Parliament has spoken and, after six ballots, has elected Andrew Scheer, a 32-year-old Conservative MP, as the new Speaker. He is the youngest Speaker in Canadian history. Scheer was deputy speaker in the last Parliament, assistant deputy speaker in the one before that and does seem to grasp both the procedural angle of the job and the sense of history. But does he have the gravitas and the ability to turn off his partisanship? I guess we’ll have to see. But first? The Speech from the Throne is up today, and I do love the pomp and ceremony of it all.
The NDP has released its list of hoped-for committee chairs and vice-chairs.
On to my favourite topic of debunking Senate-reform proposals. In an odious article in the Calgary Herald, Jason Kenney said that Alberta's having Liberal senators but no Liberal MPs shows that the process is somehow broken. Err, how exactly? Having an appointed body can actually be more representative because it allows Liberals in Alberta, of which there are plenty both provincially and federally, to have some representation in Parliament even if they can’t currently win a seat (which has a lot to do with gerrymandered “rurban” ridings, but that’s another story). Kenney, in his blind, crass, partisan way, would see those Alberta Liberals denied any kind of agency. (Also, his slagging-off of Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy, who is made of awesome, was a real show of klass.) Meanwhile, one of Alberta's Senate seats is likely to open up in December. The province needs to decide what to do with the current batch of “senators-in-waiting,” who were “elected” in a sham process years ago. Their “terms” have since expired, but they will likely be appointed anyway as the province has declined to run a new sham “election” anytime soon. But hey – lip service to Senate “elections!”
A BC MLA is going to introduce a private member’s bill on those sham “Senate nomination elections” in his province. But seriously, guys – trying to bring in an unconstitutional process through the back door is still unconstitutional, and no, it doesn’t matter that Alberta did it first. The only reason it hasn’t been smacked down by the Supreme Court is because it was an empty process that was really about a protest. If the federal government does bring forward its own unconstitutional bill to take up these sham “election” results, we’ll have a very big constitutional problem. And, have I mentioned killing these bills with fire?
Meanwhile, pundits in BC and the Maritimes are trying to clumsily weigh in about whether or not Senate reform would be good for them. One professor says an empowered Senate would be good for the Maritimes because of its lack of influence in the upper chamber (neglecting all the many reasons why the Senate should remain an appointed body), while one pundit in BC says an elected Senate would be bad for the province (strangely calling the province underrepresented in the chamber, which is explicitly built against representation by population). Again, both fall into all the perceived wisdom about how bad the Senate is. Grown-up conversations begin with understanding the institution, everyone.
And speaking of Senator McCoy, who is made of awesome, she blogs today about her wishes for the new Parliament.
Public sector layoffs have begun with curators at the National Gallery and scientists at Environment Canada. So, the arts and science, two things many Conservatives don’t really like, are first on the chopping block. Should we really be surprised?
What’s that? The global war on drugs has failed? You don’t say!
What’s that? Tensions between Alberta and Ottawa? But I thought the West got in?
The CBC has uncovered information that says that, contrary to Stockwell Day’s assurances at the time, information was stolen by Chinese hackers when they breached government data security last year.
And here’s a heartwarming story (well, for people like me) about a young monarchist in Quebec, who thinks that ours is the best system of government (which it is) for all the right reasons.