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.