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An independent Senate … OMG, now what?
Posted By Senator Elaine McCoy May 27 2016 11:00AM

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend yesterday.  He was asking for advice on how to approach the Senate now that he needs to convince more than just 2 political leaders to support his members’ issues.  Then he said “many of my PR pals are equally puzzled.” So much so, apparently, that they’re actually advising their clients to hold tight for the moment until they can figure out what to do.  


In the meantime, some pundits are fussing over the fact that a couple of Independent Senators are going to sponsor government bills next week, and others (including backbiters in the political caucuses) are spitting out the notion that one vote in favour of a government bill will for everafter bind that senator to the government’s cause.  Good grief.  We’re more than just a vote. Can’t we all get past such simplistic, uni-dimensional indicators of independence? Whatever happened to fundamental Canadian values, things like individual rights, freedoms of belief and speech, and diversty?


Here’s the advice I gave my friend.  Life will not be that much different from what you’ve already been doing over the past several years.  You end up knowing which senators are strong on social issues, who are expert on financial matters, and who the ‘go-to’ people are for constitutional questions, and so on.  That’s because individual senators are consistently active on committees, in the Chamber, and often outside the Senate as well.  So you get a clear sense of their values and views, especially over the long run.


One difference will emerge, however, and this is the good news.  After you’ve talked to an individual senator and gained his or her support, you can walk away in the sure and certain knowledge that no interfering political boss will later upset your apple cart.  The merits of your case will not be undermined by irrelevant factors.  Now, how can that be bad?  I’d have thought it would be a cause of considerable satisfaction for Canadians who want us to make a real, unbiased difference.


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