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Senator Bryden (NB) said it straight out yesterday: "We are, each of us, independent decision-makers." He was responding to Senator Stratton (MB) who seemed to think that I, an independent Senator, am subject to his authority as Conservative Whip. That assertion sparked a lively response from Senator Bryden whose remarks were specifically "aimed at Senator Stratton. I could not believe the choice of words that the honourable senator used, that senators in this chamber are 'whipped.' We are not 'whipped.'"
Ironically, this exchange occurred on the very day that Senator Prud'homme (QC) was honoured for 45 years of continuous service in Parliament, first as an MP and then as an independent Senator. The Leader of the Government in the Senate had this to say in paying him tribute: "Canadian politics depends upon partisanship and honest debate of the issues of the day by our political parties but I am glad that there are independent voices like those of Senator Prud'homme in this chamber." Clearly the Conservatives are decidedly comfortable with the notion of partisan politics. Fortunately, others (myself included) are happy to maintain the tradition of independence in the Senate.
Posted On Feb 12 08:21AM
Seems as though the whip is wielding his weapon having never learned how to use the instrument in the first place.
Posted On Feb 11 03:32PM
Independence from partisan politics is exactly what I look to from the Senate. That's what it's meant to do. Curb elected members' excessive zeal on regional favouritism and blind obedience to party leaders. Without that, Canada becomes vulnerable to centralist fervour. Our much vaunted values of pluralism and collaboration amongst many different cultures, provinces and territories are also put at risk, if they're not acted out in the highest of the nation's institutions. This is a very slippery slope indeed. I'd say the principle of independence needs to be reinforced more often. As Selim says, it's an especially important lesson for the newest 18 senators to learn.
Posted On Feb 11 03:16PM
No wonder Harper was so keen to say his new appointments had all agreed to agree with him. Independence is not something our PM values. I'll bet it came as quite a surprise to however many of the 18 were in the Senate yesterday that they were free to vote their conscience! Let's hope they learn from older and wiser senators what their true role should be, and then keep our fingers crossed that they'll have the courage to do their duty.
Posted On Feb 11 02:01PM
It is clear that the CPC vision of the senate is far distant from that of most of those of us who view it as the chamber of sober (somewhat independent) second thought! Some pundits have voiced the thought that certain of the recent apointments, in particular one rotound rather biased and outspoken gentleman, were a deliberate move to bring the upper house into disrupute in the public eye. Given the questionable actions of a few of those apointees, both recently in the chamber and previously before apointment, I cannot shake that thought from my mind!