Peter and Stephen -

Peter and Stephen


The Globe, Star, Canwest, Sun, CBC, Reuters and Bloomberg write-up various points from the Prime Minister’s conversation with Peter Mansbridge.

Video of the interview is available, in two parts, here and here.


Peter and Stephen

  1. None of this changes the fact that any Senate reform bill passed by Parliament will be as flimsy as the fixed election date law. The second the PM finds it inconvenient, he’ll tell the GG to appoint who he likes, regardless of the law.

  2. At first glance, the arguments in favour of an elected senate are overwhelming. However, given the nature of elections, such a conversion guarantees a senate populated by career politicians. Given the nature of party finances, fixed terms guarantees that whips in the Senate will become an devastatingly effective as they are in the Commons. Finally, given the concentration of power in the office of the PMO since Trudeau this reform could remove the Senate as a check on the authority of the PMO.

    Of course, the Senate has been a relatively ineffective check on the PMO's authority largely because it lacks the moral authority in the eyes of most of the public. Creating an elected Senate would go a long way towards establishing that authority so it is certainly a component of an improved system. However, it is essential that the independence of the Senate be established and protected through longer terms and revisions to campaign finance laws.

    Unfortunately, I doubt SH has any interest whatsoever in reducing his power over Conservative Senators. Indeed he continues to indicate that he has required ironclad support on specific legislation in exchange for appointment, something I find particularly troublesome.

  3. Harper has a minority in the Commons, but will soon have a majority in the Senate. As the only thing consistent in his political career has been his self-advancement and consolidation of power around him (remember when parliament had to be given so much respect when he was the one in opposition?) watch now as the Senate is given that much more political legitimacy in Harper rhetoric now that it can advance his agenda.
    The guy is so transparent I doubt he even casts a shadow.

  4. I can't believe they got rid of Chris.

  5. Also on the Senate reform thing, can anyone explain to me how having a Senate that votes in favour of a pretty obviously unconstitutional and unenforceable law is materially better for the country than having a Senate that slows the passage of a pretty obviously unconstitutional and unenforceable law?

    I didn't think it was possible for the Tories to champion legislation more constitutionally irrelevant and practically moot than their "fixed election date" law, but pretending they can reform the Senate unilaterally without consulting the provinces might just do it.

    Is our government really thumbing its nose at the constitutional supremacy of Parliament, ignoring majority votes in the House of Commons, and proroguing the people's legislative assembly so that they can stack the Senate to push through Senate reform legislation that essentially ignores the Constitution?

    During the fixed election date inanity, I really got the feeling that the Tories didn't understand our constitution (or our entire system of government for that matter). I'm no more convinced today that they understand the constitution, but I'm becoming increasingly convinced that they find it entirely inconvenient, and would like it to just go away.

  6. "The more comfortable our government becomes with the Canadian people, the more partisanship becomes the domain of the Opposition."
    I still can't get over this ending nugget of weirdness. The idea that the government needs to become more comfortable with Canadians is bizarre and there is no clear link between this and the assertion that follows. What happened in Steve's brain, eh? I am handing this one over to my Lacanian Analyst, we'll see what she says. :P

  7. It's worth noting that STephen Harper is the first non-lawyer PM since Clark and the first non-lawyer guy to serve more than a short term in much much longer. So he's going to have the weakest grasp of the legalities of constitutional issues (as was on display regarding his gay marriage interpretation, and his dubious remarks about the spending power).

    Couple that with a university education firmly rooted in the questionable "Calgary School" of political science thought, and at least every now and again you're going to see a bonehead meltdown.

  8. I don't think this is that opaque. Harper's government has kept its relative popularity, with the result, he hopes, that the opposition's complaints and issues begin to look increasingly as just pure partisanship.

    • I wonder now, a day later, if the latest polls make the Harper government more or less confortable with the Canadian people…

  9. "The government is the people. I am the government. I am the people. I am Canada."

  10. I think they understand the constitution – but they also know that most Canadians don't.
    If ignorance can work in Harper's favour…..

  11. I'd argue that.
    I'd suggest that what you're going to see at least every now and again is a well-thought out decision.

    The bonehead meltdown is the norm.

  12. At first glance, the arguments in favour of an elected senate are overwhelming.


    Depends on who's glancing.

  13. Try this: Liberal partisans have such a pre-conceived dislike for Harper that nothing could make them comfortable with him and his government. But as the rest of the Canadian people continue to see their capable PM here and on the world stage they become comfortable with him as Canada`a leader, not the Conservative leader.

    So Harper is the comfortable leader and the opp. party leaders appear to be annoying partisans.

    I thought it was a wise and revealing statement.

  14. I see him thumb his nose at Parliament and then I become comfortable with him as Canada`a leader even more offended by his wisdom

  15. Apply this logic to recent popularity polls, where approval of Harper runs in the low 30's, and you get some trippy results.