Suspended senators: welcome to the real world
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.