Sus­pended se­na­tors: wel­come to the real world

Seaway News - - EDITORIAL & OPINIONS - Bran­don Mayer Bran­don’s Opin­ion

Now that Se­na­tors Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Pa­trick Brazeau have been sus­pended with­out pay, ev­ery­one’s con­cern seems to be not with the is­sues in the Se­nate, but rather with Stephen Harper’s lack of “due process”. Give me a break. It’s not as though the Se­na­tors are spend­ing time in prison. They tem­po­rar­ily lost their jobs be­cause they mis­ap­pro­pri­ated funds at work. Wel­come to the real word.

Due process is a nec­es­sary part of democ­racy in our court sys­tems, but to ex­pect tax­pay­ers to foot the bill for Se­na­tor salaries while we wait for an RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ridicu­lous. Any­one else caught mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing funds at work, pri­vate or pub­lic, would no doubt be on their way home by the end of the day. No ben­e­fits, no pen­sion, and no prospect to re­turn in two years. Just fired.

Th­ese Se­na­tors are com­plain­ing about liv­ing with­out pay. Again wel­come to the real world. They will ei­ther have to find other work, or sur­vive off of the un­em­ploy­ment sys­tem that they them­selves helped to leg­is­late. I for one am not sym­pa­thetic.

Of course, this all ties into the is­sue of Se­nate re­form. I used to think that abol­ish­ing the Se­nate would be a good op­tion, but that would give a prime min­is­ter and his or her ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment full, un­chal­lenged power. An elected Se­nate would be bet­ter.

The Se­nate has long been thought of as a house of “sober sec­ond thought”, and there­fore a check on the power of the rul­ing gov­ern­ment. This would be true, if or­di­nary cit­i­zens were the ones choos­ing the Se­na­tors. In re­al­ity, there is a re­stric­tion on who can be­come a Se­na­tor that I think re­veals its true na­ture – Se­na­tors have to own a cer­tain amount of real, un-mort­gaged prop­erty to be el­i­gi­ble.

This pro­vi­sion is, for what it’s worth, a guar­an­tee that the in­ter­ests of the wealthy will never be over­thrown by the in­ter­ests of or­di­nary peo­ple. The Se­nate is not un­demo­cratic. Se­na­tors be­ing ap­pointed by lead­ers in power and re­stricted by clauses that make sure they are “rich” enough to be a Se­na­tor – now that’s un­demo­cratic.

So I’m all for a Se­nate that acts as an elected house of sober sec­ond thought, for the peo­ple, by the peo­ple. The cur­rent sys­tem has to go. As for Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau, Harper couldn’t have made a bet­ter de­ci­sion.

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