I’ve learned of some of the names that are on the Prime Minister’s short-list of potential senators. The PM is expected to name 17 or 18 senators within the next 7 days (according to the latest timetable).
In British Columbia, I’ve heard that olympian Nancy Greene is being considered by the PM. A gold-medal-winning skier from the 1968 Grenoble olympics, the Prime Minister would be happy to name a Canadian champion to the senate that would underscore Canada’s role in welcoming the world to the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010. It is not yet known if Greene would accept the appointment.
Also in British Columbia, the Prime Minister is said to be looking at making an aboriginal appointment to the senate. Chief Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos First Nations is said to be a name that is on the PM’s short list. Louie is an aboriginal leader who emphasizes increased self-reliance and a shift in responsibility for the way in which first nations communities deal with the state.
In Prince Edward Island, I’ve heard that the Prime Minister may be looking to a former Premier to sit in the senate. Pat Binns is currently the ambassador to Ireland and so, I’ve heard that the PM will look back further to find a senator. James Lee was the Progressive Conservative Premier from 1981-1986. PM Chretien named former PEI Premier Catherine Callbeck to the Senate in 1997, so now that a Senate seat is open to Harper in PEI, I’ve heard that the PM is considering Lee.
British Columbia (3 seats) – Michael Walker, John Weissenberger, Lorne Mayencourt
Yukon (1 seat) – Leslie Neilson
The appointment of Fabian Manning to the Senate from Newfoundland would send a signal to Premier Danny Williams that if he wants to deal with the federal government, he’ll do it through the man into whose fields he’s been plowing salt for the last few years. Newfoundlanders would respect and admire the cheekiness of that move.
In PEI, Mike Duffy would be a good choice. Duffy’s been a veteran broadcaster and public figure for decades. He’s also the island’s favourite son and would be a good representative in the Red Chamber.
In Nova Scotia, former Premier John Hamm is a stateman for Nova Scotia and is respected by all no matter their partisan stripe. Michael McDonald has been Harper’s point man in Nova Scotia for years serving on National Council and running twice federally and thrice provincially. He also serves as a liason between federal and provincial parties. Stewart McInnes is a fixture in Nova Scotia PC politics. A former Mulroney cabinet minister, McInnes resigned as fundrasier for the PC Party of Nova Scotia just hours ago . Does this mean he’s up for another job?
New Brunswick has an obvious choice in Bernard Lord. The former PC Premier has been integrated on the strategic side of federal politics for some time. Lord was the national co-chair of the 2008 federal campaign and provides a bridge to the Charest side of the conservative family. Current director of CPC operations Doug Finley is a shoo-in for the Senate, in my opinion. Senator David Smith has run campaigns for the Liberals for some time from the Red Chamber so the appointment of Doug Finley would be seen as an acceptable move by the PM.
Quebec presents a challenge to Stephen Harper as the PM has toiled spending the last few years building a fledgling organization in that province. There aren’t too many Conservatives there who have been around for a generation of the modern Conservative movement. Mario Dumont made his exit from Quebec politics this week and may find his return as a senator from Quebec. Dumont has been an ally of the Prime Minister and this would satiate the smaller ADQ elements in Harper’s Quebec machine. William Shatner is a conservative from Montreal and was the first Canadian in space (he did and did so boldly). Shatner would be a nod to Quebec’s arts community and would be noteworthy because in itself! Women will be on the PM’s shortlist for the senate and Quebec author and standard-bearer for the conservative movement in Quebec Tasha Kheiriddin would be a good choice.
In Ontario, senior Conservatives that I’ve spoken to would be surprised if Irving Gerstein was not named to the Senate. Gerstein is the head of the Conservative fund, the fundraising organization for the Conservative Party. Sandra Buckler’s name has also made the short list for Senate. As Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Buckler is and remains a loyalist who fought for the PM in the trenches and pushed the Conservative agenda against the rough grain of the MSM. I would be very happy to see Buckler return to the fold so that she can have the resources to fight even harder as a hard-nosed, no prisoners activist for Conservative cause.
Saskatchewan presents an interesting challenge. The province has committed to hold an election for the Senate next year. Let them. If Harper holds off on appointing a senator and a coalition government swoops in and does this anyway, the damage to those parties in the province would be irreperable. If the Prime Minister does appoint a senator from Saskatchewan, my choice would be Elwin Hermanson, the founder of the Saskatchewan Party.
In British Columbia there are a few people lobbying for a seat, among them is Gurmant Grewal (not gonna happen). Another person’s name I’ve heard passed about has been that of John Reynolds. Likely senators that the PM may appoint include Michael Walker (founder of the Fraser Institute), Lorne Mayencourt (party loyalist) and John Weissenberger (former ministerial chief of staff and founding member of the Reform Party). Weissenberger is the type who would resign immediately to elect a senator if given the chance. Longer shots are former MP Betty Hinton and Conservative national councillor Hamish Marshall.
Yukon territory also has a senate seat free. I’d pick Leslie Neilson because he’s a prominant conservative Canadian from the Yukon and his brother Erik was deputy Prime Minister. Neilson is most famous for the Naked Gun movies and has campaigned for charity for the March of Dimes.
I find it deeply unfortunate and immensely frustrating that the PM has been forced into this position of appointing senators. Ideally, as conservatives, we’d like to have them all elected. The appointment of Senators is a defensive measure by the PM as a coalition government would appoint senators uninterested in senate reform or worse, with separatist sympathies. I would want the PM to secure a pledge from any appointed senator that they would resign and/or stand for election at the earliest opportunity. The appointment of Senators should only be a temporary measure as provinces commit to holding elections.
UPDATE: As some readers point out correctly, Shatner (77) and Neilson (82) are too old (in the constitutional sense) for the senate. The lower age limit is 30 and the upper limit is 75. Could Shatner launch a successful Charter challenge? Or could he slingshot himself around the sun and return to 1986?
So we have a couple of spots open in Quebec and one in the Yukon. Who would you name to the Senate?