Harper has his hair, Trudeau has balls.

Canadians now know the definitive difference between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. And it is not just that Trudeau takes action and Harper takes your money. Harper only talks about Senate reform; Trudeau does something about Senate reform. He has kicked the Liberal Senators out of the Liberal Caucus. He did not need the provinces to agree to that. It was not a constitutional reform. It just made sense.

After all, what good are they doing as Liberals? It is not as though the Liberal label was doing them or the Liberal Party any good. They are a motley collection of retired bagmen, former Members of Parliament and party apparatchiks. They can do just as good a job of criticizing Conservative government legislation as independent Senators as they can as Liberals.

Stephen Harper has the questionable record in preaching Senate reform and then for appointing the most senators ever sent to the Senate during one session of Parliament. Nobody else ever wanted that record. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was so sickened of the hypocrisy of government appointments that he asked incoming Prime Minister John Turner to make some of his appointments for him. (Which Turner did—landing him in the soup when Brian Mulroney attacked him for it in the Leader’s debate during the subsequent election.)

As much as this Senate action will give a boost to Justin Trudeau’s rating with voters, it is no solution to the basic questions about the Senate of Canada. Even if Senate appointments were taken away from the government of the day, there is just no place for an unelected Senate in Canada in the 21st Century.

An elected Senate would require a constitutional reform and that appears to be something that Justin Trudeau fears. He was old enough in the 1980s to see how his father was being pilloried for pushing Quebec away in repatriating the constitution. He sees it as a question that he best avoid at this time. As much as he might agree with the need for such reform, he wants to put it off.

There have been more than a few policy proposals on constitutional reform that are supposed to be in the works for the upcoming policy conference and it will be interesting to see if any of them see the light of day. These things seem to have a way of getting lost.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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