07.23.2015 08:55 PM

Holy shit la merde

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall are expected to appear together Friday to call for the abolition of the Senate, according to a source familiar with their plans.

The election without a ballot question just got one. 


  1. Michael Bluth says:

    What is the ballot question now? Competing visions on what replaces the Senate?

    With this announcement aren’t the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP all on the same page with respect to the Senate?

    This is an example where it would be good to look at the actual polling question asked. “16% of poll respondents said their views of the Senate would inform their vote in the coming election.”

    Does that mean 16% of people would consider a party’s Senate plank when making their choice of who to vote for? I guess, but Senate change isn’t very salient in the minds of many people. I think Paul Martin’s hail mary with the Notwithstanding clause in 2006 proved how little average Canadians care about changes to the constitution.

    • Matt says:

      CPC want reform and if it couldn’t be reformed, abolish it.

      NDP have called for it to be abolished for some time

      Liberals want it kept but reformed.

      Reform is pretty much dead after the SCoC ruling last year requires a Constitutional amendment and 7 of 10 provinces representing more than 50% of the population to agree.

      Abolishion needs all 10 provinces to agree.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Oops. I should have shut the hell up.

  3. Kaiser Helmets 'n Motorbikes says:

    The dark knight returns…

    Just when Jesus Trudeau and Professor Charles Kingsfield thought they had this thing wrapped up.

  4. Matt says:

    And the NDP just lost a platform plank.

    But, as the SCoC has already ruled, it can’t happen without unanimous consent from all 10 provinces.

    And While Ontario is open to talking about reforms, they and Quebec are on record saying they won’t support abolition.

    So, I’m interested to see if Harper or Wall lay out any plans as to how it could otherwise be done.

    Referendum question on this years ballot maybe?

    Do you support abolishing the Senate? Yes or No.

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      My thinking, too. Ask the question right on the ballot.

      And then let premiers squirm in trying to defy what I’d predict would be overwhelming public support. People are sick and tired of hearing about the damned thing.

      Not to mention, pretty much drives a spike through one of the tires on the NDP bandwagon.

      • Paul says:

        Mr. Harper and the Conservatives have proven themselves very adept at using data to sew together their policy announcements. One has to ask whether the announcement on the Senate is really just a way to peel off enough slivers of NDP support west of Manitoba and rouse the base to further secure Conservative seats and win the seats considered in play. Mr. Harper will likely have other bombs to drop in Ontario and Quebec that have more importance to those provinces than the Senate.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Exactly. Whether it passes or not is almost beside the point; the real point is for voters to make the link that if you want to stop abuse of taxpayer money in the Senate, you should vote Conservative. By calling a referendum on election day, Harper could make that association.

  5. torontonian says:

    It would be good to see the PM endorse a long-standing plank of the NDP platform.

    • Matt says:

      The Conservatives have always looked at abolishing the Senate as an option, although they preferred reforming it.

      Harper is on record in 2007 saying just that, but this might be the first time he will have come right out and said abolish it, assuming of course the report is accurate.

  6. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Oh, yeah, it sure did!

    I’ve long suspected this was coming. It’s why he hasn’t appointed any more senators. And I can’t imagine anyone in the country who could possibly be more fed up with the whole damned matter than PM Harper. He’s been blocked every step of the way to get even the most minor reforms to the senate, first by the opposition (especially the Liberals), then either by refusal or outright indifference from premiers, and lastly by the Supreme Court. (Our wonderful constitution is basically carved in stone that would be the envy of builders of the Great Pyramid, ya think?)

    Fascinating that he’s joined by Brad Wall for this. Things that make you think, “Hmmm…”

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      After thought, from the “booby trap from hell” dept…

      Let’s say the CPC loses, either by vote to the NDP, or by coalition of Dippers and Libs.

      What happens next with all those senate vacancies?

      …if you get my drift.


    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      You forgot the subtext which is very clever of Harper. What does this move tomorrow signal about Harper’s eventual successor and the Prime Minister’s quiet and subtle views of same? So much for impartiality. Call it a tacit wink and a nod in favour of Wall — and a fine way to shaft all those who have already deserted (read left) HMCS Harper.

    • edward nuff says:

      hey al. Your dear leader made exhausted firefighters wait an hour for a photo op today. Bc news outlet would not print photo of dear leader and only referred to him as man in blue suit. If only everyone ghosted dear leader this way we might finally be rid of this bloated bag of $##t.

  7. Luke says:

    I do wonder if this will further benefit the NDP.

    However, aligning himself with the ever popular Brad Wall seems a clever idea; it might soften some hard feelings towards old Harper-poo.

    • GFMD says:

      Brad Wall is of interest to exactly 16 ridings. Almost all voted for the CPC in the last election. What possible improvement could there be for Harper here – does he finally win goodale’s riding out of this?

      • doconnor says:

        The new riding maps ungerrymanders Saskatchewan so the NDP is expected to pickup several urban seats there.

      • Luke says:

        My thinking is not that there will be any riding won out of that partnership, just that for those who are aware of Brad Wall and think favourably of him, Harper might seem a bit less awful. Maybe it is an insignificant proportion of people.

  8. Ridiculosity says:

    ““Bad as political fiction can be, there is always a politician prepared to make it look artistic by comparison.” – Christopher Hitchens

  9. Marc-André Chiasson says:

    Trying to divert attention from his flailing stewardship of Canada’s economy (recession; one trick oil pony; etc)…and to sprinkle himself with constitutional holy water in order to ward off the Duffy Curse.

    • Luke says:

      Agreed. Although it doesn’t mean it won’t work as a strategy. It also doesn’t mean abolition is a bad idea (although I’m not sure I love the idea).

  10. Derek Pearce says:

    Meh. Wonks like those of us who hang out here find this interesting but the economy will still be far far more important at the ballot box.

  11. Joe says:

    So the media dry humping the Duffy story was all for naught?

  12. Priyesh says:

    The Conservatives protects themselves from accusations that they’re doing nothing about the senate.

    The NDP protects themselves from accusations that they’re the only ones who want to re-open the constitution.

    And the Liberal party gets stuck holding the proverbial shitbag. Sigh.

  13. e.a.f. says:

    gee wonder what he really was doing in b.c. thursday, besides photo oping with the fires of hell behind him and the queen of photopness beside him? ah, perhaps he is getting a taste of what hell really is, fire and chruncie clark

  14. Mike says:

    This is a bad bad move by Harper. He has just given the opposition the opposition a club to hit him with. Every time he talks about Senate abolition, the opposition if they’re smart will ask why in 9 years he hasn’t move the Senate file one iota. For a guy who rode into Ottawa to reform the Senate he has done a lousy job. The opposition needs to ask why should we believe him now?

    This has the smell of desperation about it.

    • John says:

      Mike : exactly what I was thinking.

      • I disagree. I think voters are going to jump on this and will have very little patience for posturing from anyone on the “why didn’t you” and “now you’re doing something” crowd. Canadians overwhelmingly want the Senate gone. (Or to become Senators themselves and drink from the cup of free perks) They won’t care about “why didn’t you”, they’ll only care about how soon.

    • Vancouverois says:

      But in all fairness, he *has* moved on the Senate file. He’s made several attempts to change things, and made a reference to the Supreme Court on the requirements for reforming it. I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about them over the next few months, too.

      Now that the SCoC has come back with a ruling that confirms reform would require a constitutional amendment, he’s taking the next step as outlined in longstanding Conservative policy.

  15. EB says:


    PM Harper dissolves the senate.

  16. Taco says:

    What happen to the days when policy like this was decided at party conventions.

    • Vancouverois says:

      As far as I know, it was. This isn’t a dictum from Dear Leader. The Conservative position has long been that the Senate should be reformed; but that if it can’t be reformed, it should be abolished.

  17. Brad says:

    That’s rich on Harpers behalf, he put people in the senate basically as paid election workers of behalf of the CPC.

    He didn’t appoint Duffy for anything other than to have him fly around the country and promote the CPC party.

    I don’t care what he said in the past, he did nothing but make the Senate situation worse at OUR expense.

    Now he wants to get rid of it, I guess it’s no use to him anymore.

  18. P. Brenn says:

    I’m not that old but this damn Senate thing wont be resolved in my lifetime…

    I’m no politician and I know the higher the price of gas the more revenues for feds and provs but damn..oil is down 50% or so and gas prices are down marginally in Ontario – low oil and worldwide glut creating all kinds of issues in west – layoffs , mothballed projects , unemployment etc etc – yet no breaks on gas for us …again historical issue studied to death ( price fixing , worldwide issue blah blah blah, takes time for decreases to flow to pump, although increases make it very quickly) but where is logic in this – would this not be a good issue to take on …

    • Vancouverois says:

      I never thought the US would elect a black President in my lifetime, either.

      But hey, at least we all know that some things are still true. Like that the NDP will never, never win a majority government in Alberta.

    • GFMD says:

      Harper ran on decreasing the gasoline tax in 2004 (for fun, google the phrase “eight dollar heads of lettuce”). Once elected it went straight down the memory hole.

      It’s funny. Harper ran on cutting the gasoline tax but cut the GST. The Libs ran on cutting the GST but cut income taxes. Everybody seems to lie about what taxes they will cut, but the libs have the better record policy-wise.

  19. Kelly Oh says:

    I sure hope this Stephen Harper fellow becomes Prime Minister one day so he can do something about that Senate.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Not a just criticism. Harper can point to a long list of attempts to reform the Senate. If anyone asks why he didn’t go for abolition before, he’ll say that, in accordance with CPC policy, he first tried to reform it. But since that’s gone nowhere, he seeks a mandate to remove it.

  20. No province will go against the will of Canadian voters if Harper manages somehow to cobble together a policy that leads to abolishing the Senate. Not a chance – not even Quebec.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Oh… clever. Très astucieux.

      In a single stroke he neutralizes the Senate scandal, by demonstrating with a concrete proposal that he shares Canadians’ general disgust at the Senate misdoings; he steals a popular plank of the NDP platform; and he associates Conservatives with Senate reform. If he takes the step of calling for a national referendum on it on the same day as the election — as John Ivison has suggested in the National Post — the linkage will be very direct.


      Even if the referendum fails, it may influence enough votes to make a difference. And he can even try to use it to blunt the accusations of dictatorship that will be thrown his way over C-51. How can they say he’s a dictator when he’s taking such an important question directly to the people? (Of course they aren’t linked, but… optics!)

      It may not all work out that way, of course. But I bet that’s what he’s thinking.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Er, sorry — I meant that to be separate post.

      In response to your comment, I’d say that if there’s a referendum on the issue and the people of Quebec vote to abolish, Couillard would be hard pressed to ignore that.

  21. billg says:

    This Harper guy is a Reformer, he cant withstand a debate with Paul Martin.
    This Harper guy is scary and will fill jails with women wanting abortions, Paul Martin will crush him.
    This Harper guy has had his turn we can pick anyone to run against him, Stephan Dion will do fine.
    This Harper guy has ruined Canada, we don’t pick sides we’re Peace Keepers, lets bring Michael Ignatief in, he’d be a great PM.
    This isn’t about if he can or cant abolish the Senate…its about standing beside Wall, its about making the news and not reacting to it, and, its the photo op.
    This is how Liberals won so damn much, whats that saying about imitation…??

  22. Devil's Advocate says:

    Years ago I came up with this idea to reform the Senate as follows:

    1) 100 elected federal Senators elected at large using a PR system (1% of the vote equals 1 Senator). Yes, that would give those kooky fringe parties a voice if they can cobble together 1% of the vote.
    2) 10 Senators per province, 2 per territory. If the naysayers squawk about representation by population, I point them to #1. The respective provincial and territorial legislatures can choose how their Senators are elected or selected.

    The above of course would be too complicated to explain and gain political traction for. Probably best to abolish, but the Supreme court has stated that this requires unanimous consent from all the provinces.

    • Matt says:

      Constitution would still have to opened up, and the provinces would have to agree to REDUCING their number of senators. Not going to happen.

  23. GFMD says:

    Quick reminder for everyone who keeps saying a national referendum would influence this issue:

    If you think your position is popular among people who will actually be casting ballots in your election, the opinion of people who don’t cast ballots in your election matters about zero.

  24. Matt says:

    HuffPo now reporting the NP story is false.

    Joint news conference with Wall to be about Sask. wild fires, not the Senate.

    • Vancouverois says:

      Aw. Too bad — it was about to get interesting!

      However, just because he isn’t announcing it today doesn’t mean it might not be in the works. Maybe the rumours are right in the content, and just off in the timing.

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