Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint to the Senate three failed Conservative candidates – including two senators who quit to run in the election – is reaping growing calls to abolish the upper house since, critics say, it now appears the Tories can’t be trusted to reform the chamber.
Jason Kenney, who remains immigration minister after last week’s cabinet shuffle, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to reform the Senate Sunday.
Kenney responded to criticism, notably by some provincial premiers, of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to appoint three losing candidates in the May 2 election to the upper chamber of Parliament.
Speaking on CTV’s Question Period, Kenney said: “(The provinces) can fix this by bringing in provincial elections for senators.”
Kenney held up the example of the 2007 appointment of Bert Brown to the Senate. Brown was the second person appointed to the upper chamber in Canadian history after winning provincial senate elections. He won the election, sponsored by the government of Alberta, in 2004 by more than 300,000 votes. deals with election of senators – before the end of its mandate in 4 1 &2 years.
Uppal lashed out at Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter who, earlier this week, condemned the appointments. Uppal said he was “equally disappointed” that the premiers hadn’t consulted with voters to fill potential Senate vacancies in their provinces.
Wall, in particular, was very critical of Harper, saying the prime minister had taken “away momentum for change” at the provincial level and set back the cause of Senate reform.
“It will probably increase calls that we hear from time to time just saying, ‘Do we really need this institution?’ ” the Saskatchewan premier added.
Uppal warned that if provinces didn’t set up Senate elections, and pay for them without Ottawa’s help, the Harper government would keep appointing more senators.
“Provinces that do not take us up on our offer, we will fill those Senate vacancies in those provinces with individuals who support our Senate reform goals,” he said.
Wall’s nosing in on federal issues in recent months is perplexing. He has nothing really to gain from, first, supporting a potential Harper minority government during the election and, second, taking the lead in criticizing the prime minister’s Senate appointments. No one asked him for his opinion on the former, and if he felt so strongly about the latter, he should have pledged to hold an election for senators-in-waiting in November’s provincial election.
There is no need for the federal government to fund these elections. As the Tiger points out, the precedent has been set in the United States. Once you start appointing elected senators, such as Bert Brown, it begins to de-legitimize those who got to the Red Chamber based on connections or political expediency. It can happen.
I like Wall, but I’m afraid he has a bit of tendency to open his mouth without invitation, and this might get him into trouble some day.