Monday, April 11, 2011

Does Olivia Chow Actually Understand How Parliament Works?

Olivia Chow says Tory Senators should be working to pass legislation... when there is no legislation to pass

Following sightings of some Conservative Senators on the campaign trail, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow is crying dirty pool.

Chow has even taken to posting "Not Wanted" posters in her riding featuring photos of Senator Mike Duffy campaigning for Tory candidates. She's calling for NDP supporters to photograph campaigning Senators and send the photos to her campaign.

Chow insists that taxpayer dollars should not pay Senators to campaign for their Party's candidates.

“Why should taxpayers foot the bill for this?” Chow mused. “The Senators should be working to pass bills to help people instead of campaigning. ...These people are supposed to be passing important bills for all Canadians.”

Which, frankly, makes one wonder if Olivia Chow has any idea whatsoever what happens in Parliament when an election is called. The first thing that happens is that Parliament is adjourned. That means that any bills that have not yet been passed by the Senate and received Royal Assent die on the order paper.

Simply put, the Senators couldn't be working to pass bills that help people, because there are no longer any bills to pass.

If Chow were more noted for her thoughts on Senate reform, one would expect Chow to offer some kind of idea on how to make passing bills during election time a possibility: such as any bills that have passed the committee stage, and all their readings in the House of Commons to continue being debated in the Senate during an election.

Then again, as Mrs Jack Layton, Chow's idea of reforming the Senate is to abolish it. So we should expect no such suggestions.

This is unfortunate because Chow actually has a very good point. It's not right that Senators -- representing any party -- should be able to campaign on the public dime.

“This is not right and it is not fair,” she complained. Again, she's actually right about that.

There are two clear solutions: the first is that Senators should stop receiving paycheques once an election is called; paycheques that should not resume until after the election is over. Likewise, all the perks that come with being a Senator, including their travel and hospitality allowances, should be suspended.

But there's a better reform yet: Canadians could also be deciding which Senate candidate to vote for, as these Senators could potentially be worrying about an election campaign of their very own.

That's yet another reform that Olivia Chow seems to have no time for. But for largely-empty complaining, she seems to have all the time in the world.

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