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Senate Reform (Canada) 2013: Constitutional Crisis in the Making?

04-Jun-13 09:19 pm EDT Leave a comment
H

aving one’s cake & eating it too seems to be the primary fixation of every politician ever borne these days — and in more ways than one.  From the office of Senator Mike Duffy, former CTV political affairs journalist, who’d swore he’d help Prime Minister Stephen Harper reform the Senate when he was first appointed to Justin Trudeau who see reform as absolutely essential whilst simultaneously promising, if elected, to leave constitutional reform of any kind on the back burner.  Yet both men, along with every other politician in the country appear to want what every Canadian wants: either a Senate that works or no Senate at all.

Duffy’s appointment was part of a greater plan by Stephen Harper to build what he called a “critical mass”, of like-minded Canadians who would agree to vote through the necessary legislation for a peaceful transition within the Senate at some (then) future date.  This would negate the need for another round of constitutional discord since senators would be voting within the system to either abolish or reform the upper house, depending on whatever deal could be made at that time (and whatever deal Canadians would ultimately approve of).  Harper seemed to be favouring an elected Senate; but didn’t say in the interview whether he supported the vision espoused by some of his fellow senators (eg. Sharron Carstairs of Manitoba) who’d favour a ‘Triple-E’ Senate model (elected, effective, and equal).

Whatever Harper’s ambitions, they seem to have come crashing down around his ears in the first half of 2013 with Duffy’s own behaviour triggering a near total collapse of public confidence in the Senate, which wasn’t at its highest pinnacle to begin with.  Already there are calls for constitutional-based reform which, as anyone even loosely familiar with Canadian politics can plainly see, is a minefield.  Not to mention Québec is under a separatist government at present (led by Pauline Marois); which doesn’t exactly aide the cause of reformed federalism in Canada historically.

Source: “The National”, May 16, 2003 (http://www.cbc.ca/video)

With not just apathy, but anti-Senate sentiment at such a feverish pitch, Harpers plans for the Senate are likely on the backburner for the foreseeable future.  And although Mike Duffy has survived in his Senate seat (so far), it’s doubtful he’ll be able to lead any great charge of the reformists therein anytime soon.  And so, down the drain are the hopes of Harper and by some strange coincidence those of the Canadian people where the Senate is concerned…at least until the political mood in Québec and the rest of the country become a little more certain about what course change in Canada’s upper house of sober second thought should take.

DuffyBuck

Notwithstanding a worsening of the crisis which could well lead us down the path into another hand-wringing round of constitutional frustration.

Conservative Crime & Punishment Agenda Trumps Free Speech

22-Apr-13 02:26 pm EDT Leave a comment

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ews from Mexico of a Canadian woman’s 18-month (formerly indefinite) incarceration without representation by her Canadian government was only one of two items this week illustrating a long-standing pet peeve I have with the Conservatives’ crime & punishment agenda.  Now, the Conservative house-leader (in the Canadian House of Commons) has cancelled debate on a resolution that would have seen more power granted the back benches to speak on behalf of Canadians, and represent their constituents in favour of rushing through debate on a hastily-drafted anti-terrorism bill that seems little more than taking political advantage of the tragedy in Boston.

    Hopefully, my country(wo)men are getting as tired of this as I am!  (That, and the latest attack ads which put the new Liberal Party Leader, Justin Trudeau in the cross-hairs of Conservative pre-election spending.)

Mission Improbable: Analyzing Conservative Justice

22-Apr-13 01:53 pm EDT Leave a comment

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anadians seem to be having a tough time getting their consular representatives to help with problems abroad again….re-enforcing words spoken by (Canada’s) Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau at the convention last weekend.  Once again, the governing Conservatives seem to be abandoning those detained abroad to whatever injustices prevail instead of taking an interest in the outcome of cases where Canadians are detained without having the benefit of a government that will see them returned safely home; whether it be to serve time in a Canadian prison or simply to be exonerated of charges that have no merit.

In this episode of the CBC’s Fifth Estate, a woman who’d committed no crime was charged and held in a Mexican maximum security prison.  Was it her government that came to her aid?  Not bloody likely – it was the Mexican Supreme Court which finally agreed that based on numerous human rights violations during her incarceration her case should be thrown out!

Still, it was a hellish 18-month ordeal involving a heart-attack amongst other health problems resulting from a confinement that was absent a crime.  And nowhere to be seen were Canadian consular officials, perhaps presuming her guilt without so much as a review of the case (or none on record).  Or perhaps there was a review….one that had the stamp of RCMP approval on the word of a convicted felon and known liar.  Political scandal being swept under the carpet?

At least she’s home now – but the questions will, if there still is justice to be found in Canada, continue…

Terry Glavin

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