Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Force To Be Reckoned With

Yesterday, Justin Trudeau gave Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair migraines. Micheal den Tandt writes:

In one bold, risky and unexpected gambit, Justin Trudeau has turned the national debate about the Red Chamber on its head, blasted a crater-sized hole in the Conservative government’s strategy to sell its version of Senate reform, and forced NDP leader Tom Mulcair to play catch-up on his marquee issue.

Trudeau knows that the Supreme Court will rule that the Senate cannot be reformed without the participation of the provinces. He also knows that Harper doesn't negotiate with the provinces. He knows too that, while Mulcair might get Brad Wall's support to abolish the Senate, there are other provinces steadfastly opposed to abolition.

While Harper and Mulcair will argue that they have been stymied by institutional inertia, Trudeau will argue that he has begun to reform the Senate from within. There are potential pitfalls, of course, such as the identity crisis Liberal senators now face. Perhaps they will call themselves Independent Liberals. After all, the Conservatives used to be the Progressive Conservatives. And before that -- under John A. Macdonald -- they were the Liberal-Conservatives.

It's beginning to look like Pierre's kid is a force to be reckoned with.


CK said...

I liked the move.

It was fun to watch Skippy Poilievre try to scramble as he feebily screeches that Trudeau still supports an unelected senate. But then, Hyper Conservative partisans may well buy it given they're incapable of critical thought. But still, it is as plain as day to the rest of us that Skippy was spewing the same conservative hot air -- Harper appointed 59 partisan senators during his tenure. None are elected.

Sure he went to the supreme court, but only after the Duffy, Brazeau and Wallen affairs blew open. Since 2006, harper had promised an elected senate. He never even made any kind of effort.

Trudeau, a third place party leader, found a way without opening the constitution to start the ball rolling on senate reform.

To me, it shows that Harper, a PM, claiming to be powerless over reform, yet a leader of a third place party manages to do something.

As for Mulcair, let's be fair, he has no NDP senators and his party has never formed government. We don't know what he would've done and how. Mulcair couldn't do anything this bold regarding the senate anyway.

I did think Mulcair did a good thing in his own rite and following his fifteen minutes of huffing and puffing over Trudeau's gambit, he went straight to Fantino's mistreatment of Veterans and the fact that a family of a soldier who committed suicide was forced to pay back a disability payment. Disgusting.

Mulcair does well to spend time on this issue rather than on Trudeaus' gambit to which he really has nothing to offer for the reasons I mentioned above.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, CK. Mulcair and the NDP have no skin in the game when it comes to the Senate.

But the Conservatives' hypocritical treatment of veterans is an outrage. Mulcair should focus on that issue.

ron wilton said...

I am guessing the Peter Mansbridge also swallowed a couple of Tylenols before retiring last night as well.

Trudeau the younger wailed each and every Mansbridge spitball out the park with ease and finality, makeing poor Peter look like a minor leaguer.

I doubt harper could or would be subjected to that kind of heat.

It looked to me like a shooting star rising light years above a falling star.

Owen Gray said...

The Conservative line, Ron, is that Trudeau the Younger is a lightweight. Like all of the other tripe coming out of the PMO these days, it appears to be just more hot air.

The Mound of Sound said...

What I've found fascinating, Owen, is how the political partisans of all stripes are reacting to this.

It seems that the more closely one is invested in a political party the more likely that person will dislike Trudeau's policy.

Liberal hangers-on don't like it. The NDP insiders are infuriated. We know how well it's gone over with Tories.

Yet there's another group that does like it - the Canadian people. What good is there for the people from senators who exist merely to be water carriers for their party leader in the House of Commons?

The Senate is supposed to have a functioning degree of independence, vital to serving the country. Putting it into servitude to the hyperpartisan Commons completely defeats that independence. You can't serve two masters.

We need only look at Wright-Duffy to witness how powerfully the Senate has been perverted. Nigel Wright was issuing marching orders for the Conservative Senate leadership. The PMO was running the goddamned Senate and that was being perpetrated at the expense of the country and the Canadian people.

And so, to every Liberal hack, to every New Dem hack, to every Tory hack - shove off.

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Mound. Trudeau has simply returned the Senate to what it was meant to be -- a chamber of independent, sober, second thought.

It has been none of those things. And the "true believers" don't want it to be any of those things.

The Mound of Sound said...


The NDP could have had a senator. one appointed by Paul Martin, but they rejected her. Best of all she's from Saskatchewan where the NDP doesn't hold a seat. This is from Lillian Dyck's SoC web page:

"I was appointed to the Senate of Canada in the spring of 2005 by former Prime Minister Paul Martin. In my naiveté, I decided to become a New Democratic Party (NDP) senator, but was immediately rejected by the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton. The federal NDP did not know me as I had not been politically and publicly active and they had not bothered to contact me to enquire about my senate appointment. In fact, they did not do their homework to find out that I was a First Nations, First Generation Chinese, Feminist, Scientist and Senior University Administrator. The NDP would not allow me to join their caucus, but the NDP women did invite me to their meetings. After a year or so, I changed my designation to Independent NDP and then in 2009, I joined the Liberal caucus."

She was obviously a bad fit for the NDP - First Nations, first-gen Chinese, feminist, scientist, PhD, university administrator - no they can't be polluting the cause with any of that nonsense.

Owen Gray said...

I was unaware of this case, Mound. It wasn't a bright move then; and it certainly doesn't look like a bright move now. Paul Martin was no hyper partisan. It was he who appointed Hugh Segal to the Senate.

Dana said...

Layton was such a sanctimonious toad. Canada may be the only country in the world that would that would uncritically canonize such a grinning quisling.

Owen Gray said...

I liked Jack, Dana. But the truth is that he played a part in Harper's rise.

History will take note of that fact.

e.a.f. said...

Liked what the kid did! Sends a strong message it isn't business as usual. It will serve him well in the next election. Abolishing the Senate is not a good idea. This move has also distanced the Liberals from any fall out of the audit. Now perhaps the former Liberal Senators will vote in accordance with what works for their province/territory and become a house of second sober thought. If the Senate ceases to be a reward for over the hill politicians or a reward for donations, then it might work.

The kid not only has a former P.M. as a father, but his maternal grand father was a cabinet minister, in previous administrations. That is how his father met his mother.

Owen Gray said...

Justin is no stranger to how government works, e.a.f. There is government service on both sides of his family.

Contrary to Conservative spin, he is proving to be no lightweight.