Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Legitimacy Of Harper's Senate Appointees

With the latest set of revelations in the ongoing Senate Scandal, we find out that Senator Wallin spends the majority of her time living in Toronto.

Frankly, I don't much care where Ms. Wallin lives.  That is largely her business - except for that part of her life where she is being paid a rather sizeable sum of money by taxpayers to be a Senator representing Saskatchewan.  (I certainly haven't seen any declaration making Ms. Wallin's residence in Toronto a part of Saskatchewan, have you?)

So, now we have Mike Duffy, allegedly representing PEI who lives in Ottawa, Pamela Wallin representing Saskatchewan who lives in Toronto, and Senator Brazeau's residence has also been questioned (although with respect to whether he is eligible for the Senate housing allowance).  I am beginning to think that we have a more serious problem facing Canada than just a couple of corrupt senators who have been taking more than their fare share from the public trough.

I think that the issue has become one of determining if any of Harper's appointees are in fact representing Canadians and their regions at all - or are they all beholden to some other role that Harper has forged for them.  We know that Mike Duffy serves primarily as a campaigning and fundraising figure (or has done), Ms. Wallin appears to be acting as an adjunct representative to a myriad of events where Harper or one of his cabinet cannot appear.  Nobody has ever figured out just what Brazeau does (other than get into boxing matches with Justin Trudeau), but I have my suspicions that there is more to it.

The underlying point here is that Harper has an ugly habit of appointing people to the Senate so that they can be paid by the public for partisan work of some kind.  The man thinks in terms of power and retaining power as if it were the only thing that mattered.

In my view, that makes all of Harper's Senate appointments suspect.  While Duffy and Wallin have simply floated to the surface as being the most prolific abusers of the system, one might imagine that there is more lurking just below the surface.  Audit every last one of them, and the ones whose "work" appears to end up having more to do with a party role than actually representing Canadians should be dismissed from their post in the Senate - immediately.

Further, the Crown in Canada should begin a process of ensuring that Senate appointments are not partisan.  While the Prime Minister can make a recommendation of someone to the Senate, the Governor General is not obliged to accept any particular nominee.  As the Queen's representative in Canada, the GG is also responsible for ensuring that Parliament is able to function appropriately.  Given Mr. Harper's propensity for making everything partisan, it seems rational to me that the GG should step in and start curbing this aspect of Mr. Harper's behaviours as it is ultimately resulting in a dysfunctional parliament that does not serve the interests of Canada and Canadians.

[Update 16/08/13]
MP Charlie Angus has a few choice words on the matter as well.


Anonymous said...

Given Mr. Harper's propensity for making everything partisan, it seems rational to me that the GG should step in and start curbing this aspect of Mr. Harper's behaviours

That gets very difficult when you take into account that the Governor General also owes his job to Harper. This has been a situation dangerously open to abuse for decades; it's just that until Harper we have not had a Prime Minister so willing to abuse the system to its limits.


MgS said...

Yes, I recognize that, and agree with you.

That said, it's way past time to start countering Harper's excesses.

Ultimately, the GG is legally responsible to the Queen, not to the PMO. (Interestingly, the GG has their own set of advisors as well, not just the Privy Council)

Whether the current GG feels beholden to Harper in some way I cannot tell - he's kept a much lower profile than the previous occupants of that office.