Senate Reform: Thomas Mulcair Picks the Wrong Issue, at the Wrong Time, Probably for the Wrong Reason.

August 14, 2013 in Canada, Politics by Justin Beach

Mulcair

Thomas Mulcair is definitely not Jack Layton. With jobs, the economy, affordable housing and other fundamental issues weighing on the minds of Canadians, the NDP leader is taking to the road to rally support for an issue that is more important to Mulcair and his party than it is to most voters. To be sure the senate is in need of a fix, but not abolition. There are too few checks on the power of the PMO as it is and the Senate is not front-of-mind for people who are trying to put food on the table.

The NDP’s desire to abolish the Senate now is not about the priorities of Canadians it is a pure power grab. There is every chance that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives will lose the next election. If Mulcair should find himself in the PMO’s chair his power will be greatly diminished by a Senate that dominated by Liberals and Conservatives. The thing is that limiting the power of the PMO is what the Senate is supposed to do.

Stephen Harper’s absolute control of his caucus, his insistence on secrecy and tight restrictions on what information makes it to the press are all clear indications that the Prime Minister has too much power and too few cheques and balances under the current system. The Senate no doubt needs repairs but reforming it does more for democracy than abolishing it does. Without the senate, any Prime Minister with a majority government would enjoy nearly dictatorial power.

Ideally the Senate should be made up of the best and brightest; Canada’s smartest and most experienced people and appointments would be made independent of politics. Sadly that is easier said than done. Perhaps the Senate should be elected to fixed terms, perhaps even by proportional representation. Perhaps the Mulcair should focus on political corruption in general. Corruption, whether by the Prime Minister or a small town police officer should be on par, as a crime, with treason. Mulcair’s current position is wrong though, Canada is better off with the Senate without it and there are more important issues on the table.

The late, great Jack Layton brought the NDP to its current levels by talking with and learning from ordinary Canadians. He knew what their priorities where and what issues were important to them. Thomas Mulcair, however well meaning, seems more interested in becoming the new left-wing Stephen Harper.

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