Little Fish in a Giant pond

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mr. Accountability strikes again!

I watched the news with great interest yesterday as Prime Minister Harper's choices for Senate nominations were announced. I was even more interested to hear that the Prime Minister has chosen to name Thomas Cromwell, a former Nova Scotia Court of Appeal judge, to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Some of us Liberals are making more out of the senate appointments than they should. As much as I'd like to blast the PM for "abandoning" his pursuit of an elected senate, that is clearly not what has happened here. I think that all the appointments really mean is that for the time being, Harper has realized that Senate reform is not anywhere in the near future, and he must accept the senate as it is until it can be changed. In fact, an official senate reform would be impossible without the approval of the senate itself, so this may in fact be a means to an end.
I was one of the first people to criticize the PM when he named Fortier to the senate and then made him a cabinet minister, because that was about as hypocritical as he could have been, but in this particular case, I do not believe we can fairly accuse the PM of having betrayed his ideals (even if he has vowed never to name an unelected senator!).
What really bothers me is the nomination of Justice Chambers. From what I have read, he is an excellent choice, and is widely respected in the legal community, but my problem is not with the person Harper chose, merely the manner in which he was chosen. As I discussed in my May 4th 2008 post, Harper has had ample time to set up a selection process of his own to provide the accountability he has promised Canadians. At the very least, Harper could have done as he did for the nomination of Justice Rothstein, and simply kept the public hearing Paul Martin's government put in place. Instead, Harper has chosen to put the gears in reverse. His excuse is that the Supreme Court needed an Atlantic Canadian immediately, but as I mentioned before, he has had plenty of time.

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  • Fish,
    There is another reason he made these appointments. He is a desperate man. He is not sure if he will survive after January 2009 session of the Parliament so he wants to make as many partisan appointments as he can. He could have done this before but did not. Why now when Parliament is prorogued? May be these people will help him in his next career.

    By Blogger LeDaro, at 8:26 AM  

  • Thanks Ledaro, I meant to mention that but forgot.

    In fairness, I remember Martin making a bunch of appointments just before his last election, but even he left a few vacancies (and even appointed a dipper!).

    By Blogger Fish, at 9:06 AM  

  • What distinguishes Harper's appointments from the deeds/misdeeds of other p.m.'s is that he exploited a situation in which he had the GG prorogue parliament because he'd lost the confidence of the House. That was, after all, the sole reason that Harper sought the involuntary lockdown of parliament.

    Our hapless Governor General ought to have been alive to the possibility of this abuse and indulged Harper's request solely on condition that he not make any appointments. She let the country down on this point.

    That said, Canadian prime ministers have a rich history of totally or nearly total partisan senate appointments. Curiously enough, two pm's who were most willing to make opposition appointments were Pierre Trudeau and Paul Martin.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 1:40 PM  

  • Oh, and one more thing.

    Seasons Greetings to both of you from this snowbound island.

    By Blogger The Mound of Sound, at 1:41 PM  

  • Seasons greetings to you too Mound! And the same to you Ledaro!

    By Blogger Fish, at 6:29 PM  

  • Season's greeting to you Fish and have a great New Year.

    By Blogger LeDaro, at 5:51 AM  

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