Friday, July 09, 2010

The Conservative Senate Caucus Isn't Big Enough For Richard Neufield

Richard Neufield breaks Senate election promises

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has waited a long time to establish a Conservative majority in the Senate. He may have to wait a little bit longer, as Richard Neufield has pretty much written himself a ticket to be kicked out of the Conservative Party caucus.

Appointed by Harper on condition of supporting the Conservative Party's Senate reform agenda, Neufield has gone partially back on the deal, reneging on his promised support for Senate elections.

"Before I came here, I only thought about it when it was brought up in newspaper articles, or someone was ranting and raving about the Senate when they talked about elections," Neufield explained while speaking in the Senate chamber. "But I thought we should have an elected Senate."

If Neufield had principled reasons to change his mind about Senate elections, that would be one thing. Instead, what Neufield offered is a collection of the same lame excuses offered by individuals like Jack Layton and Stephane Dion.

Among them: suggesting that all the Conservatives do is disparage the Senate. (Not a credible argument against electing the Senate.)

"It is time to quit kicking the Senate. It is time to start talking about the good things we do," he insisted. "I do not think you can just continue to rant about how terrible the Senate is without telling people what the Senate does, what is has done and the good work that it does."

Moreover, Neufield attempted to espouse the benfits of the appointment process, but did so very unconvincingly.

Aside from arguing that he could not get elected to sit in the Senate -- an argument previously offered by the late Sister Peggy Butts (a Chretien appointee).

"The appointment process is quick and cheap," Neufield explained. "You can have regional representation and do all kinds of things. You can get a cross-section of the people that you want in this place."

The problem with this being that the appointment process allows the appointment of whatever cross-section of people any individual Prime Minister wanted in the Senate -- but not necessarily the cross-section the Canadian people want.

While Neufield has announced he's still in support of term limits, it isn't enough. The motivation for Neufield's change of position isn't clear, forcing one to resort to the default position in such cases: suspecting that Neufield's change is mere opportunism.

Richard Neufield isn't playing with the rest of the team, so it's time for him to sit in the bleachers. Stephen Harper has waited four years for a narrow pluarlity in the Senate. He can wait a few more months.

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