Harper's former contemporaries unimpressed by Senate appointments
The question that has been on the minds of many Canadians since Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent appointment of nine new Senators this week, has been this:
What would his old Reform party contemporaries think of this?
In fact, that question has been on the minds of many since last December, when Harper appointed another 18 Senators to Parliament's upper chamber.
Fortunately, many of Harper's Reform party colleagues have been vocal on the subject, and they aren't entirely happy.
"It does look a little top-heavy, inside out, shall we say," said Deborah Grey, the MP for whom Harper went to work for upon her election to Parliament. "That will rankle lots of people."
"You better be ready to run for an elected seat," she added, referring to Harper's new batch of Senators.
Myron Thompson admitted to sympathizing with Harper for the position he's been in, but doesn't accept that as an excuse. "We don't like to see him go that route at all," he said. "The average strong conservative would say, 'Stay the course.'"
Former MPs Bob Mills and Ray Speaker seem much more comfortable with the appointments.
Tom Flanagan admitted that even he was taken by surprise when Harper appointed Carolyn Stewart-Olsen.
Naturally, Harper's political opponents have been quite vocal on the subject of these appointments. As Maclean's magazine writer Andrew Coyne notes, Harper's appointments may well have given them something to cry about. That may have even been the intent.
Yet the one individual who has been oddly quiet on the issue is former Reform party leader and Harper mentor Preston Manning. It was Manning's dedication to the issue of Senate reform that put, and has kept, it as a substantive issue in Canadian politics.
One would think that Manning would have something to say about Harper's Senate appointments, but has all along declined to comment.
Ever since Harper became Conservative party leader and Prime Minister, however, Manning has made a point of restraining his criticisms of Harper to those that are constructive and not damaging.
It isn't inconceivable that Manning's silence on the matter is indicative that he takes significant umbrage with it. A Manning 20 years younger may have even leaped back into the political fray over the issue.
It's all enough to make one wonder what would be said if Harper and his former colleagues sat down over a private dinner. Sometimes, one really can't go home again, and it isn't outrageous to wonder if Stephen Harper's former Reform party colleagues would welcome him as enthusiastically as once before.