The Conservatives have launched their second barrage of ads this morning along the “Stephane Dion is not a leader” line.
This time, the Tories are focusing on Dion and the Senate and the obstructionist tactics that the Conservatives alledge the Liberals are using there.
NotALeader.ca was also launched today by the Conservatives and it features the blog of Kyoto the dog. Kyoto’s site is sure to be one of best Liberal blogs. The site also features the ads that were released today.
On the main Conservative.ca website, e-cards are featured and you can send your friends a flash animation of the Dion’s Senate tactics.
The ads have been launched to mark the dubious one year anniversary of Senate bill S-4, a bill to reduce the terms of senators to 8 years.
Conservatives, in the ads point out that senators can serve up to 45 years (until the age of 75).
Stephane Dion is on the record supporting limited Senate terms, however, he has been unable to get the bill passed by his own senators for one year now. Is Dion ineffective, or does he really favour the status quo.
Canadians have been interested in democratic reform, not the status quo and they’ve been interested in change for quite some time. The Liberals are obstructing legislation in the unelected, unaccountable Upper Chamber. Are the Liberals more interested in protecting entitlements instead of respecting the desire for reform?
I was in question period yesterday to see a bit of Canadian history unfold.
Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, as part of our campaign promise for democratic reform, our Conservative government put forward Bill C-43, which establishes the national process for consulting Canadians on their preferences for Senate appointment through election. We have recently learned that Senator Dan Hays, who holds the seat from Alberta, will be retiring from the Senate after it rises for the summer.
Could our Prime Minister advise the House, Canadians and Albertans on how he will be filling this vacancy?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): First, Mr. Speaker, let me take the opportunity to congratulate Senator Hays on his long public service, including his role as leader of the opposition and Speaker of the Senate.
We do have Bill C-43 tabled. On the other hand, the province of Alberta did some time ago hold a popular consultation for the filling of a Senate vacancy. When that seat comes due, I will recommend to the Governor General the appointment of Mr. Bert Brown.
This is fantastic news for western populists who have been championing senate reform for the past 20 years.
The resignation of Hays has allowed Harper to accelerate the appointment of an elected senator and to realize an old Reform Party ideal.
Once the process of appointing senators becomes normalized, it will be difficult for Prime Ministers to make unelected appointments.
Senate reform may become a key aspect of this Prime Minister’s legacy, despite the fact that it began with the less than ideal appointment of Michael Fortier.
UPDATE: Yukon urged to follow suit
I’d just like to let everyone in on another reason why I am a conservative. I am a strong believer in senate reform. This upper house of Canadian government has power over the lower House of Commons to reject and modify its legislation. This might seem like a reasonable additional level of scrutiny for the laws of the land yet it is wholly unreasonable because this upper house is entirely unelected. Furthermore, a lot of legislation isn’t rejected; the senate is most often merely a big rubber stamp. It is the prime minister’s duty to appoint senators and thus senators are effectively the puppets of the prime minister and his predecessors. Worse, we’ve had one party in power for about 75 of the last 100 years: the Liberal party. So, the Liberal prime minister gets to appoint his Liberal friends to keep the elected house of Commons/Commoners in check. Thus the big red rubber stamp (a stamp without credibility) approves the laws determined by elected official of the House of Commons.
Over the years, there have also been scandals regarding the attendance of these non-elected legislative members of senate. However, the government of Canada reassures us that senators get penalized $250 per absent day that the senate was sitting. In the year 2000, the senators sat for 61 days. So, if a senator had decided to take the year off his pay would have been docked $15,250. This figure may be large to some but consider that senators get paid $114,200. This leaves our senator with a cool $98,950 (assuming he didn’t attend a single sitting).
The latest senator was appointed by Jean Chrétien on the day before he handed over control to Paul Martin. The new senator is Jim Munson, a former CTV reporter who worked for Jean Chrétien for a mere 16 months before getting the $114,200/year job guarenteen for the next 18 years. Roger Smith should be so lucky.
We need senate reform. We should elect our senators so that they are accountable to the people. Election would lend credibility to these parliamentarians and it would allow a true check on government. Each province should elect an equal number of senators. In our confederacy, each region is equally important. Western alienation has been a key complaint against the Liberal government and thus equal representation of each province would do wonders to eliminate this neglect of the West. Currently, Paul Martin gets input from the provinces in a non-binding annual meeting of premiers… at football games, no less. Here the premiers can complain to Paul Martin and he has the choice of listening or ignoring these leaders. Forget this meeting of Canada’s premiers over beer, wings and football. Send elected senators to Ottawa to give each province equal influence. Finally, the senate should be effective. The senate will attain this effectiveness if it is not merely the PM’s rubber stamp on legislation.