Senate appointments expected today

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce 18 appointments to the Senate today.  A lot of the Ottawa-based media is either on break or anticipating to knock off for a few days for the Christmas holiday.  However, for those that are compelled to pay attention, a list of the appointments is expected around noon today before the Prime Minister flies off to Calgary for an event this afternoon.  Further, the Prime Minister’s press office was telling a few reporters last week that they expect the appointments to be made today.

This represents an unfortunate departure from the principle of an elected senate to make way for the growing urgency and practical necessity of addressing the uncertain balance of power within parliament – one that is within the Prime Minister’s constitutional right to address (or at least his right to make suggested picks to the Governor General).  Many Ottawa observers will note that the Prime Minister has held off on this decision until the 11th hour, until necessary pragmatism eclipsed principle on the issue of the unelected senate.  While the senate remains in its current form, the Prime Minister is making a defensive move to prevent an unelected coalition government from appointing 18 senators whenever they have the opportunity to flip the government by their procedural whim.

A raft of partisan appointments is expected today.  A top-of-mind criteria for the PM on senate appointments will be loyal.  The PM wants senators that will sit as partisans of a Conservative caucus and partisans that will work to execute the PM’s plan for senate reform.  In fact, every senator appointed today should commit to the following principles (and publicly):

1. The appointed senator should be prepared to run or resign their seat at the earliest opportunity when an election for senate is held in their home provice.

2. The senator should use the maximum resources available of their office to fight for senate reform and should act as ambassadors of senate reform in their home province.

Some believe that the Prime Minister will make a bi-partisan pick for the Senate, or make a move to reach across the aisle to appoint someone who is non-traditionally aligned like David Suzuki.  I don’t believe that this will happen.  Though Paul Martin appointed Conservative senator Hugh Segal, the majority balance of the senate was not in question at the time or in the near future.  Further, because of the urgency of these appointments, some breathing room is expected for the Prime Minister and gallery barbs will be focused on the size and timing of this set of senate appointments.

On the makeup of the PM’s picks, a few insiders that I have spoken to in a some provinces getting new senators today have said that the Prime Minister’s office has called and asked for suggestions for women and aboriginal senators.

One province where the PMO has not sought outside advice has been Ontario.  PMO appointments zipped up Ontario early and did not seek additional advice or vetting on picks for that province.  Everyone expects Irving Gerstein to get one of the two senate nods in Ontario.

My pick for Saskatchewan is Elwin Hermanson, the founder of the Saskatchewan Party.  However, informed speculation suggests that Barry Firby could be on the PM’s short list.  Firby is the Conservative Party’s regional organizer in that province.

New names that I’m hearing for Quebec include Patrick Brazeau and Myriam Taschereau.  Brazeau is the chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Taschereau was a candidate for the Conservatives in Quebec City during the last election.  Brazeau would represent a non-partisan but ideologically-aligned pick for Prime Minister Harper.

In PEI, I’m hearing speculation that the Prime Minister may lean towards Patricia Mella, the former leader of the PC Party in that province.

If the PM does appoint new senators today, I’ll have the list up and we’ll see if we can digest his picks together.

Comments

comments

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    Expensing a pack of gum != duty to fill senate vacancies.

    Though I guess you still had that buzz phrase rattling around in your head and it was the first thing to come to mind.

    Quick, find a way to say “choose your Canada” or “richer, fairer, greener”.

  • http://maxwell-devin.blogspot.com Devin Maxwell

    This represents an unfortunate departure from the principle of an elected senate to the growing practical urgency of addressing the uncertain balance of power within parliament – one that is within the Prime Minister’s constitutional right to address (or at least suggest to the Governor General).

    Are you saying that the PM is entitled to his entitlements?

  • Alberta Girl

    I guess I would ask Devin two questions

    1. Are you for or against an elected Senate? If against – you have no right to question his appointments – if for – go to #2

    2. Will you lobby your provincial government and your MP to champion an elected senate?

  • http://maxwell-devin.blogspot.com Devin Maxwell

    AG:

    I do not support an elected Senate. As such, I have not, and will not, criticize the PM's authority to appoint Senators because he is entitled to his entitlements. What I will criticize is a PM who has said he will never appoint Senators and a PM who appoints Senators in a strictly partisan manner.

    Stephen:

    You miss my point (not surprising)… Harper is entitled to his entitlements in exactly the same way David Dingwall was. Its only an entitlement if you are entitled to it. Otherwise its…well, something else.

  • KR

    The death of Reform.

  • Chris Chapman

    “Though Paul Martin appointed Conservative senator Hugh Segal, the majority balance of the senate was not in question at the time or in the near future. “

    Huge Beagle is about as “conservative” as Paul Martin – ie. not much at all… Pretty safe bet that good old Hugh would just as much toe the Liberal line as any other.

  • aa

    Wah wah wah the liberals made Harper do it. Harper has said for 20 years he would not appoint senators. Those mean liberals made him do it. He didn't want to but those liberals…wah wah

    HARPER HAS NO SPINE. You tell me what he stands for.

    BTW, larding up the senate with CON pork when parlaiment is prorogued (to avoid the non-confidence motion he would have lost) is disgusting politics.

  • Gord

    This is the PM who said “I was elected PM, no one chose the coalition”. The last time we were asked about the reform party's EEE senate in the Charlottetown referendum, Canadians voted “NO”. But Harper and the conservatives don't care what Canadians say. They don't tell Canadians that if the House passes the stupid “senate reform” bill, that the PM will still be free to appoint who he wants to – just like Harper did in ignoring the “fixed-elections” bill. The Conservatives don't tell Canadians that if Quebec votes for senators like like Alberta does, Quebec would be represented by 24 Bloc Quebecois senators. And all of this is supposedly to appease the old reform vote in the west, while the west will continue to be hugely under-represented in the senate.

    Way to go Conservatives!

    Given my objections to the phony reform proposals, I really can't get too excited one way or the other about the appointments. So their job is to sell us the government's reform proposals. This is so appropriate. Obviously they are not there to represent us in Ottawa, they are to there to represent Harper in BC and wherever.

  • Gord

    Harper has 18 more emmisaries to represent Harper to us peons. To tell us what the government's position is on senate reform – not to listen to what the people want as far as reform of this archaic institution. Of course, the government asked us if we wanted a EEE senate and we VOTED NO in the Charlottetown Referendum.

    This may be an rotten bone tossed to baying hounds from the old Reform Party but it is ironically the west that loses the most in Harper's “senate reform” proposals. Because we continue with our ridiculous under-representation. How can it be more democratic when BC has 6 senators and New Brunswick has 10?

  • bec

    http://www.defendourdemocracy.ca/

    Check it out Stephen. Un flippin' believable! No planned coalition, huh? These guys are scary!

    Her latest post about Mike Duffy is easy to access.

  • http://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com Rob H.

    Stephen – I know that we’re all in he midst of a tizzy over this senate situation (though I wish that Harper had done something more clearly non-partisan..) I have thrown down a challenge to bloggers and readers to actually step up and ACTUALLY do something to make a difference.. so, support team blue and help your neighbor this Christmas season.. Here’s the challenge.

  • http://searchingforliberty.blogspot.com Rob H.

    Stephen – I know that we’re all in he midst of a tizzy over this senate situation (though I wish that Harper had done something more clearly non-partisan..) I have thrown down a challenge to bloggers and readers to actually step up and ACTUALLY do something to make a difference.. so, support team blue and help your neighbor this Christmas season.. Here’s the challenge.

  • Ronald

    PM Harper don't need to sweat the little things (Libs and Dippers) are a breed onto themselves's. I, I, I, I, I, I. Just ask them. Projected hopefuls for a feeding at the trough must be painful to face as reality sinks in that the gravy train is no longer in service. Just another day at Liberal/NDP central. Sad!

  • Phil Hauser

    Stephen, Can you or anyone help me with some math here?

    105 senate seats right?

    58 current libs
    20 current conservatives
    18 new appointments

    96 total senators?

    What gives with the other 9? Or am I missing something?

  • http://maxwell-devin.blogspot.com Devin Maxwell

    Phil:

    There are several Senators who sit as independents, NDP or Progressive Conservatives…

  • http://maxwell-devin.blogspot.com Devin Maxwell

    Phil:

    There are several Senators who sit as independents, NDP or Progressive Conservatives…