of choice.

          • No, I read the blogs here on my breaks.

            PS Libs aren’t broke, but I’m afraid I’m still not a Lib. LOL

          • The election is over Rick – and you won. And no more blaming the Liberals for everything, Harper is now on the line.  Get used to him being criticized, it happens to every PM.  I know it must be difficult to defend a lot of his behavior,  but as a loyal supporter, shouldn’t you at least try to defend him?

          • Seriously. Can you imagine what this chap would have been like had they lost?

  2. Oh please.  Harper can’t be a dictator right now.

    We have to wait til the House is sitting before that’ll happen.

  3. Sounds about accurate. Checks and balances have to come somewhere in between the four year periods of elections. A legitimately non-partisan Senate is still the simplest way. At the very least it doesn’t require redrawing the constitution.
    Term limits on Senators might be warranted, as would an end to Prime Ministerial appointments.

    • Given the current state of the constitution, who would appoint senators if not the PM?  I don’t really know how the constitution works with regards to senate appointments.  Does the HoC have any say, or is it just the PM?

      I realize, of course, if the HoC had a hand in appointments and there was a majority government, for all intents and purposes the PM would just be appointing senators in that case too.

      • The Governor-General makes Senate appointments, upon the advice of the PM.  The easiest fix to create a non-partisan Senate would be for the PM to set up a commission of some sort to make appointment recommendations, which the PM would then pass on to the GG.  This wouldn’t involve changing the constitution (at least not in a technical “we have to amend it” sense), but it would require the PM going along with it and deciding to keep it in place after the fact.

        FWIW, the HoC only has a say insofar as it does not toss the PM out on a confidence vote.

  4.  Nice of Bert to add the ‘tator’

  5. I was just reading a fascinating post that might explain why our pols are misbehaving more and more – we are rewarding them!

    “Powerful people often bend the rules. But here’s a twist: If someone breaks rules, are they then perceived as powerful?

    Scientists had 40 volunteers read various scenarios. One was about a person who, without asking, helped himself to a cup of coffee from another person’s pot. In another, a bookkeeper consciously ignored a financial error. The subjects also read about scrupulous coffee drinkers and bookkeepers. The subjects were then surveyed, and they rated the rule-breakers as being more in-control and leader-like than the conscientious types.

    In another test, being publicly rude also seemed to engender a perceived sense of power …… ”

    Scientific American, May 22 – 2011

  6. Bert’s the perfect guy to be spearheading this campaign. Not only is he completely correct, he’s the only Senator that’s got democratic legitimacy on his side.

  7. Canada has been around for 144 years, and there hasn’t been anything in all that time stopping any PM from being a dictator.

    However, none of them have been….and that’s because of the public….they damn soon tell a PM when he gets out of line.  Even over a trifling thing like a line in the anthem.  So I really don’t think we need to worry about it.

    But should some future PM try it….no senate, elected or appointed, could stop him.

    And no the appointments haven’t ‘stirred up a firestorm’….this is Con hype. We’ve seen lots of bad appointments over the years….so it isn’t likely to move us in Harp’s favored direction. Sorry.

    As to ‘opening up the constitution’….we’ve done it 10 times since we first got it…and nobody’s batted an eyelash, so there is no sense trying to make it sound like Armageddon. LOL

    • And how many of those ten were the post-1982 patriation and Quebec’s refusal to sign on?

      Methinks any attempt to open it these days will lead to more than just eyelash-batting…

      • All of them.

        It isn’t the big deal people imagine. It was even opened for Quebec.

        • The sooner Harper convenes a meeting of the premiers the better. The only reason he hasn’t done so is that in real terms, whether it’s called Senate reform,  judicial appointments and other appointments, it’s the powers of the PM to recommend appointments, and the pork barrelling that inevitably ensues, that rubs citizens the wrong way.  Would Harper agree to diminishing his powers?  I don’t think so.  His project for the Senate leaves this power intact – it is akin to the fixed elections date law.   I don’t see the problem coming from Quebec so much as from other parties.

  8. Canada could always count on its PM being a benevolent dictator, Harper has changed all of that. Harper is incapable of appointing non partisans.  Time for an elected senate to allow us little people to balance things out. 

    • You ‘little people’ will just pay for more campaigns, more elections, and another layer of govt….a duplicate layer in fact….plus we’ll have gridlock

      Abolish the senate.

    •  Reform yes – elected no.

      The elections we already have are pretty close to farce in terms of actually representing the views of most Canadians. If we can’t get meaningful reform then we might as well abolish this expensive clubhouse.

      • Yeah, I’m not sure why elections are meant to resolve the problems potentially caused by . . . other elections.

  9. h/t @dgardner 3 days ago

  10. We got what we voted for.  Up to now we have a Prime Minister who has done more for us than any Prime Minister we have ever had.  He has made us “Proud to be Canadian”    Thank you for giving us back our country Mr. Harper.  You are the Best and we are very proud of you.
    Things can only get better.

    • I was proud to be a Canadian before Stephen Harper. I’ll be prouder to be a Canadian the day my fellow Canadians turf his hypocritical ass. And my country never went anywhere.

      • I am a Toronto born white Anglo Saxon Canadian and I am proud of my Country and my heritage.   
        With the opposition parties Liberals, NDP it was obvious they were for anyone but Canadians, and still are.  Mr. Harper brought the life back  into our Country.
        No more Political Correctness.  Lifve with us and like us, or, leave us.

        • You are proud…. of being white?

          • Being proud of your complexion is weird, whether you’re proud of being white, black, brown, yellow, purple, green, etc.

          • If your complexion is purple, it’s weird whether or not your proud of it.

        • I like your honesty.

    • So, which staffer are you?

      • Sounds like it’s from the 3 new Senators.  They must be loving Canada right about now – who wouldn’t?

        • Everyone loves Canada now.  We have a Prime Minister who can now run the Country without being stabbed in the back or having someone from the opposition making fools of us on the Internatiional scene.

          • LOL which is why we lost our UN seat.

            We’re a joke internationally, hon.

          • Was not getting a seat on the Security Council really a ‘loss’? If we did the backroom deals that were needed, would we be a better country?

          • Yes, it’s a huge loss…a historic one in fact…seeing as we helped start it, and are famous for our peace-keeping.  Back room deals aren’t necessary…but bad behavior and a bottle of maple syrup don’t cut it.

          • Au contraire. The seat is now ‘won’ entirely by back room deals. If we have to do, and support, things that are against the best interest of Canada, and what is right, in order to get the votes needed for the seat, is it something that we want and/or need?

          • Ahh well, that’s your little loser fantasy. Enjoy yourself.

          • Great way to win a debate; name calling.

            The UN is pretty much a  useless organization. That we helped found it, and supported it in the past is great. Libya is a great example, but there are countless others.


            To criticize Canada for not ‘winning’ a useless seat is pretty short sighted.

          • When you lose something important, sniffing that we are too good for it anyway…doesn’t cut it. Mark of a loser in fact.

          • Emily: you never cease to amaze me  as to how you can ignore someone who makes a valid point, that you don’t agree with.
            I am not ‘sniffling’ about anything. I didn’t care when the ‘race was on’ for the seat, and I don’t care now. You are right that, when someone loses something important, and then says that they were too good for it, does not cut it. That is not what is happening in this case. The UN has proven itself to be an almost entirely useless, and horribly corrupt organization.

            If Canada wanted to do something worthwhile on the world stage, supporting an organization that upheld human rights would be a better use of time.

            Feel free to continue to post comments that contain no facts, and name call. Very good way to prove a point. (I would guess, that if a point is unprovable, name calling might be all that you can fall back on).

          • Harper lost something valuable for Canada, and you can’t cope with itso you name-call the UN.

            Wrong one to blame. Sorry

      • You too are obviously from the loosing side.   I am not a staffer, I am a True Canadian who knows what I want and goes for it.   Too bad you don’t think the same.

        • Nope sorry, not a Lib….and spare us the ‘true Canadian’ crap

          Everyone in this country is a Canadian.

          How old are you anyway?

        • Pleeease, Macleans – bring back the “dislike”!!! Some comments just beg for a down thumb.

        • I just accidentally ‘liked’ you – trust me that was a mistake.  Who the hell calls themselves a True Canadian – I’m guessing some sort of weirdo we should be worried about. 

    • Thanks for the laugh Josh!

  11. But… but… when the former Liberal majority in the Senate used their majority status to not advance Harper’s agenda, Harper’s party, including one Bert Brown, said that that was a bad thing.

    I am confoozed.

    Is it a good thing for one chamber in a bicameral parliament to act as a check on power? Is it a bad thing? Or does it depend entirely on whether the Prime Minister is a former Reformer named Stephen Harper?

  12. Dictator, oh you mean like Chretien.
    PS, Rick is right Emily!!!!!!!!!!

    • Rick is right about what precisely?
      All I’ve read from him here is some pathetic insults and a couple trite statments with no substantiation.
      Incidentally though, were you really so happy about Chretien’s “dictatorship” that you’re back for some more with Harper?

      That just seems weird to me.

  13. So, what would stop Harper from being a complete dictator if he had a majority in both the House and the Senate? Absolute power in the PM’s hands has nothing to do with the senate, and has everything to do with the utter impotence of MPs. We might as well rid ourselves of them, as they seem like vestigial organs in our new presidential democracy.

    Seems to me that Bert is tipping Harper’s hand: inflame the citizenry with brazen political appointments that are totally indefensible in order to build support for his pseudo-elected Senate reform scheme.

    • Bingo!

  14. All this hand wringing over the Senate is silly. It’s a neccesary institution, and the last thing I want is senators preoccupied with electioneering and all the time and costs that come with it. Not to mention the loss of perspective.
    They should, however, be appointed based on merit, not partisanship.
    Form a citizen’s committee and be done with it already.
    Every time appointments need to be made, a new committee is formed, chosen randomly from the populace and balanced by demographic.
    Simple, easy, non-partisan and best of all; it doesn’t require a constitutional ammendment.

    • I would like to see potential appointees non-political subject matter experts nominated by non-partisan committee or other bodies.

  15. Did anyone notice the contradictions here:

    “Brown said abolishing the Senate isn’t a solution because, …
    “somewhere down the line, we could have a prime minister, with a
    majority government, who would be able to do anything.” “He would have
    no opposition, he could just pass bills, … That’s why,
    Brown said, a strong Senate that reflects the will of the provinces is
    needed. “Right now, if Harper wanted to, he could be a complete
    dictator, because there is no way to stop a majority government,” he
    said.”The Senate will protect you from majority gov’t, but the Senate can’t protect you from the majority gov’t. What does he believe?

    I always thought that the way to ‘stop’ a majority gov’t was an election. If an elected Senate is the answer, why don’t we invent another house to elect members to, to be a check against the Senate. And once we have done that, we could invent another house, to elect people to, to provide a check against that one. . .

    • The senate reform Bert Brown is looking for involves equal representation for each province.  That means that representation will not be based on population.  Therefore, if Quebec is NDP, they would likely elect 3 NDP senators, Alberta 3 Conservative senators, Newfoundland 3 Liberal Senators, etc. So, whereas the NDP would never get any senators in the current system, in the reformed system, they would.

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