With the exception of a few good names on the list (e.g., Pamela Wallin I believe is well qualified), this is yet another case of Harper putting rewarding his friends ahead of doing what's good for the country and he's yet again shown his contempt for Parliament and his willingness to abandon any principles when it suits him.
His government currently enjoys no legitimacy with a majority of MPs having expressed in writing that they lack confidence in his government. He could have waited till the budget vote and done the right thing, but he refused he had to rush all these partisan cronies in the door. He's once again broken trust with the opposition parties who hold his fate in the balance and I hope they don't forget this slap in the face.
The illegitimacy of these appointments were bad enough but when I saw the names of who actually got appointed it showed clearly once and for all that Harper puts rewarding cronies ahead of what's good for the country. When I look at these appointments the main things that stick out to me are:
- NO partisan balance, unlike Paul Martin's appointments in a similar minority government context. As I understand ALL of these appointments will sit in the Conservative caucus.
- Only FOUR out of 18 are women, absolutely appalling. There is zero excuse for that and it is particularly unfortunate since it sets the Senate far backward in terms of gender equality in its composition.
- Harper rails about the Liberal-NDP coalition as being in bed with the separatists and he appoints someone who was in Parizeau's caucus during the last referendum. He also continues to cozy up to the badly broken ADQ with an appointment of one of their loyalists.
- Even though Pamela Wallin is well-qualified, Saskatchewan is the one province with a vacancy that was planning on holding Senate elections, so I would say this appointment shows his supposed commitment to a elected Senate was just a token promise for his base that he's obviously given up on. Now in power, Harper prefers to wield the powers of appointments much more than leaving it up to the people or to a more independent objective appointments process.
- With the exception of a few well-qualified people, most of these people are as Adam Radwanski said just b-list party bagmen, backroom boys, and defeated candidates. If Harper had to appoint Conservatives there were a lot more qualified men and women out there. Why do these appointments deserve $135,000 a year until they are 75? I don't buy that these people will voluntarily resign in 8 years because nothing legally binds them to that and I think once the Conservatives lose office (which will be in much less than 8 years) these appointees will dig in their heels and hold these posts as long as they are entitled to under the law.
To boot Stephen Harper has spit in the face of any claims of caring about gender equality and abandoned a lifetime of campaigning against using the Senate as a tool for patronage. It's clear for all to see, Stephen Harper doesn't really care about good government, he doesn't care about what's best for the people he's supposed to serve, he only cares above all else about power and rewarding those who have helped him keep it.
UPDATE: Apparently Pamela Wallin has said she will resign and put her name forward for Sask. Senate elections if/when they ever take place. I suspect almost all the rest of the others will not be nearly so courageous as to make this vow, what with many of them being defeated in the last election and Michael Fortier's experiences and all.
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