Politics of Canada
2 min

Those horrible Senate bagmen

It should not have been wholly unexpected that Jack Layton would come out to deliver an anti-Senate screed when asked, as he did yesterday when he was invited to speak at a conference on parliamentary procedure. And lately he’s tried to add a couple of extras when it comes to his laundry list of grievances. This time, it’s those horrible partisan fundraisers appointed to the Upper Chamber.

Here’s the thing – not all political fundraising is evil. It’s the lifeblood of politics. And those fundraisers are probably fairly tuned into their party’s base, considering that’s where much of their donations are coming from. Add to that, some of these fundraisers are the people who make sure that the candidates can actually go on to win elections – they’re just as much a part of the political process, so their inclusion in the Senate is not that bad of an offence. I’m just saying.

Layton also takes issue with all of those “failed candidates” that get appointed. The funny thing about the Senate is that it can be a place where people who want to make a contribution to public life can go when events conspire against them. For example, Liberals in Alberta, or Conservatives from Toronto or Newfoundland and Labrador. They have a great deal of difficulty getting elected, but the parties still have a base of support in the province, so ensuring that they are represented in the Senate goes some way to ensuring their voices are heard. (And no, this isn’t an invitation to a debate on proportional representation.)

The system is not really broken. Yes, there is a problem if Harper has appointed his backroom people to the Senate for the sole purpose of giving them a Senate paycheque while they spend their time working for the party. But they are in the minority in the Upper Chamber, where a lot of good work does get done. But Layton is more interested in throwing babies out with bathwater, as the saying goes, than he is in actually Making Parliamentary Democracy Work™ it would seem.

Elsewhere, the pre-election talk over corporate tax cuts seems to be ramping up, as the Conservatives send out MPs and ministers across the country to tour the job-creating magic of said corporate tax cuts, while the Liberals adjust their talking points slightly to say not only roll back the tax cuts, but help the “real job creators” (being small and medium-sized businesses) by not increasing EI premiums as the government is planning (dubbing those “job-killing payroll taxes”). The NDP’s finance critic, Thomas Mulcair, is also hinting that he wouldn’t recommend supporting a budget that continued the corporate tax cuts (even though they were actually voted on several years ago and are already in place, so they wouldn’t actually be part of this year’s budget legislation).

And the Bloc? They’ll support the budget – for five billion dollars [insert Dr Evil pinky gesture here]. They’ve provided a helpful list of fiscal grievances going back to the 1998 ice storm they want addressed. But I’m forced to wonder – will they settle for a new arena for Quebec City?

And finally, Peter MacKay apparently needs geography lessons, as he apparently believes that BC shares a border with California. Yeah, this is going to make for some very good material come question period next week.

Up today – it’s the NDP’s turn to meet in Ottawa for a “strategy session” for the winter sitting of the House.
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