27 August 2009

Next Thing You Know, the Pigs Will Be Sleeping in Mr. Jones' House

The old axiom "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" seems apropos this morning after reading about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's latest round of Senate appointments. While it's not the first time he's gone directly against old Reformatory thought about a more representative Senate under the Triple E criteria, this time is particularly brazen in terms of its patronage. His campaign chair Doug Finley is moving up to the Red Chamber. Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, the media relations expert that has done wonders in creating a delightfully toxic relationship between the PMO and the Canadian media, is also getting a plumb patronage position. The demagogical, populist ways of the past are clearly being left there by this Prime Minister, who was once the champion of an elected house of sober second thought.
Way back in 2006, Andrew Coyne wrote about the then-new Prime Minister's first foray into Senate reform, stating, "For Mr. Harper, the most important thing off the top is to destabilize the status quo, which is to say to delegitimize it." These latest appointments are as status quo as you can possibly get. Paul Martin appointed Francis Fox, his campaign chair, as well as a number of other long-time Liberals. I was critical of that too, so put away those "Liberal hypocrite" fusillades, folks. The Senate itself remains as illegitimate as ever, as does the process by which appointments to the chamber are made.

So for all the huff and puff over the years about Senate reform, we've seen exactly the same things from the Reformatories that they used to castigate the Liberals for doing. It was said that Harper would tackle the democratic deficit and address the need for true reform in the Senate, a move that would appeal not only to his base also to the countless Canadians that are tired of seeing politically well-connected people rewarded with golden parachutes to spend their golden years living off the public dollar for doing very little work. However, much like Napoleon and his cohorts living on Animal Farm, the trappings of power have made Harper and company difficult to distinguish from their Tory predecessors.

***Update*** Warren chimes in with some choice quotes here.

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