Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Justin Trudeau's Senate Move... a great political move or amateurish

Harper has been mired in embarrassing scandals concerning his Senators, from Wallin to Duffy to Brazeau. Justin Trudeau has responded with a move that some have called "bold" and "game-changing" by kicking all Liberal Senators out of caucus. I don't think it's "bold" or "game-changing" and it does not show Trudeau to be a Senate reformer.

The supposedly "independent" caucus in the Senate - whom Trudeau did not seem to consult on this move - still call themselves Liberal, have Liberal members as employees, and will still be active members of the Liberal Party. Looks all smoke and mirrors to me.

What can be done about the Senate though? Abolishing it could be a good move - it was done in New Zealand - and is being proposed by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. The provinces abolished their upper-chambers a long time ago.

However, the constitutional hurdles to abolition would be steep. An elected Senate - unless in a disorganized and piecemeal fashion as Harper has proposed - would also require similar constitutional hurdles, and we could potentially face political gridlock from multiple houses, see the United States.

There is growing sentiment that the Senate cannot continue as is - and I don't think Justin Trudeau's proposals amount to much in practice, just political posturing. Abolition seems the best solution, but the road there would be a difficult one.

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