Monday, May 23, 2011

Senate reform is still on the agenda

With the hullabaloo over Mr. Harper's surprise Senate appointments on Wednesday, there was one thing left unnoticed by virtually all of the commentators, both for and against the appointments:

He didn't fill all the seats that were vacant.

To those that decried the appointments, questioning whether Senate reform is really on the agenda, this is exhibit A to prove that it's still on deck.  Mr. Harper only appointed enough Senators to get an unquestioned majority in the Senate.  He only appointed enough Senators to ensure that he has 4 solid years to implement his reforms without having to appoint another Senator.  The standings in the house are now 55/45/2/2 with one vacancy.  There will be 25 Senators retiring in the next 4 years - 14 Conservatives, 10 Liberals and 1 Progressive Conservative.  After those retirements, the standings will still be 41/35/1/2 with 26 vacancies.  At no point in the next 4 years do the Conservatives lose control of the Senate.

We also heard this week on Byline (no video available on the website) that Bert Brown has now changed his position on term limits and will now sit until he's 75.  The only problem with this complaint is that Bert Brown is currently 73 years old.  Even if there WERE term limits, Mr. Brown wouldn't have sat for a full term because he was 69 when he was appointed to the Senate.

So there you go folks.  The Conservative Party's communications strategy may be in need of improvement, but at the end of the day, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the last time we hear of Senate appointments before passage of Senate reform bills.  It's up to the provinces to do their part.


  1. In the Sun News commentary I found Jerry Nichols actually kind of silly. I hope he doesn't continue down the road of becoming a legend in his own mind.
    PM Harper is continuing on a sound approach to Governing and it great to watch him do his job.

  2. It'd be odd to wait until the end of his term to fill those senate seats. Waiting to be attacked during the next campaign?

    Since most provinces refuse to hold elections and the 5 regions will never agree to senate reform most seats would remain vacant to be filled by the next Parliament. P.M. Layton/Rae?

  3. melvin: Was that Nicholls? I might have to go take another look for his OpEd.

    defgh: I didn't say that Mr. Harper would leave those seats vacant before the next election, my understanding of the legislation is that it is for Senate elections or other public consultations to fill the seats - in other words never again to be left solely to the discretion of the Prime Minister.