Stephen Harper once vowed he would only appoint elected senators. We're obviously long past that point for assorted reasons, some valid and some not as much, but what is impressive is how far in the other direction the Harper Conservatives have gone.
Never mind appointing only elected senators. We're so far removed from the spirit of that pledge that Harper has now made a habit of appointing to patronage heaven people who, when they were on the ballot, were rejected by the electorate. Instead of elected senators, we have senators who couldn't get elected.
The latest, called to the senate today, is Don Meredith. The failed Conservative candidate in the Toronto-Centre by-election in 2008 won by Liberal Bob Rae, Meredith finished not second, and not third, but fourth in that by-election, with just 2,982 votes for a paltry 12.5 per cent of the vote. Not only was Meredith behind the NDP, Green Party candidate Chris Tindal finished ahead of Meredith, besting him by 281 votes.
How bad was it for Meredith? Even the former Conservative candidate in the riding (later dumped by CPC HQ), Mark Warner, endorsed Rae:
On March 10, Warner publicly endorsed Rae, the man he’d planned to run against. (A breaking point for him was Meredith telling a St. James Town crowd that bedbugs were a matter of hygiene. “Telling your potential constituents ‘you stink, you don’t wash, you live in filth’ probably isn’t the best way to win an election,” Warner says.)
While Meredith did manage to score better than the candidates for the Animal Alliance and the Canadian Action Party, the message was pretty clear from Toronto-Centre voters they didn't want Meredith as their MP. But now he'll represent all of Ontario in the senate.
In case you think Meredith is an isolated case, by my count Meredith is the 10th senator appointed by Harper who ran for office and was rejected by the electorate. I wrote about all of them in a previous post; the list includes Salma Ataullahjan, Yonah Martin, Claude Carignan, Fabian Manning, Michel Rivard, John Wallace, Leo Houskas, Michael Fortier and Suzanne Duplessis.
Having to appoint senators in the absence of senate reform is one thing (we'll save the conversation about Harper's utter aversion to meaningful senate reform for another day). But claiming to favour an elected senate for accountability purposes, and then making a habit of appointed people who have been rejected by the electorate, is quite another.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers