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Stephen Harper appoints a priest and a former football comissioner to the canadian senate
December 20, 2010 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Stephen Harper once referred to the Canadian Senate as a "dumping ground for liberal cronies". He has now appointed his 36th senator, more than double the number of appointments by his predecessor, Paul Martin. Of further interest is that while 5/17 of Martin's appointments were members of the opposition party all 36 of Stephen Harpers appointments were directly affiliated with the conservative party. His most recent appointments? A Priest and a former CFL Comissioner
posted by sarastro (35 comments total)

 
That's because, as usual Mr. Harper's rhetoric bears little resemblance to his actual behavior, he is an insular control freak uninterested in the actual struggles of Canadians.

Much like most politicians.

Of course, it could be a situation like Bill Hicks described, you know, the new leader is taken into a room and shown the Kennedy Assassination from the POV of both the third and fourt shooters....(embellished for effect)

However in this case, it's some really scalding poutine.
posted by NiteMayr at 12:48 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


How does this compare with earlier senate-dumping by other PMs?

Harper has no sense of irony, so he wouldn't notice the difference between what he said before and what he does now.

How many of these new senators would even be in their chairs for votes, anyway? Have we cracked 50% attendance for bill readings and voting this past decade? (Especially in the winter months, when so many seem to have semi-permanent digs in Florida?
posted by clvrmnky at 12:50 PM on December 20, 2010


How does this compare with earlier senate-dumping by other PMs?

The second link has all the information you need.

The trouble isn't so much that Harper appoints Conservatives (Martin was an anomaly in appointing significant numbers of opposition members), but that the senate Conservatives are taking their orders from Harper and working in ways that the senate has not for a very long time (e.g. killing the climate change bill).
posted by ssg at 12:58 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Canada: We're all George W. Bush's America now.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:00 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by auto-correct at 1:04 PM on December 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


i thought you guys had like a parliament or something
posted by Eideteker at 1:06 PM on December 20, 2010


In other Senate news: drug mandatory minimums.
posted by HLD at 1:12 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Inexplicable how this guy runs a country.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:12 PM on December 20, 2010


as usual Mr. Harper's rhetoric bears little resemblance to his actual behavior, he is an insular control freak uninterested in the actual struggles of Canadians

What? Sorry, I can't hear you my PM is rocking out. This guy is AWESOME! PLAY SOME SKYNRD, MAN!

Seriously though, it was like watching someone's dad do karaoke.
posted by Hoopo at 1:13 PM on December 20, 2010


We have an elected House of Commons (like the Brits) and an unelected Senate instead of an unelected House of Lords. I never thought I'd favour the inbred over the sock puppets, but there you go.
posted by maudlin at 1:13 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


i thought you guys had like a parliament or something

The Senate is part of the Parliament - we have a Senate, a Monarch (represented by the Governor General) and a House of Commons.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:14 PM on December 20, 2010


He criticized the "dumping ground for liberal cronies" because he wanted it to be a dumping ground for conservative cronies. Just remember this rule of thumb for right-wing rhetoric in any nation: every time they criticize liberals for something they didn't really do, it's because THEY ARE DOING IT.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:16 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


i thought you guys had like a parliament or something

I know this might be a joke, but some context for Americans:

Our lower house of parliament, the House of Commons, is elected, and the PM comes from the majority party. Senators are appointed for life by the Governor General on the recommendation of the PM.

People have talked about abolishing the Senate, or at least making it elected, for years. But no one really cared all that much, because it essentially just rubber-stamped all the laws passed by the lower house. Sometimes it would form committees to investigate topics, but it never really exercised any power. I'm young, so someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember the Senate ever vetoing a major bill during the Cretien/Martin years.

Anyways, Harper talked a big talk about reforming the Senate, but he's been appointing hard right Senators left right and centre since he was elected. And not only that, but the Senate recently vetoed a major climate change bill passed by the 3 opposition parties in the House.

So, lots of people are kind of pissed.
posted by auto-correct at 1:17 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've resisted jumping to melodramatic conclusions, but as the months -- and years -- go by, I see Harper turning Canada more-and-more into something different from the country I love. Harper's current meddling is only one of a number of things that tells me the whole notion of the Senate needs to be reviewed. There are deeper issues than the PM pissing in the pool, as it were.

To echo the sentiments of previous poster; it's not as bad as most think, since attending senate meetings seems to be more of a joke than an obligation. "The house of sobre, second thought" my ass; more like the "cash for life, and a lax schedule".
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2010


Harper's current meddling is only one of a number of things that tells me the whole notion of the Senate needs to be reviewed. There are deeper issues than the PM pissing in the pool, as it were.

My initial thoughts were that Harper's pissing in the pool was intended to get the Liberals on board with his Senate reform plan by making a joke of it and showing how it could be exploited. But of course that means he's willing to make really poor, irresponsible decisions that have negative consequences for our entire democracy in order to prove a point. Which of course is just inconceivable hamburger.
posted by Hoopo at 1:30 PM on December 20, 2010


"Senators are appointed for life"

ah, k. so same as here, really
posted by Eideteker at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are deeper issues than the PM pissing in the pool, as it were.

Precisely. Harper's exploiting a loophole that has been previously protected by tradition; tradition being a rather poor safeguard against manipulation. There needs to be some reform.

The other issue also driven by tradition is the lame-duck mentality of the Governor General. Michelle Jean, despite her insistence that she considered proroguing Parliament on her own, was just a Harper puppet. Looks like the same can be said with the new dude.

The GG has ample reason these days to grow a pair and stand up to Harper. But, that's not going to happen for a variety of reasons.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:40 PM on December 20, 2010


Don Meredith is a Pentecostal clergyman, not a priest.

Since Father Drinan's service in the U.S. Congress, the Vatican has increasingly resisted allowing priests to sit in legislatures. The 1983 Code of Canon Law contained a prohibition on priests exercising civil offices: "Can. 285 ยง3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power."

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was floated as a possible candidate for the Lords in Britain after he retired as Archbishop of Westminister, but turned down the honor.
posted by Jahaza at 2:02 PM on December 20, 2010


What can you do? The majority of Canadians voted for him.
posted by monkeymike at 2:50 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harper manipulating political processes to his own ends?

Fish gotta swim, bird gotta fly.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:56 PM on December 20, 2010


Haha, monkeymike, I sincerely hope that was a joke. Stephen Harper has a minority government. In the 2008 federal election he won with only 37% of the popular vote.
posted by sarastro at 2:57 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jahaza, you're right and I apologize. I was using "priest" in the vague sense of "religious professional" instead of specifically pertaining to catholicism. I consider it somewhat equivalent to referring to all types of facial tissue as "Kleenex"
posted by sarastro at 3:00 PM on December 20, 2010


I remain less concerned about appointments to an irrelevant body than I do entire suspensions of Parliament.

Both are antidemocratic power grabs, of course, and maybe there's not all that much difference when it comes down to it, but at least the Senate is largely benign, and keeps old party hands away from other places where they could actually do damage.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:18 PM on December 20, 2010


[...] at least the Senate is largely benign, and keeps old party hands away from other places where they could actually do damage.

Are you sure about that?

Conservative senators used a procedural tactic Tuesday night to scrap the bill, adopted in the Commons last spring in a vote of 149 to 136, without allowing it to be examined in Senate hearings or debated in the Senate chamber.
posted by auto-correct at 3:26 PM on December 20, 2010


Senators are appointed for life

Autocorrect is (ironically) mistaken. This was the case until 45 years ago, but since then, Senators have "expired" on their 75th birthday.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2010


I really would not be surprised to find that, like the Swedish PM, Harper is being advised by Karl Rove.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:46 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you sure about that?

I would agree with you were it not the case that the Commons passes bills and motions that the Conservative Government simply ignores anyway. I have no doubt the environmental bill would have been treated the same way were it passed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:50 PM on December 20, 2010


What can you do? The majority of Canadians voted for him.

What? A majority of voters in his riding voted for him. A majority of voters in Canada voted against him and his band of troglodytes.

The problem is, the rational faction is too split to get rid of him.
posted by klanawa at 4:42 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Autocorrect is (ironically) mistaken. This was the case until 45 years ago, but since then, Senators have "expired" on their 75th birthday.

You're right, of course. Nothing ironic about it though, more of an "as usual" situation :P
posted by auto-correct at 4:48 PM on December 20, 2010


Boy, at least Preston Manning would have been kinda funny, eh?
posted by stinkycheese at 6:31 PM on December 20, 2010


There was a remark in one of the Globe & Mail articles today about how Harper is more concerned about winning elections and senate votes than he is about governing. Hence the stacking of the Senate.

Like Dark Messiah says above, this is looking less and less like the Canada I grew up in. I think the Conservatives are throwing away a big chunk of our social and intellectual capital to foist their ill-conceived ideologies on the Canadian public. No offense to our American friends, but making Canada into a mini version of George Bush's US is just stupid.
posted by sneebler at 8:08 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Preston Manning would have been a whole heck of a lot better than Harper. I'm way over on the over side of the political spectrum, but the guy seems reasonably intelligent and probably is somewhat principled.
posted by ssg at 9:06 PM on December 20, 2010


I guess some Canadians crowed too long and too hard about poor libruls in the US under Dubya, along the lines of "we are so much better off here", and now karmic revenge is upon us. It's the only way I can rationalize this absolute poison of a PM still being in power, and if the polls are accurate, as likely to stay there in the next election as not. I try to be mostly apathetic about politics, but this asshole just makes me seethe.
posted by birdsquared at 9:07 PM on December 20, 2010


I heard Stephen Harper can't get an erection without killing a dog.

...just something I picked up somewhere...
posted by sarastro at 9:19 PM on December 20, 2010


Nothing ironic about it though

Sorry, should have depended on the old MeFi term eponysterical
posted by Neiltupper at 12:24 AM on December 22, 2010


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