Editorial Comment

Trudeau’s Senate Gambit

    You have to hand it to Justin Trudeau. He certainly knows how to get people talking. They may not agree with what he is saying, but it is his name on the lips of the folks in the taverns, coffee shops and office water cooler areas across the land. Few other third place party leaders have ever received such attention in my living memory. Tom Mulcair must be incensed.
    First it was Trudeau’s motion to force all MP’s to post their expenses online and followed through by posting his own. People will remember his boldness, far more than the fact he slipped up and had to reimburse the government quite recently for money improperly claimed. Then there was the whole pot smoking spectacle. He is arguably, the only elected official in Canada riding a big enough wave of popularity to have gotten away with it. The courageous, some even said, “honest” move (if indeed one can be considered honest while breaking a law one has actually voted for), fits his carefully crafted casual image perfectly. If Mulcair had smoked up, however, he would have looked like Rob Ford lite. It’s impossible to imagine Stephen Harper being high on pot anymore than one could imagine him twerking with Marg Princess Warrior.  Justin’s star is rising so quickly, he might even be able to pull off a twerking video with minimal damage and possible gains in the female vote.
    His latest foray into splashy politics was to surprise the country in general and the senate in particular by, one day last week, booting out all 32 Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus on Parliament Hill. They hadn’t done anything wrong (that we know of) pending the results of a looming senate audit. Still, Trudeau kicked the senators to the curb and pronounced them “independents” from that day forward.  Despite the fact these 32 were appointed by Liberal Prime Ministers due to their staunch Liberal credentials and, when cut, bleed Liberal red, they are now suddenly “independent” to vote any way their Liberal-steeped hearts desire. Harper jubilation over this new source of senate votes is likely muted.
    Besides cutting the senators loose, Trudeau suggested using a non-partisan, blue-ribbon panel to select worthy senators instead of them serving at Prime Minister’s pleasure.  According to CPC supporters, having our senators appointed by an unelected panel makes them even less accountable than they are now. They believe Trudeau is trying to shield himself, although he is  the Liberal party leader, of any responsibility for the misdeeds of his Liberal senate colleagues.  Specifically, it is a way for him to distance himself from the fallout of the senate audit, which whispers are saying many senators of both stripes may fail.  Trudeau’s ploy might work, too. He didn’t appoint them, after all, as Harper had appointed the now punished and expelled Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau trifecta of misplaced tenacity. At least Mac Harb had the decency to quit when he found out. 
    The point Trudeau made so plainly by this initiative, which should receive wide support,  is that senators have no business being in the MP’s caucus and never did. They were appointed to deliver “sober second thought”. How can they do that when their minds have been made up by the caucus? They should never have been allowed in the caucus room in the first place.
    The move was cleverly aimed at a Liberal demographic of interest; the policy wonks. The marijuana bit was for the all-important youth vote, while the expense claim initiative was designed to appeal to the fiscal prudence and transparency factions. One by one Trudeau is offering up juicy bits of platform keeping his name in the media and putting him ahead of the parade in a number of areas.  His thrusts speak of newness and fairness that are absent from the stale, stodgy Harper government.
    So why am I not more excited? Trudeau is doing the right things and saying the right things, other than the odd glaring speaking gaffes which have already dropped from the public’s memory, (although not the minds of attack ad writers). Remember Chinese totalitarianism being a great way to get things done? For the public, however, that was so last-sitting-of -Parliament ago. 
    His appeal is tremendous and his ideas are fresh. I would probably like him more if he had a different surname.  Sons often think much like their fathers before them. Peter McKay doesn’t have opinions that would shock Elmer. This is a disconcerting reality when one believes Pierre Trudeau was the worst Prime Minister in ones memory. The taxpayer funded social engineering projects introduced under Trudeau Sr. are still being paid for by you and me. Worse was his arrogance as he greeted prairie protestors with the one finger salute. Is that what Justin has in store for our province if he should come to power? Quotes have surfaced that appear to show he holds the same anti-Western bias his father had. His politics have been formed in a province known as much for corruption, high taxes and poor productivity as it is for its racist… sorry, secularist government and superiority complex over anyone who is not pure-blood French-Canadian.
    It is scary to contemplate which Justin Trudeau will come to the fore if he ever gets his hands on the reins of power. Will it be the clever, bold, innovative, fiscally prudent, principled, pan-Canadian man he is trying to embody or the pro-Quebec, anti-Western, social engineering addicted man we fear he might be?
    With the amount of support he is garnering nationwide and the deft moves he is making politically, it may be only a matter of time before we find out.

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