Thursday, August 27, 2009

He Feels His Idealism Slipping Away

If the Liberals got into power again before Senate reform was possible, would the Conservative Senators in office give up their seat simply because their self-imposed eight-year limit was up? Not a snowballs chance in Tahiti. There is no way they would leave their seat to be snatched up again by the Liberals.

So where would that leave us? Well, nowhere really. Except we’d have a whole lot more unelected, unaccountable Conservative Senators...

Let me intensify your despair, Raphy. Deep down, Harper likes the Senate just as it is. He gets to pass silly "tough on crime" measures, blame the Liberals when they go nowhere in the upper house, and reintroduce them later. The same chunk of red meat gets thrown to the bubbas again and again, see? Assuming the current government sticks around long-enough to attain a Senate majority, watch all these symbolic gifts to the base mysteriously disappear. Because Harper would have to actually think about the consequences of his legislation.


Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

I blog today about the mistake Harper is making in filling these Senate seats.

But - that being said, the worst, truly, that can be said about this act is it make him no better than the Liberals.

Glass house.



MERBOY said...

RE: roblaw...

"But - that being said, the worst, truly, that can be said about this act is it make him no better than the Liberals."

That being said... this Conservative government was elected specifically to do a better job... that was almost their entire campaign in 2006.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

..just out of curiousity..

Let's suppose that Harper stood up today and said, "No, I'm not going to fill these seats.. today it will not be business-as-usual in Ottawa. I will await the next election, whenever that comes, and seek a mandate to fill those seats with Senators chosen by the citizens, not by me.."

Would you change your perspective?

MERBOY said...

RE: roblaw...

I think I would be mostly shocked if this incarnation of the Conservative party could ever get a proper mandate with the way it has been operating and the types of policy they have been pushing.

Senate reform seems like a nice idea... but because real changes require opening up the constitution and getting approval from the provinces... ultimately it just feels like a huge waste of effort... when there are plenty of other more pressing issues... which is probably why when they do polls and rank the issues it's never anywhere near the top.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

So.. if that's the case.. do we just do the "same old, same old" and fill the seats?

I'm curious.. as clearly this site is mostly Liberal and reasonably well read..(don't get a big head Murphy)..

Would it make any difference, anyway? If Harper did break out of the mold, would it matter to anyone who isn't supporting him right now anyway? I'm in a debate on my own blog and on another blogging tory blog on this point..

What are the thoughts of non-Harper supporters?

bigcitylib said...

It wouldn't matter to me because I don't give two sticks about Senate reform. As far as I'm concerned, Harper is entitled to stuff those seats with any warm body he wants to, although I do think he could find a better class of person to put there. The issue is really an internal Tory thing, although its fair for our side to laugh at your distress.

Gayle said...

roblaw - I have no problem with Harper filling the seats with all his flunkies.

My problem is with the fact he promised he would not do that. He railed against the LPC's patronage appointments.

This stuff about having to appoint his guys in order to change the senate is pure nonsense. In the first place, it is not possible to make any substantial changes to the senate without constitutional reform.

Who cares about term limits? How do they address concerns about accountability?

So, the only way Harper can present his plan for the senate honestly is to

a) tell us what his plan is. Does he support a Triple E Senate?

b) tell us that he will be seeking constitutional reform in order to implement senate reform, and

c) acknowledge that opening up the constitution will mean that all kinds of reforms on top of senate reform will be on the table.

If he is serious about senate reform he will make that his platform, and Canadians can choose.

MERBOY said...

roblaw said...

"So.. if that's the case.. do we just do the "same old, same old" and fill the seats?"

If I were Harper I would probably officially drop the whole idea... but make more of an effort to appoint people that aren't total hacks... I mean Mike Duffy who just coincidentally was responsible for one of the biggest slams against the opposition during the election that had just barely happened ?

I think his current positioning on the senate doesn't really please anyone.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

I guess your point is well taken Gayle.. and I've often thought the idea of Senate reform is apt to open up a can of worms bigger than it might be worth - particularly in Quebec, who has never ratified the Constitution in the first place..

And I tend to agree. You made a promise, live up to it. Table a Constitutional reform bill.. or, drop it already. This "quasi-reform" is no real reform at all..

Ti-Guy said...

I just can't get enough of Rob's debating style: "If you were to imagine a reality completely different from the one we currently inhabit, would you change your mind?"

I never understand what information that type of inquiry is supposed to elicit.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

Not everything is an argument or a debate, TG - some things are just discussions with a view to expanding our perspective.

I'm not advocating that he should fill the seats, in fact, I've clearly stated on my own blog that he shouldn't.

The question I asked was simply, "Does it make any difference anyway?"

I think it does. Maybe not to hard-line haters - but to that big swing vote, people who teeter back and forth - my own view is that the Conservative party would be better off in the long run taking a risk of letting those seats get filled by the Liberals if they lose the next election.. that the "swing vote" would respect that willingness to stand by a conviction in the face of risk.

I think you're uncomfortable with the question, because you don't want to give an honest answer to it - which would be:

a) I wouldn't vote for him or consider even softening my disdain for him, regardless of what he did (in which case, the suggestion is, he might as well fill up the seats); or

b) I would perhaps see that as a better course of action (implying that my comment, as a conservative, has validity - which I know would pain you greatly to admit).

Ti-Guy said...

I think you're uncomfortable with the question, because you don't want to give an honest answer to it

Why would I not want to give an honest answer?

I really don't care. Status quo, reform it, abolish it, it won't matter as long as politics continues to attract the types of people we can't seem to stop ourselves from electing/supporting.

I just disagree with your intent to frame this discussion in terms of the political calculus that aims to assess what's good or bad for one's party. I tend to prefer to discuss these things in terms of what constitutes good governance. I'd much prefer an experienced, committed Canadian appointed to the Senate than some sleazy, barely literate used car salesman elected to the House, for example.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

Ok.. fair enough TG.. and I probably agree. If we're going to give power to an arm of government, one might consider that life-time political appointments where there is no demonstrated ability to carry out their duties is no way to govern a country.

I think it used to be that the Senate was a benign sort of "rubber stamp" factory - however, suddenly, the Senate is this vibrant arm of government - declining to pass legislation, demanding change, etc.. and for a group of political hacks who have (with only minor exception) never been approved by the electorate is really a troublesome concept.

Robert G. Harvie, Q.C. said...

..and hence the proposed "Senator Idol" reforms on my blog. Couldn't be worse than what we're doing now - and at least would be entertaining.