Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Harper, a Caligula for our time.

In normal times I would not write this story, but these aren't normal times. I looked forward to seeing the eyes of the people, through the media, being firmly focused on the scandal enveloping the Prime Minister, his office and the Senate. Yet it was  not to be. Instead, Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford pulled his Samurai sword out and threw himself upon it in front of the blood thirsty Toronto media.

Ford, a personal and political friend of the Prime Minister decided, that of all days, to admit to having tried crack cocaine, by stopping himself in front of the media at his office and asking them to ask him a question that was asked over a year ago: "Did you smoke crack?". That drew the attention of the national and international media for the day, including a dramatic press conference right before the Senate was to have its historic vote which was just a repeat of his earlier performance. Mission accomplished - the night of the long knives in the Senate drew barely a glance.

The fact is Prime Minister Harper, the Caligula of our times, had his guard politically execute three Senators. Senators Duffy, Wallin, and Brazeau. The Canadian public had watched this drama take place in record numbers, with about 88% engagement - a record in recent times. The central issue to Senators fighting the Prime Minister's plans was due process - were these Senators being given fair judgement before being suspended. The issue of due process struck home with Canadians as they railed against yet another arbitrary decision of their Prime Minister. After Duffy's revelations of a political conspiracy and cover up, backed by an extensive email and paperwork trail, confirmed for many their thoughts of Prime Minister Harper - he is dishonest.

The three Senators claimed they followed the rules. They produced emails from senior officials authorizing their expenses, and charged the Prime Minister with getting rid of them for to garner political favour with the Conservative Party base.

The Prime Minister, and the Conservative Party, claimed these Senators "broke the rules", were caught by the auditors, and deserved a two year suspension without pay, benefits or use of the Senate facilities and staff. The common spin being if you or I did this in our work place we would be treated no differently - at a minimum.

All these arguments aside, and they can be put aside, the one most relevant guideline that was completely ignored by Harper, the Conservative Party, the Press, and even the Senators is such a move is unconstitutional. The role of the Senate, and the guidelines for all things Senate, is the British North America Act (BNA) of 1867 - our original constitution. It was consolidated with our official constitution in 1982 - The Constitution Act. The BNA makes no provision for suspending a Senator. It does have a very specific set of criteria to fire a Senator:
Disqualification of Senators31.The Place of a Senator shall become vacant in any of the following Cases:
(1)If for Two consecutive Sessions of the Parliament he fails to give his Attendance in the Senate:
(2)If he takes an Oath or makes a Declaration or Acknowledgment of Allegiance, Obedience, or Adherence to a Foreign Power, or does an Act whereby he becomes a Subject or Citizen, or entitled to the Rights or Privileges of a Subject or Citizen, of a Foreign Power:
(3)If he is adjudged Bankrupt or Insolvent, or applies for the Benefit of any Law relating to Insolvent Debtors, or becomes a public Defaulter:
(4)If he is attainted of Treason or convicted of Felony or of any infamous Crime:
(5)If he ceases to be qualified in respect of Property or of Residence; provided, that a Senator shall not be deemed to have ceased to be qualified in respect of Residence by reason only of his residing at the Seat of the Government of Canada while holding an Office under that Government requiring his Presence there.


Not one of these criteria were met. There is the suggestion that these Senators did not reside in their province, but no finding was made to that effect by the Senate or the Courts. Even if they were found not to be residing in their province the sentence is to expelled from the Senate permanently, with a replacement to be chosen. That is a very important fact. The constitution requires that each province in confederation be represented by a specific number of Senators. It states these Senators must be "in" the Senate, and they must "represent" their province. Specifically, from the BNA Act:

Representation of Provinces in Senate22.In relation to the Constitution of the Senate Canada shall be deemed to consist of Four Divisions:
3.The Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island;
4.The Western Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta;
which Four Divisions shall (subject to the Provisions of this Act) be equally represented in the Senate as follows: Ontario by twenty-four senators; Quebec by twenty-four senators; the Maritime Provinces and Prince Edward Island by twenty-four senators, ten thereof representing Nova Scotia, ten thereof representing New Brunswick, and four thereof representing Prince Edward Island; the Western Provinces by twenty-four senators, six thereof representing Manitoba, six thereof representing British Columbia, six thereof representing Saskatchewan, and six thereof representing Alberta; Newfoundland shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by six members; the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories shall be entitled to be represented in the Senate by one member each.
In the Case of Quebec each of the Twenty-four Senators representing that Province shall be appointed for One of the Twenty-four Electoral Divisions of Lower Canada specified in Schedule A. to Chapter One of the Consolidated Statutes of Canada.

The Senate is in fact, constitutionally, not a "star chamber" of sober second thought. Constitutionally it is described to be a weighted, appointed body that's focus is to represent provincial interests against an otherwise elected House of Commons. The rise of provincial governments in that role has practically diminished that role for the Senate, but on paper that remains its purpose. The bottom line is, the provinces of Quebec, PEI and Saskatchewan are without the constitutionally required number of Senators to represent them for two years. That is unconstitutional. That is improper.

Stephen Harper, the prodigy of Preston Manning, and co-founder of the western based Reform Party of old, has become the ultimate dictator. Instead of changing Ottawa for the better, he has simply used his office as a tool to impose his will. He has abused his power, his authority, and his office. He has shown his ruthlessness, and at the same time exposed to us all that the foundations of our country are but a mere inconvenience to him. It does not make him a strong leader with a vision. It makes him the Caligula of our times here in Canada, and it needs to change immediately.

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