Pass the smelling salts please – View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – February 2, 2011

Ottawa ON – Will someone please pass the smelling salts to our red chambered senators? It’s time they woke up in the real world. The decision by the Senate Committee of Internal Economy to continue to allow senators to send out a party’s political propaganda is plainly wrong. Were they sleeping when our MPs dealt with this issue?

Most senators claim to be either Liberals or Conservatives and as such take part in national caucus meetings and discussions. They cannot pretend that they were unaware of the House of Commons decision to ban the use of “10 percenters” for political partisan attacks.  Perhaps newly-minted senators Larry Smith and Don Meredith can bring a message from the real world to their new colleagues in the Senate that this was a bad decision.

Outside of what really is a misuse of taxpayer dollars, there is something inherently wrong when unelected senators can use taxpayer resources to attack individuals who are elected to represent a constituency.

It is dumb decisions like this one that further add to public scepticism about the Senate. The poll out today reinforces that with a third of Canadians wanting the Senate abolished outright and 49% wanting it reformed.

The Senate can and does do good work. Senate committees are arguably better than some of those on the House side some which have degenerated into the equivalent of kangaroo courts and exhibit the worse examples of partisanship seen in years.

Having worked for a short time on the Senate side in the 1990’s I can also say that many senators such as Don Oliver from Nova Scotia, are exceptionally hard working and their work ethic could put a number of MPs from all parties to shame.  The Senate also takes attendance which is a big plus compared to the House of Commons where it is forbidden to even mention that someone is absent from the chamber, but that is another issue.

Today is caucus day on the Hill. Let’s hope someone in both the Liberal and Conservative Party can take their respective senators aside and talk some sense into them.  The so called chamber of sober second thought needs to revisit this issue. Honourable senators are their own worse enemies, it’s time for them to smarten up or Canadians will do it for them.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

Best WesternKAV Productions

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