Madam Speaker, my first thought, as I came into the chamber today to enter into the debate on the bill, was that here we go again, tinkering with an outdated, obsolete vestige of colonialism, something that is unworthy in its makeup and in the institution itself of any legitimate western democracy.
We are wasting the time of Parliament debating, tinkering with the Senate when, as per the policy of the NDP since the 1930s, the Senate should be abolished. It has outlived any usefulness and now it is just an instrument of abuse, pure, political and partisan pork.
There has never been a prime minister who has so abused the Senate and taken partisan advantage as the current Prime Minister, with 32 appointments. After being the one who agreed that the Senate was an outdated and obsolete institution, he has been stacking the Senate for purely partisan reasons.
Let me give an example of this. The president of the Conservative Party, the campaign manager of the Conservative Party, the chief fundraiser of the Conservative Party, the director of communications for the Conservative Party, the entire Conservative war room is now sitting in the Senate, pulling down $130,000 a year of taxpayers money, with staff, travel privileges and resources.
Who was the campaign manager in the last provincial election in my home province of Manitoba? The Conservative Senator from Manitoba, and I do not know if I am allowed to use his name. The former president of the Conservative Party was power shooted into Manitoba on the taxpayer nickel to work full time in partisan activities. He never has to stand for an election because he is there for life to act as an agent of the Conservative Party, not as the chamber of sober second thought, and is salaried, staffed and paid for in a direct subsidy by the taxpayers of Canada. It is appalling and it is atrocious. The senate should be abolished. It is a disgrace that we are using up time in our chamber to even re-arrange the deckchairs on that ridiculous institution.
There must be some old Reformers who have a hard time looking at themselves in the mirror, considering the things they used to say about the Senate. Now they are one. They have become what they used to most criticize. They have tossed overboard every principle on which they were founded in the interest of political expediency. They have been jettisoned over side. It is a disgrace.
Even as we speak, the Senate is sabotaging the Canadian Wheat Board bill with extra sittings. Because the courts have ruled against it, and it is against the rule of law, it is, lickety split, ramming this through. How could the Senate, in all good conscience, pass a bill that the courts have ruled against? It is one of its very functions, or used to be at least, to catch and correct any time that this chamber somehow passes a law that offends the Charter of Rights, the Constitution or the rule of law. That bill offends the rule of law, yet those senators are ramming it through.
It is possible that the Governor General, at least, will refuse to grant royal assent to a bill that the courts have struck down. As another vestige of colonialism, we have to ask permission of the Crown. When there is a runaway freight train of political expediency, like the current gang, like a bunch of six-year-old bullies who take advantage of their power to ram things through and run roughshod over everything that is good and decent about our parliamentary democracy, without even taking into account the rule of law, maybe those guys, if they are worth anything, will intercept the bill at the Senate stage, as will the Governor General at that stage, so the Conservatives cannot ram that bill through.
The other thing I want to speak about, in the brief time that we have, is this. It offends me to the core of my being that we end up having to deal with bills that originate in the Senate. In fact, those bills have primacy over the work of the chamber to which we members of Parliament have been elected.
We wait and wait our turn patiently to have our private members' bills heard. If our bill is lucky enough to get on the order of precedence, maybe we will be able to fulfill a dream of having our particular hobby horse heard in the House of Commons. The unelected chamber, senators generate bills, never mind reviewing legislation that we put together, and their bills come to this chamber and go to the top of the list, bumping the bills of members of Parliament. It is appalling. It makes my blood boil just thinking of it. I cannot believe there are people who call themselves democrats on that side of the House who put up with this ridiculous, almost embarrassing situation.
What Conservatives have proposed in the interests of democratic reform actually causes such a mess it will be pandemonium. There will be two and three different tiers of senators. We would have the elected senators and the senators who are there for life. Which ones have primacy then? Which ones have more weight? If we ever did go to a fully elected Senate, would that be the upper chamber? Would that be the senior chamber and how would the political dynamics work?
Every province in the federation of Canada wrestled with this issue and every province came to the same conclusion. They abolished their upper chamber and ensured there was adequate representation within the structure of their legislatures. We do not need a Senate.
There is an old joke about the radical diet. If one wants to lose 40 pounds of ugly fat, just cut off one's head. In this case, we could lose $200 million of utter waste just by chopping off the head of the Senate and eliminating it. We would keep the building. The chamber itself is a lovely place. I have no problem with the chamber. It is an architectural delight and it should be preserved and maintained, but the maintenance budget of the Senate chamber might be a couple of grand a year. The maintenance budget of each one of those political appointees, and I use that word in the politest way I could phrase it, costs us a fortune.
In actual fact, senators are hacks, flacks and bagmen and I do not just accuse the Conservatives. I am thinking of the most famous Liberal bagman in Manitoba who wound up in the Senate, and I will not mention his name. The most infamous Conservative bagman went right into the Senate so he could continue his partisan fundraising paid for by the taxpayer. While there, they were the architects of the biggest political election fraud in the history of Canada. Charged, tried, convicted, found guilty and they are sitting in the chamber as we speak, scheming their next election tricks.
I wish somebody watched these debates. If people only knew what we put up with by the other chamber, they would be appalled and would demand true reform in the form of abolishing that wasteful, archaic, outdated, obsolete relic of colonialism, that last vestige of colonialism that we wear around our necks like an albatross. It is like having an anchor dragging behind a boat, having the Canadian Senate as an obstacle to democracy. Senators do not enhance democracy. They sabotage and undermine democracy. Twice in the history of Canada—