There will be a court challenge from Quebec.
Quebec Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau told The Globe and Mail Monday that the federal government’s plans to introduce legislation in June that would set fixed terms for senators and enable provincial governments to hold elections for senators when a seat becomes available would be unconstitutional without provincial consent. Many provinces, Quebec especially, are concerned that elected senators would usurp provincial governments as the foremost representatives of their citizens.
“If legislation is introduced, one of the things we will do is challenge the bill before the Court of Appeal and eventually the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.
Similar Conservative legislation in the past has been stymied by the opposition parties. But now that the Conservatives enjoy majorities in both Houses of Parliament, they expect to turn legislation into law by the end of the year.
While placing term limits on senators appears to have broad support – that limit could be anywhere between eight and 12 years in the new bill – electing senators is fraught with legal and practical difficulties, according to David E. Smith, a political scientist at University of Saskatchewan who is one of Canada’s authorities on the Senate.
Even if the federal government has the authority to permit elected senators, he observed, each province would probably enact its own rules for such elections, if deciding to act at all. …
But whatever the provincial concerns, Prof. Smith believes that the Conservative legislation might nonetheless attract broad public support.
“If there’s any agreement on the Senate, it’s that people are not happy with an appointed Senate,” he observed. “People don’t like it. It doesn’t have a democratic base. This would be a step to meet that objection. And it would be a big step.”
And the cat is among the pigeons.
But now, I suppose I’m quoting the last Canadian prime minister who was any good at this game.
His name? Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
Update again: Angus Reid polled this last year.
From their press release:
In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,001 Canadian adults, three-in-ten respondents (29%) believe that Parliament could function without a Senate. Almost half of Canadians (44%) say the Senate is necessary, but Canadians should take an active role in the process of choosing who gets to seat on it. Only six per cent of respondents are pleased with the status-quo that calls for appointed senators. …
A solid majority of respondents (69%) are in favour of holding a nationwide referendum on the future of the Senate.
Out of several proposals that have been tabled regarding Senate reform, most Canadians endorse allowing citizens to choose senators in direct elections (67%), and limiting the terms of appointed senators to eight years (65%). …
Support for an outright abolition of the Senate is noticeably high in Quebec (48%) and Atlantic Canada (44%). A quarter of people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (24%) are also on board with this idea, while less than a fifth of respondents elsewhere agree. …
Since January 2008, at least three-in-five respondents have consistently voiced support for allowing Canadians to directly elect their senators and limiting appointed Canadian senators to eight-year terms.
The Prime Minister has public opinion on his side.
Final update: So what I’m saying is, I think this isn’t like Meech Lake or Charlottetown, if it comes down to it.
This looks to me much more like 1981, with Stephen Harper playing Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
For instance: watch to see Harper threaten to go over premiers’ heads and hold a national referendum on Senate reform.
Post-scriptum: Ontario’s parties divide –
“We think the simplest thing to do is abolish it, and I think, frankly, to reform it in any substantive way is just not possible,” Mr. McGuinty said after touring a Chrysler factory in Brampton, Ont. “Based on my discussions with other premiers, based on the formula that’s in place in order to ensure that there is reform, it’s not going to happen.” …
“It’s interesting that the McGuinty Liberals are finally saying what New Democrats have been saying for a long time, which is it’s time to abolish the Senate,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said. “Let’s face it, the senators are a bunch of Liberals and Conservatives that are sitting around for lots and lots of money and not doing very much and we really do need to get rid of that upper chamber.”
However, the Progressive Conservatives, who lead the public opinion polls with an Ontario election just over four months away, said the reality is Canada has a Senate and senators should be elected, not appointed.
“The premier’s position is simply a dodge. He wants to avoid the question,” Opposition Leader Tim Hudak said. “The Senate’s not going to be abolished, I don’t see the provinces agreeing to that, so as long as we do have a Senate, I believe that Ontario should directly elect its senators.
So in Ontario, if you want to push for Senate abolition, go with McGuinty or Horvath; if you want to push for an elected Senate, go with Hudak.
Dion is back?
OTTAWA | Le chef du NPD, Jack Layton, doit démasquer les souverainistes qui semblent se cacher au sein de son parti, estime le père de la Loi sur la clarté, Stéphane Dion. …
« Il (M. Layton) doit demander à chacun de ses députés qu’ils croient dans le Canada. Et, si ce n’est pas le cas, il doit dire : ‘’J’ai tant de députés qui sont des indépendantistes et qui voteraient Oui à un référendum sur l’indépendance.‘’ Il doit nous dire ce qu’il ferait », a fait valoir M. Dion en entrevue avec le Journal de Québec.
Il y deux semaines, au moins deux des 59 députés néo-démocrates du Québec ont admis ne pas savoir pour quelle option politique ils voteraient advenant la tenue d’un référendum sur la souveraineté.
« Est-ce qu’on peut être indépendantiste et être député du NPD? », se questionne M. Dion. …
« Quelqu’un qui se cache derrière une façade fédéraliste mais qui est indépendantiste (…) ça, je n’ai pas de respect pour cela et personne ne devrait en avoir y compris M. Layton », est d’avis le député libéral. Ce dernier dit en revanche avoir du « respect » pour les gens qui se déclarent indépendantistes, mentionnant au passage l’ex-chef du Bloc québécois, Gilles Duceppe.
Well, that’s how Dion made his name in Canadian politics — fighting separatism.
As I’ve said below, I think that the national question is the only one on which there is a truly distinct Liberal position. On economic issues, on foreign policy, on all that — some Liberals think like NDPers, some think like Conservatives.
Where do I stand? Well, I’m a bit more of a provincialist on actual government programs. I don’t like having the federal government bigfooting all these initiatives, and I think the provinces should raise their own damn money and take responsibility for raising their own taxes if they want to build their socialist utopias. And I think that when the federal government spends its time messing around in areas of provincial jurisdiction, it neglects what it’s actually supposed to do and stirs up ill-will.
But there’s an intrinsic appeal to the Liberals’ historic position on these issues to me, as an English Canadian and a federalist.
Note to Mr. Harper — you’ve given speeches before about how the most stable governing coalitions in Canada include Quebec’s federalist voters. As you move to re-build in Quebec and to win your second majority, you might want to target your efforts accordingly. That is, the party whose lunch you should aim at eating, in Quebec, is the Liberal Party.
Update again: Oh dear.
Harper’s lucky that his misadventures on culture cost him nationalist votes in 2008. A Tory majority based on Quebec could well have imploded quickly, like Diefenbaker’s single majority.
Aim for 15-20 federalist and economically libertarian seats in Quebec — that’s something to add to a stable national governing coalition.
Update the fourth: That being said, what should Layton (and Mulcair) do?
Probably exactly what they’ve done. It makes sense that the “progressive” option in Canada should have a big Quebec component, and frankly, they can’t ignore what that segment of Quebec wants. Not if they want to keep their seats.
Update the fifth: And Claude Morin, Rene Levesque’s old intergovernmental affairs minister, says to “take the NDP at their word” and asks for sovereignty-association.
WASHINGTON — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will travel to Iowa next month as part of her nationwide bus tour, two sources with direct knowledge of the plan told RealClearPolitics.
Palin’s trip to the nation’s first voting state — where she has not yet set foot this year –will further escalate the already feverish speculation that she is leaning toward a White House run.
Though Palin has insisted that her “One Nation” bus tour — being kicked off from Washington over the holiday weekend — is intended merely to “highlight America’s foundation,” RCP has learned that the road trip was designed as a test run to find out whether she can execute a decidedly unconventional campaign game plan.
Palin — and especially her husband, Todd — is said to be leaning toward running. But multiple sources said that their foremost remaining concern was whether it would be logistically feasible for their large family to hit the road together for the next several months in a prospective campaign that would rely heavily on bus travel.
The answer to that question will play a critical role in how the 2012 race develops. …
A political Merry Prankster, Palin clearly relishes her unique ability to confound and surprise her prospective opponents, as she test-drives a possible presidential run that she and her team — with a discernible wink — have publicly billed as something akin to a mere sightseeing trip.
So, 2012 — which I still expect (alas!) to be an easy Obama re-elect — may be fun yet!
That’s what we see in the press now.
Page 10 of the detailed survey report says that 41% would vote Yes in a referendum, 59% No. And francophones split evenly, 50% Yes, 50% No.
Better than ’95, anyway…
The answers (no, no, no and no) are evident in Harris-Decima results for The Canadian Press since the election. Over the last two weeks (a total sample of 2,000, all data gathered before the Liberals chose Bob Rae as interim leader) here is what we see:
» The Conservative Party is polling at 38 per cent, down slightly from 39.6 per cent on Election Day.
» The NDP finds 33 per cent support, compared to 30.6 per cent on Election Day.
» The Liberal Party is at 15 per cent, down from an 18.9 per cent result.
» The Bloc is at 22 per cent in Quebec; 23.4 per cent was their total on May 2. …
» In the latest week results, the NDP are running at a new high of 49 per cent in Quebec. If all the coverage of so-called Vegas MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau was going to rattle Quebec voters, there’s no evidence that happened. If anything, Quebeckers seem pretty enthused with the sense of freshness of their representation in Ottawa.
» In Ontario, the NDP is at 32 per cent, seven points behind the Conservative Party, with the Liberals dropping to 19 per cent, six points below their result on election night.
» Among female voters, the NDP leads at 37 per cent nationally, compared to 33 per cent for the Conservatives, and a stunning 16 per cent for the Liberal Party.
» Among men, the Conservatives are at 42 per cent, the NDP at 30 per cent and the Liberals at a record low of 14%.
I’m glad we got our majority, fellow Tories. Aren’t you?
It’s good to see that our support is resilient — once you vote for Harper, you stick with Harper. But those NDP numbers in Ontario — wow.
Yes, Liberals, I think all you’ve got left in your kit-bag is old-style Trudeauvian federalism — the NDP can’t follow you there, and you would have a base to win and then work out from.
So, um, in light of this delicious tidbit of Canadian history — viz., that basically our national survival and our possession of a (albeit somewhat flawed) patriated constitution depended entirely on two Quebec separatists messing up in December 1979 a point of parliamentary strategy that a two-year-old could figure out…
Demain Nous Appartient, suckers!
Just watched “Champions“.
There’s one amazing point made at the 21:45 mark of Part III, which covers the 1980 referendum and the patriation debates.
There was a desperate phone call made from Ottawa to Quebec City on the evening of December 13, 1979, by Fabien Roy (leader of the Creditistes) to the Quebec government. Claude Morin, who would normally have taken the call, was away in Africa, and so Daniel Latouche, a political science professor manning his office, took the call.
Roy, who owed the PQ a few favours, begged for advice on how to vote on Clark’s budget.
Latouche and the people in his office had no idea what to say. So they said nothing.
A single word from them would have tipped the balance.
Roy, confused, ordered his six-member caucus to abstain.
Clark’s budget lost by six votes.
On that mess-up — for of course the PQ wanted “Joe Who” in place as Prime Minister of Canada during their spring referendum, and not Pierre Elliott Trudeau — the last thirty years of Canadian history hangs.
I never knew. It doesn’t get mentioned in the histories I’ve read.
Why? Well, I think people are uncomfortable thinking of how everything — the referendum campaign, the patriation of the constitution with the Charter, NEP, Mulroneyism/Meech Lake, the possible destruction of the Liberal Party of Canada now in 2011 — it ALL comes down to Latouche and Roy f*cking up an elementary point of parliamentary strategy between them.
I should say that the secular among us are uncomfortable thinking about it; for the religious among us, I suppose, would chalk it up to divine intervention.
Update, next day: How much of a difference did Pierre Trudeau make as PM at the time? Well, the Yes side had a 47-43 lead at the start of the campaign.
I don’t agree with the man on a lot of things, but it’s awfully interesting seeing a former Clerk of the Privy Council blogging.
Himelfarb, keep in mind, is a lefty. But he writes in paragraphs, and has something to say.
From the CBC in 1978 — Peter Kent hosts a special on Prime Minister Trudeau’s constitutional proposals.
Notice how much more substantive the discourse was then.
That’s the only explanation that covers this:
Rookie PC candidate George Lepp says he’s embarrassed that a photo of his family jewels was posted on his campaign twitter account for about 20 minutes before it was quickly unzipped.
Alan Sakach, communications director for the Ontario Conservatives, said the photo was inadvertently taken by Lepp’s BlackBerry when it was in his front pocket. The photo was posted after someone took it from the candidate for the riding of Niagara Falls, according to Sakach.
“He is pretty upset and embarrassed,” Sakach said of a photo that was posted on Lepp’s account Sunday. “It was removed as soon as it came to his attention.”
The Toronto Sun obtained grainy copies of the twitter page images before they were removed.
The pictures — too graphic to reproduce in the newspaper — are of a man naked from the waist down, showing a close up of his penis and his crossed legs.
And that’s possibly the only explanation I’ve seen that is worse than Anthony Weiner’s.