Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the amendment to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, regarding Senate term limits.
For the record, the amendment calls for striking out all of the words in the motion after the word “That” and substituting the following:
the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate term limits), because the term limits do not go far enough in addressing the problems with the Senate of Canada, and do not lead quickly enough to the abolition of the upper chamber, as recent events have shown to be necessary.
The New Democrats' position is clear. This bill falls far short on the changes necessary if the Senate is ever to be effective.
I wanted to rise during this debate because there are some important points that need to be made.
At the outset, I want to address the cynical workings of the government. It knows, as does every MP in this chamber, that the length of time that the senators stay in their appointed seats is not the real issue. The real issue is how they got to the Senate in the first place.
We know that the 35 unelected senators appointed by this Prime Minister were instrumental in killing, without debate, Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act by my colleague from Thunder Bay—Superior North.
Bill C-311 would have committed the federal government to achieving practical, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Bill C-311 was passed by a majority of the elected members of Parliament, representing the majority of Canadians.
This Prime Minister said in 2004, “I will not name appointed people to the Senate. Anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people they represent”.
For the record, let me name those unelected Conservative senators who voted to kill Bill C-311. They include David Angus, unelected, unaccountable; Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, unelected, unaccountable; David Braley, unelected, unaccountable; Patrick Brazeau, unelected, unaccountable.
I would like to talk a little about Senator Brazeau. I would like to quote Don Martin in an article he wrote, from February 3, 2009:
It's hard to imagine how such a thoroughly damaged resumé could've survived the supposedly ruthless scrutiny of the Prime Minister's Office, particularly when the job is a 40-year guaranteed Senate gig with an annual salary of $130,000 plus perks....
The man described in his bio as a loving father of three is darn close to qualifying to be a deadbeat dad with the mother of one offspring telling CTV that Brazeau hasn't seen or properly supported his 14-year-old son in eight years.
He questions whether this is the calibre of individual the Prime Minister had in mind when he set out to reform the Senate.
The list continues with Bert Brown, unelected, unaccountable; Claude Carignan, unelected, unaccountable; Andrée Champagne, unelected, unaccountable; Ethel Cochrane, unelected, unaccountable; Gerald Comeau, unelected, unaccountable; Anne Cools, unelected, unaccountable; Consiglio Di Nino, unelected, unaccountable; Fred Dickson, unelected, unaccountable; Mike Duffy, unelected, unaccountable, and it must be pretty tough for this guy, carrying the party line instead of asking tough questions of politicians; Nicole Eaton, unelected, unaccountable; Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, unelected, unaccountable; and Linda Frum, unelected, unaccountable.
As well, there was Irving Gerstein, and I will expand a little on this senator.
In his 2007 book on the Prime Minister's team, subtitled Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, Tom Flanagan, a former top PM adviser, had this to say:
Under Irving Gerstein's direction, the grassroots model of fundraising has built the Conservative Party into a financial powerhouse
What is his reward? It is $130,000 plus perks, all on the taxpayers' dime. What a slap in the face to Canadians. This is the senator who is going from community to community, province to province, raising funds for the Conservative Party.
The list continues with Stephen Greene, unelected, unaccountable; Leo Housakos, unelected, unaccountable; Janis Johnson, unelected, unaccountable; Noël Kinsella, unelected, unaccountable; Vim Kochhar, unelected, unaccountable; Daniel Lang, unelected, unaccountable; Marjory LeBreton, unelected, unaccountable; Elizabeth Marshall, unelected, unaccountable; Yonah Martin, unelected, unaccountable; Michael Meighen, unelected, unaccountable; Ruth Nancy, unelected, unaccountable; Richard Neufeld, unelected, unaccountable; Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie, unelected, unaccountable; Donald Oliver, unelected, unaccountable; Dennis Glen Patterson, unelected, unaccountable to the Canadian people; Donald Neil Plett, unelected, unaccountable; Rose-May Poirier, unelected, unaccountable; Bob Runciman, unelected, unaccountable; Hugh Segal, unelected, unaccountable; Judith Seidman, unelected, unaccountable; Gerry St. Germain, unelected, unaccountable; Carolyn Stewart Olsen, unelected, unaccountable; David Tkachuk, unelected, unaccountable; John Wallace, unelected, unaccountable; and Pamela Wallin, unelected, unaccountable.
These are all the senators who killed Bill C-311.
Let me speak a bit about another senator who was not present for the vote, Senator Doug Finley.
Bill C-311 was killed by this unaccountable Senate.
How about Michael Douglas Finley, who had to be escorted by security out of the House of Commons committee because he showed up uninvited and refused to leave, displaying such utter disrespect for this great institution?
We could spend a lot of time on all the other worthy services he delivered for the Conservative Party, but we do not have time to go there.
The Conservative committee that searches for these candidates should take a lesson from DND and advertise on the Internet for candidates, on such sites as craigslist and soft porn sites, like DND did. It may end up with better candidates to appoint to the unelected, unaccountable Senate.
I notice the growing discomfort on the faces of Conservative members as I read the names of these unelected, unaccountable and unrepresentative senators into the record of this chamber.
Is it any wonder that even in the Conservative-friendly corners criticism is mounting about the Prime Minister's unbelievable record of broken promises.
Let me quote John Ivison, who wrote in the National Post this week:
All politicians are haunted by things they’ve said in the past. All governments are buffeted by events and forced to shift position.
But how many times can a politician say something and then do the precise opposite before even his strongest supporters start to doubt him? The bond of trust between Mr. Harper and Canadians is eroding, according to opinion polls by Nik Nanos.
The list of those broken promises is long.
Can members imagine how Preston Manning must feel about the actions of the Prime Minister?
The Prime Minister is betraying all those who voted for him and the Reform Party.
He is betraying all those who thought they were getting a new form of government, one that was not as morally corrupt as the previous Liberal government.
Instead, we have a hyper-partisan, morally bankrupt, anti-democratic government that is thumbing its nose at every institution that upholds democracy.