NDP objects to appointment of high-rolling Tory donor to Senate
The Conservative caucus in the Senate has remained stable, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed BC Lions owner David Braley to the upper chamber.
Braley joins Conservative Senator Jacques Demers among the roster of sporting figures who seem to have no business whatsoever in the Senate.
The Liberal Party and the NDP quickly vented their outrage at the appointment, noting that Braley donated $99,000 to the Conservative Party prior to the ban on corporate donations.
“It appears that the reason why he was appointed was because of close to $100,000 worth of donations to Conservatives in recent times,” complained Liberal MP Marlene Jennings. “I think it shows Mr Harper’s extreme cynicism, with regards to Parliament, the value of our constitutional parliamentary democracy, and to Canadians in general.”
One would think it were the first time that a party crony had ever been appointed to the Senate. One would think that the Liberals hadn't done it before, dozens of times.
Braley himself hasn't been shy about his donations to the Tories. It's no secret.
“There’s nothing wrong with donations," he insisted. "I was supporting what I believed in and it worked.”
“There’s no question. I had a very strong inclination toward the Conservative Party,” he concluded.
Paul Dewar took the point on the issue for the NDP.
“You can’t just keep appointing Conservative friends to the Senate and say you are doing things differently,” he said.
The problem for Paul Dewar and the NDP is that Harper and the Conservatives would very much like to do things differently. Unfortunately, the opposition insists on playing games with Senate reform. When Conservative bills are passed in the House of Commons, the formerly-Liberal-dominated Senate holds it up. When the legislation is introduced in the Senate following the Conservative achievement of a plurality, the opposition muses about blocking it in the House of Commons.
The David Braley appointment is cronyism. There's no doubt about it, and even Braley himself seems to implicitly admit it.
But there's clearly a method to this: Prime Minister Harper clearly intends to provoke enough outrage about his own partisan appointments that public support for Senate reform -- term limits, and advisory elections -- will strengthen.
It's a far-superior option to the NDP agenda on the Senate. The NDP wishes to abolish the Senate rather than see it reformed. For whatever purposes they want to abolish it, it isn't quite clear.
If Harper and the Conservatives can successfully make the status quo in regards to the Senate intolerable, a great many Canadians will thank him for the gift of a stronger democracy.
All they have to do is pay the price first.