Monday, June 06, 2016

The Future Belongs To The Independents

Bill C-14 has gone to the Senate. Who knows what will happen to it there? A clue can be found in independent senator Frances Lankin's email to several of her colleagues:

“For your information, I intend to submit amendments to; 1) establish another review process focusing on Informed Consent and the social conditions and social determinants of health issues that can limit peoples’ real options and lead them to considering MAID because other alternatives of support are not available…and 2) to establish an end date for the reviews of eighteen months from the date of commencement…I will continue to discuss Senators Cowan and Carignan’s amendments with them (and engage Andre and Murray) and will let you all know how that is proceeding. Frances”

Michael Harris writes that the Trudeau government is passing legislation to independent senators to stick handle through the Senate:

The same strategy is being followed with Bill C-7, the RCMP union bill, which would give the Mounties the right to collective bargaining. That bill is being carried in the Senate by former Liberal, and now independent senator, Larry Campbell. Another new independent appointee, Sen. Andre Pratte, is likewise steering the government’s Air Canada bill through the Red Chamber. As one senator put it to me, “In all cases, the newbies are being given a chance to shine.”

The independent senators know they are the wave of the future. But they also realize they are being discriminated against by the traditional factions still in control of the Senate. In a June 1, 2016 letter to Sen. Donald Plett, Chair of the Selection Committee, Sen. Elaine McCoy, demanded fair representation on Senate committees for Independent senators.

That's where the battle has been joined -- between the newbies and senators who are used to operating in the time honoured fashion. It will be interesting to see how that battle ends.



Pamela Mac Neil said...

It should be interesting how this does turn out Owen. By the way I like your quote today. It is sometimes very true.

Owen Gray said...

As I recall, Pam, Udall was a committed environmentalist who served in the Johnson Administration. He was someone who knew something about power -- and about how it could be abused.

The Mound of Sound said...

Peter Hogg, known well to every law student even going back to my day, testifies before the Senate today. Hogg, now 77, is the unrivalled expert in Canadian constitutional law. Even the Supremes regularly consult his texts.

Hogg released his speaking notes to Canadian Press. As expected he concludes that Trudeau's truncated bill is plainly unconstitutional. He sums it up bluntly, "What judge would not strike down the end-of-life provisions?"

We know what the law on assisted dying is. It is plain from the Carter decision, a per curiam ruling. Unless our prime minister has elevated himself to King, the Carter ruling stands. Justin, much as he seems to believe otherwise, doesn't exist as a superior of the Supreme Court of Canada. Curious how Harper had the very same instincts as Slick.

There's a reason Canadians trust their judges and their doctors far more than they trust any politician. That's because judges and doctors are trustworthy.

Owen Gray said...

As I've said before, Mound, when the bill passes -- and I hear the Senate could pass it quickly with a few amendments -- it will immediately return to the Court. And the court will have the final say.

The Mound of Sound said...

All the court can do, Owen, is to strike down the parts of it that are unconstitutional. If that leaves enough intact there might be some type of legislation surviving. If not we'll have no law on assisted dying. Three courts have already made clear they will follow Carter. It is the law of the land. The rest will do likewise. I wish the prime minister was above playing games with people's lives. Obviously not.

Owen Gray said...

The problem, as I see it, Mound, is that there is a potential conflict between the freedom to choose the circumstances of one's death and the right to guarantee security of the person. Having seen relatives on both sides of my family fight over the estate of someone, I can imagine some people trying to influence what should be an individual decision.

Anonymous said...


Your title made me think you were talking about MP's, the kind intelligent people could elect, the kind who would act to represent their constituents instead of Party regimes, latent ideologies, or simple old school income self-preservation. C'est la vie?

Owen Gray said...

Independent MP's are rare birds, indeed, Anon. Independent senators will soon be a majority in the House of Sober Second Thought.