It was quite the day for the Governor in Council to be making appointments. Eighteen senators plus a Supreme Court of Canada puisine justice – that’s a lot of decisions to scrutinise, and a lot of chances to demonstrate some progressivity. Chances that were largely squandered.
Of the eighteen new senators, a mere five were women, and only one of those a woman of colour, in this case, a Korean-Canadian. For a Chamber that is supposed to be more reflective of the minorities and diversity of this country (and yes, that includes sexual minorities), Harper didn’t take the opportunity presented.
Of the thirteen men appointed, the only one that stands out as not being a middle-aged straight white man is Patrick Brazeau, who was up until this point the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. What is especially interesting is that Brazeau and his organisation – largely made up of off-reserve and urban aboriginals – are known to oppose the Assembly of First Nations in many of their positions on aboriginal issues.
Two CTV broadcast journalists – one current, and one former – were appointed in the form of Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin. While Wallin had previously served on diplomatic appointments made by the Liberals and more recently the Afghanistan panel with John Manley, Duffy has been a fixture on Parliament Hill for a couple of decades. Cynics might even suggest that this appointment is thanks for some of his more ethically questionable tactics during the election (like slagging Elizabeth May in conversation with Peter MacKay, and airing the Dion interview where he asked to restart because of a grammatically nonsensical question).
And while the attention was focused on the new senators and all the talk of pork, hardly anyone batted an eyelash when it came to the appointment of Thomas Cromwell to the Supreme Court. While this is and of itself is not much of an issue – agreement all around seems to be in favour of Cromwell’s credentials – what they are talking about is Harper’s penchant for short-circuiting his own stated processes for appointments. He swore he would only appoint Senators that won (unconstitutional) “consultative elections” in their home provinces. Well, that didn’t exactly work. He also swore to have Parliament involved in consulting on Supreme Court nominations, and that didn’t happen either – first because he shut down the process prematurely for an election, and again when he shut down the process prematurely to prorogue Parliament rather than face a confidence vote. (Notice any pattern there?)
(Incidentally, I’ll offer a shameless plug about my piece on the Xtra.ca national page about Thomas Cromwell).