FILE PHOTO// MPs John Rafferty, left, and Greg Rickford differ on the Conservative plan for the Senate.
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Greg Rickford is confident senate reform is en route now that his party has a majority in the House, and as of just recently, an even stronger majority in the Senate.
Stephen Harper announced the appointment of five senators this week, bringing the total number of seats the Conservatives have in the 105-seat upper House to 62. The Liberal still hold 40 seats while the former Progressive Conservative party and independents hold two seats each. New senators, who have all given their support to reforming the senate, include Diane Bellemare from Quebec, Tobias C. Enverga Jr., Thanh Hai Ngo, who are both from Ontario, Thomas Johnson McInnis from Nova Scotia and Paul E. McIntyre from New Brunswick.
MP Rickford (Con., Kenora) says now that Harper has two majorities, he can work on his promise to reform the senate.
“We sure feel more and more comfortable especially as a majority government and now a majority in the senate that we will be able to do our part of the work,” Rickford said.
“Our platform all along has been to reform the senate. We want to continue to work through the parliamentary system to ensure that the time for senators is more reasonable, more realistic than the current parameters, which are more chaotic sets of rules. That means we need to have continued dialogue with the provinces and persuading the other parties to get on board.”
Rickford said the question of reform has never left the Conservative agenda and added the reason why it hasn’t appeared more in the media was because there were other issues such as the economic crisis that took higher priority.
But MP John Rafferty (NDP,Thunder Bay-Rainy River) said the appointments show Harper going back on his promises.
About eight years ago, Harper promised not to bring in appointed senators but has brought in more than 50 to the upper chamber, he said.
“I guess we know where Harper’s word is worth,” Rafferty said. “He also said an appointed senator is a relic of the 19th century so I guess we know what century he lives in. I don’t think an elected senate does it. All the provinces have gotten rid of their upper chambers over the years. We’re none the worse for ware for democracy in the provinces and I would suggest that the lack of a senate has made the democratic process better.”
The senate was put in place as a sober second though but Rafferty argued it has done nothing to improve democracy in Canada. He said he would prefer if the senate was gone.
Tbnewswatch.com attempted to contact MP Bruce Hyer (Ind., Thunder Bay-Superior North) but was unsuccessful.
In a release to media, Hyer said the new appointees show Harper hasn’t kept his promise.
“Harper has now appointed more senators than all but nine of the most prolific senate-stacking Prime Ministers in Canadian history,” Hyer said in a media release sent Friday.
“The last few rounds of appointments were made on the excuse that Harper needed a majority in the senate to pass legislation for senate elections. He has already had a majority in the senate for months, yet his reform legislation has been going nowhere.”
With files from the Canadian Press
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