Sunday, November 03, 2013

It's Not the Senate Steve Wants Abolished, It's Magna Carta

There's really no way around it - to Shifty Steve Harper, those who safeguard and uphold the laws of Canada are his enemy.  By 'those' I mean our courts.  When they uphold laws that get in Shifty's way, it infuriates the silly bugger.

Harper believes, by virtue of a single majority government from an election in which 60% of the voting public did not support him, that he is entitled to remake the Senate of Canada as he bloody well sees fit without the approval of the provinces or the Canadian people or anyone else for that matter.  Shifty believes it is not right that his will be blunted by laws and history going back to Confederation itself.  He is the law and Magna Carta be damned.

Harper whined mightily before a coven of desiccated old white men, a.k.a. the Conservative Party Convention in Calgary this weekend.  Shifty moaned and bitched and sniveled to the assembled Gullibillies about how his Divine will is being thwarted by the courts.   No need to point out that the courts only interfered because what he demanded the right to do was not only illegal but patently absurd.

Any federal government, with the requisite support of the provinces, can reform the Senate.  Together they could even require senators to wear those silly little monkey hats while seated in the upper chamber.  However the fanciful notion that a prime minister, by virtue of a majority of seats in the Commons, can do whatever he likes with the Senate is ridiculous.   That would entitle every subsequent majority government to rejig the Senate to suit its preferences, prejudices or perversions.

Shifty isn't dwelling on future governments.  He holds little to no regard for the future at all in his style of governance.  Countries pay dearly in the end when ruled by this sort of character.


Owen Gray said...

By shamefacedly playing to his base, Harper has left no doubt about where he stands and who he is.

Canadians should now understand why he is such a dangerous character, Mound.

rumleyfips said...

The attempt to install a judge representing Quebec with no thought for Quebec or residency rules may not stand Harper in good stead in the upcoming appeals.

A firm rejection of his judge on constitutional grounds will make senate abolition that much more difficult.

Purple library guy said...

I like the hats thing. Suppose we could get the provinces to go along with that one?

On a more sordid political note--looks like he's given up on seats in Quebec, eh? This is the kind of thing that infuriates Quebeckers: Actions that symbolically assert control over them, taking away their rights and/or agency. They'll be all "Who does that tete-carree bastard think he is, trying to ram a non-Quebec judge down our throats to represent us?"

It's stupid because the only people who will like it are the prairie base, and he's not going to pick up a stack of new seats there because he already has all of them. Really, I don't think anyone, even Conservatives, in BC or the Maritimes or Ontario is going to be clapping their hands at Harpo's showing those Quebecois who's boss over something pointless. If he was taking their money away and handing it to us, some might be pleased, but trying to humiliate Quebec over a judge? Nobody's going to vote for that. It just makes him look like the kind of guy arrogant enough to, I don't know, arrange to grab lots of taxpayers' money to give to senators so they can campaign for his party. Just to pick an example at random.

kootcoot said...

" However the fanciful notion that a prime minister, by virtue of a majority of seats in the Commons, can do whatever he likes with the Senate is ridiculous. "

Harper's predecessor Lyin' Brian started us down this road of willy-nilly Senate reform when he unilaterally increased the number of seats in the Senate to push through his GST (or was it the FTA?). Anyhoo to just add enough seats to change the balance in the upper house to pass your own stalled legislation makes a mockery of the Senate (which isn't difficult at the best of times) and all Canadians.

As an immigrant from Amerika, I could hardly believe that Canucks let that one pass without more push back! I'm certain Obama would love to appoint a few more members to the House of Representatives and Senate to grease the skids for legislation he favors, but the guns would come out instantly. Sometimes I'm amazed that no tea-bagger has attempted to assassinate him already.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, Owen, they should but do they? A key part of Harper's success has been his ability to cause an increasingly large segment of the public to simply tune out.

Rumley, hope you're right.

PLG - I agree. The true Red Neck Tories in the West probably enjoy Harper poking Quebec with a sharp stick but many Tories east of Manitoba won't be pleased.

Koot, what percentage of Canadians have you encountered with even a vague, working knowledge of the Senate? I am constantly appalled at the general ignorance of that institution. It's demoralizing.

Scotian said...


Yes, but even Mulroney followed the process to do so, he didn't just ignore it as we repeatedly see from Harper. When Mulroney went to the Queen, the problem was much more about how dare he involve her in our domestic disputes than it was about whether the legal process was being followed, which is what when you strip it to basics is at the core of Magna Carta, and why Mound is so correct in his argument that Harper holds it in utter contempt unlike any prior PM. I was one of those voices back before he came to power warning about how dangerous Harper was on process and rule of law concerns, not that it got me anywhere, but it is why I tend to refer to myself as Cassandra from time to time.


The level of ignorance of even the most basic civics by the average citizen of this nation has horrified me since my jr high school days over three decades ago. One of the problems of living in a society/nation as peaceful as ours has been since the end of WWII is how much people take for granted that such things look after themselves, especially when it comes to the dirty business of politics and governing (you would have thought the big repatriation dispute and creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms might have shown the fallacy in such thinking...sigh). One of my pet peeves is just how many people fail to even understand that the main reason politics is so important is that despite its flaws it beats transfers of power by might making right.

Process issues may not be sexy like policy and ideological conflicts, but I've always understood them to be the most important of all, because they create the conditions that enable all the rest to either work or not to work via a defined rule of law. If nothing else I am hoping that the Harper era reawakens the need to understand this within the wider voting public, if only to protect ourselves against another Harper from ruining whatever may be left of Canada as a progressive Just Society(tm) (sorry, couldn't resist) based on the rule of law. Harper is something we have never before faced from within at this level of power, which was why I was so dead set against him all along as my record more than amply illustrates. All Harper's speech has done is to illustrate and underscore yet again just how little anything other than his goals and desires matter regardless of whether those silly things like precedent, tradition and law happen to agree with him.

There is a reason I am so bitter about those that thought letting Harper come to power was a less risky/damaging choice than letting Martin stay in power for even a few months longer, and it not because of Lib partisanship, it is because it really was the far less damaging option for Canada, even if Martin had been the mastermind of the Sponsorship scandal, which clearly he never was. If we don't protect the process even before ideology/policy/partisanship then we deserve what we get, as sad as it makes me feel for saying that.

kootcoot said...

Thank you Mound and Scotian for your attempts to educate the masses (unfortunately I fear it is the "choir") about how things should actually be, which is much different than they are. I agree that Canadians are too comfortable and take things for granted and are too easily put off from even caring about who runs the show and why.

It caught my attention Scotian that you were over three decades out from HS graduation. My own high school class just celebrated our 50th reunion, which I refused to attend, as my high school was in the middle of a Republican bastion of actual members of the John Birch Societ, that I left the next day (after recovering from my grad night hangover) FOREVER. Where I grew up would have been a wonderful place to live 500 years ago pre the Spanish Invasion.

Scotian, I don't think I saw Harper coming with the degree of clarity you do, but now that he is here I certainly want him gone. And Mound, you are right about the average Canadian's grasp of how government works, as an immigrant I know that I know more about Westminster type government than most of them do AND the US style as well - I should I fought the DOJ for over a decade and WON!

Who was it that said "He who chooses to ignore politics will certainly be ruled by their inferiors," or something to that effect?

Scotian said...


Harper first popped up on my political radar back in the late 80s as one of the wunderkind policy wonks within Manning's Reform Party when I was taking a close look at it to see what to make of it, you know as any unaligned voter should when a new party comes out. I'm of the old fashioned belief that requires more than just voting but informed voting as a civic duty and responsibility, not just in its own right (which should be enough) but also as respect to those that came before not least those that fought and died in war so as to allow all of us to retain that ability. Anyway, Harper made an impression on me then so I kept an eye on him politically afterwards, including when he left politics for a time to join the NCC and his actions there and especially once he re-entered politics with the Canadian Alliance and the follow-up hostile takeover of the PCPC thanks to traitor MacKay.

Most people didn't see Harper coming like I did, at least not outside of those that were solidly in his corner all along. I remember how so many people thought he could never win, I knew he could but only if he changed his political colours enough, that so long as he ran on his actual political beliefs he was essentially unelectable as a government, but if he ever managed to come off as more of centrist right leaner then he could very well manage to slip into office and then enact his true agenda (that hidden agenda was very real, but the bulk of it was more process issues which cause the average person's eyes to glaze over, which is why the so-con stuff was what was focused on and what he needed to neutralize to win). I had a hell of a time getting people to believe he really could be that bad, that it was insane to let him anywhere near the PMO even as a minority PM let alone as a majority one. I have only ever called things as I saw them, not out of any partisanship for a party or leader, just out of what all the facts known showed me.

For example, I would get beaten up by Dippers for saying unite behind the Libs to stop him (and then later to prevent a majority), despite pointing out time and again that the voting demographics made clear that the odds of the NDP forming even a minority government were very marginal indeed, as 2011 proved out, because if it was ever going to happen it should have then, and yet we have what we have today. I prefer to deal with reality as it is, not how I wish it were, and that is something I find partisans of all sorts just aren't that good with. Which was why I blamed the leadership of the NDP far more than its supporters, because they were the ones that made the bad decisions that led us here, and were also the ones that were best positioned to see what Harper truly was all along.

I don't see myself as somehow so much smarter, more perceptive and so forth on understanding political strategies, realities, and personages than those at the heads of the national parties, so I have to assume they thought it was worth letting Harper have power because they saw it as electorally advantageous. Which in the short term it was but I suspect in the long term is going to bite them in the backside really hard since they failed to actually destroy the Libs despite all the efforts to try, and now they don't have the trusted charismatic leader (Layton), the Libs do with Trudeau and the NDP have a tough and somewhat angry leader at a time when that is not selling so well thanks to anger fatigue caused by a decade of Harper. As I said before I am more than a little bitter towards those that had the power and position to prevent this reality from coming about. I firmly believe as I pointed out back then that if they waited, Harper would fall, the CPC would be in a turmoil electing a new leader, the Libs would have been out thanks to voter fatigue with such a long running government leaving the NDP better positioned not only to be government but even possibly a majority to prove itself with. The path not taken indeed...