Roundup: Legislative hostages

Every few months this story comes around again – that the government misses have a senate that acted more like a rubber stamp than the active revising body that they are. And the government – and Trudeau in particular – will say oh no, we believe in an independent senate, and we want them to do their jobs, unless of course that means amending budget bills, in which case they invent reasons why the Senate isn’t supposed to amend them, because they’re money bills (not true – the Senate is only barred from initiating money bills, not from amending them), and so on. And lo, we have yet another example this past weekend, but this time over the transport bill that is currently in the Senate. But because this is an omnibus bill with several parts to it (which isn’t to say that it’s an illegitimate omnibus bill – these are all aspects dealing with transportation issues), and because the government wouldn’t let it be pulled apart, the easier stuff couldn’t get passed first while they dug into the more challenging parts. But, c’est la vie.

What does bother me, however is this particular snideness that comes from some of the commentariat class over these kinds of issues.

The three senators in this case were Senators Carignan, Mercer, and Lankin. Two of the three, Carignan and Lankin, had previously served in elected office. They’re no more or less unknown than the vast majority of MPs, and “unaccountable” is one of those slippery terms in this case because they exist to hold government to account. They’re also just as much parliamentarians as MPs are, for the record, not simple appointees. Gilmore also has this bizarre notion that the business of accountability – which is the whole point of parliament – is somehow “holding hostage” the work of the elected officials. Last I checked, the point of parliament wasn’t to be a clearing house for the agenda of the government of the day, but rather, to keep it in check. That’s what they’re doing, just as much as judges – you know, also unknown, unaccountable appointees – do.

The one partial point I will grant is the “self-righteous” aspect, because some senators absolutely are. But then again, so are a hell of a lot of MPs. The recent changes to the selection process for senators may have amped up some of that self-righteousness for a few of them, but to date, nobody has actually held any legislation hostage, and the government has backed down when they knew they were in the wrong about it. So really, the process is working the way it’s supposed to, and that’s a good thing.

Good reads:

  • Bardish Chagger admits that the government could have done a better job of communicating small business tax changes. Gosh, you think?
  • Not coincidentally, Bill Morneau has been named The Canadian Press’ “business newsmaker of the year.”
  • The government is still figuring out how their “not acting to harm the Canadian economy” test will work out for the new fighter jet procurement.
  • Some academics and former civil servants talk about what was left out of the Prime Minister’s apology to persecuted LGBT Canadians.
  • The Clerk of the Privy Council says that the focus remains on “stabilizing” the Phoenix pay system, not replacing it as they would likely still have problems.
  • Here is a look at what Mexico is doing in the event of that NAFTA is torn up.
  • While the government looks to make changes to the CPP death benefit, funeral professionals say the proposed flat rate is not sufficient to pay for a funeral.
  • Here is a look at the difficult task of resettling Yazidi refugees in Canada.
  • The site of HMS Terror has been given national historic site protection, like the site of HMS Erebus before it.
  • Here’s a profile of Andrew Scheer and his wife, Jill.
  • Jagmeet Singh says he needs to do more to earn the respect of Canadians, and says he won’t run austerity and will (magically) pay for things by closing tax havens.
  • The NDP are rebooting a provincial party in Quebec, and holding a leadership contest in January.

Odds and ends:

Here is Rosemary Barton’s interview with retired Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Three MPs talk about their love of Star Wars. Bless.

One thought on “Roundup: Legislative hostages

  1. Dale,

    I love your response to Scott Gilmore’s whining. Being married to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, and ” was a Canadian diplomat who began his career in Jakarta,” he should have known about Canada’s constitutional architecture and the ins and outs of the Westminster system of Parliamentary Democracy – Responsible Government form of government.

    Ronald A. McCallum

Comments are closed.