‘The Root Of Dysfunction in the Canadian Senate’

This story encapsulates a fundamental flaw in our Constitution. The Senate is supposed to be about “sober second thought”, designed to examine government legislation. This is particularly true when the government is drafting legislation that would produce a radical shift in Canada’s social fabric and traditions.

The problem is that Senators weren’t elected — or appointed by provincial governments — even though they’re supposed to represent provincial interests. The Senate has instead been used as a place for a Prime Minister to reward loyal supporters; hence, the Prime Ministerial impatience when the Senate actually tries to do their job. It’s particularly revealing in this case, considering the P.M.’s charade of supposedly appointing ‘independent’ Senators…

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reminding senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize recreational marijuana — a subtle warning that they should not attempt to thwart the will of Canadians or the government they elected.

“The reminder comes amid some uncertainty over the fate of the pot legalization bill as it faces a second reading vote in the Senate this evening… With more than a dozen ‘independent’ {‘Liberal’} and ‘independent Liberal’ senators travelling on Senate committee business and a handful of others potentially voting against the bill, Senate insiders believe tonight’s vote could be very tight…”

–‘PM warns Senators on cannabis bill ’,
Canadian Press, March 22, 2018

Feature PHOTO: Canadian Senate (Sean Kilpatrick–Canadian Press)


The Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (Sean Kilpatrick–CP)

“…These ‘independent’ Senators have voted closely with the government — more often than the “Senate Liberals” cut loose from the party in 2014…

{So-called} ‘Independents’ appointed by Trudeau’s predecessors voted with the government 88% of the time, while {so-called} ‘Independents’ named by the Prime Minister have stood with Harder in 94.5% of recorded votes.

This makes Trudeau’s {so-called} ‘Independents’ — as a bloc — the most reliable votes that the government can count upon in the Senate…”

–‘Why the Senate is unpredictable — and its independents not so independent’,
Éric Grenier, CBC News, June 19, 2017


Our stumbling, bumbling Prime Minister’s half-assed attempt at Senate reform is rebounding in his face:

“A more unpredictable Senate is forcing the ‘Liberal’ government to pay near-unprecedented attention to dynamics in the ‘Red Chamber’, documents obtained by the ‘Star’ suggest.

“Briefing notes to ‘Liberal’ cabinet ministers now include a greater focus on how laws are likely to be received by the Senate, the documents show…

“And it’s largely a headache of Trudeau’s own making.

“During the Senate expense scandal, then opposition leader Trudeau expelled ‘Liberal’ senators from his caucus and vowed to appoint “independent” senators when he became prime minister.

“Now, Trudeau’s government is having trouble advancing its agenda in a Senate dominated by “non-aligned” Senators, ‘Liberals’ free from party discipline, and ‘Conservatives’ almost constitutionally opposed to the ‘Liberals’ priorities…

“…Along with a greater focus on the Senate, ministerial briefing notes are also now being written so they can be more easily skimmed, and to put potential policy decisions up front…”

{That works better with a Prime Minister who has never read anything longer than a comic book…}
“It’s not just the Senate that is proving a challenge for the ‘Liberals’, however.

“A ‘Liberal’ proposal to “modernize” House of Commons rules has helped stall debate in that chamber for weeks.

“Government House leader Bardish Chagger’s proposals, which would dramatically change how the House of Commons operates, have been vigorously opposed by both opposition ‘Conservatives’ and New ‘Democrats’. You can’t change the rules of the game, the opposition argues, without the consent of the other players.

“The proposals have led to an opposition filibuster at the Commons procedure committee for weeks…


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