There has been much debate about Justin Trudeau's Senate gambit. Bill Tieleman claims that it is merely sleight of hand. But Lawrence Martin thinks it may be a big bang moment, which starts the process of democratic reform:
The Trudeau gambit could well touch off a chain reaction or at least provide momentum for more reform. There is much criticism of his exploit – and much of that criticism is justified. But there is broad support. People are fed up with hyper-partisanship. Even conservative groups like the Canada West Foundation and commentators like Robert Fulford see value in what the young leader has done.
In contrast to the prime minister, Trudeau has done some power pruning:
There is no mistaking the overall effect of the measure. It is a peeling back of power. It strips the leader of caucus numbers and Senate influence. It provides greater independence to a legislative branch of government heretofore heavily influenced by the party leader’s dictates.
Trudeau's decision stands in stark contrast to Harper's standard operating procedure. He has no intention of letting his senators go. He only dismisses them when they refuse to follow his dictates.
There are, to be sure, problems with what Justin has done:
While Mr. Trudeau has set senators free of his party, he has not provided an adequate new formula for appointing them. A blue-ribbon panel to anoint senators will face all kinds of credibility questions.
Still, Trudeau the Younger may have begun a process which must happen if the Harper mode of government is to be brought to its richly deserved end.