Friday, January 31, 2014

Jan. 31: political games and the Senate

It's no secret. The Senate has, for all of its history, been a collection of political toadies and hacks A few senators, but only a few, have had anything noticeable in the way of brains. I appeared at least twice before Senate committees, and was appalled at the combination of ignorance and bias I saw on display.

And, despite the recent excitement, neither Trudeau nor Harper has suggested any solution.

Trudeau's dismissal of Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus (regular meetings of Liberal parliamentarians) will do nothing to make senators either more impartial or more intelligent.

And his hint that we will find a better way of choosing senators  is as bad Harper's of having an elected Senate. To make either change would require a constitutional change. And any constitutional change requires the consent of the provinces. And any such consent is either impossible to obtain or can be obtained only by making other changes to get provincial support - and such changes would probably be worse for Canada than the existing Senate.

The problem is not changing the way we choose senators. The problem is figuring out what the Senate is for in the first place.

The Senate is not a place for "sober, second thought". It never was, and was never intended to be.

John A. Macdonald had no interest in sober thoughts whether second or any other number. In his view - and that of most fathers of confederation, the whole purpose of politics was to get them into power where they could serve the rich - and get handsome rewards for their efforts.

The problem was the House of Commons. Any of the common rabble (male one) could vote for MPs. What if those common people should get well enough organized to do cruel things - like make the rich pay taxes?

Enter the Senate. Senators had to be persons of property - ($4000). $4,000 was a lot of money when a man commonly had to work a year (if he could find work) to earn $100 to $200 a year - and when a woman earned even less. So a man who had $4000 in property was a man not likely to entertain silly and radical ideas.

This was all quite deliberate; and it was made even more obvious when PMs routinely appointed senators on the basis of party and social position.

The Senate is not and was never meant to be a place of sober, second thought It's purpose was, and is, to protect the very rich against the rest of us, to make sure Canada was run by the "better sort of people". (I think here of one senator in particular. She was born rich, married richer, and has a burning hatred and contempt for anyone who isn't rich.)

The question is not how to choose a Senate. The question is "what is a Senate for?" (And no, don't tell me it's to protect the provinces. It was never done that except to protect the rich and other power blocs in the provinces.)

As for Trudeau's proposal? Like Harper's promise of an elected Senate, it's just part of a game.

NewsToday is for the day's big stories around the world - like "Beiber faces uphill image battle" and

"Tree-bound cat rescued from an icy fate in Bathurst".  (No kidding. These are the two, biggest stories.)

So there was no room for the story that Communications Security Establishment of Canada (spies) has been spying on Canadians through their computers and phones. And on very large numbers of Canadians. And handing over the information to the US and others like, for example, big business.

The is contrary to the mandate of the agency, and contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Now, the head of the agency is on record as appearing in court and at parliamentary hearings - and saying he was not spying on Canadians. I think that's called lying - and it's very serious to lie to court or to parliament.

Will Harper do anything about it? Why should he? The ignorance press, of which Irvng press is a prime example, don't even bother to report it. I begin to understand how the German people drifted so unthinkingly into Hitler's police state.

No. That's not an exaggeration. We live in a police state that is closely interlinked with the US police state. And it's not about security. It's about control, controlling us. Think of that, then look over the Justin Bieber story - and think whether  you really give a damn about Justin Bieber.

The story about the spy scandal isn't in the TandT. But you can get it from those awful people at CBC. Amazing how much they have that the TandT doesn't.

Not is there any news about the Trans-Pacific  Partnership, the biggest trade deal in history - and one we know almost nothing about. It is almost universal in such deals, now, to give companies the right to ignore environmental concerns, to give them a right to pillage and leave nothing but destruction behind, to avoid taxes, and the right to sue any government (in a private and secret court with judges picked by the corporations) for changing conditions of the trade deal - even if those changes are necessary to save human lives.

There's no mention of Obama's recent and fraudulent promise to close the wage gap. The major device in it is to raise the minimum wage to a little over $10 an hour.  Boy. That will hit whose multi-billionaires where it hurts.

But there is a catch. Only new employees will be eligible for the minimum wage. And most firms in the US don't have any new employees - and aren't likely to get any.

Obama was always fluff and chicken bones. There was never any substance to him from the start. Now - well - this looks worse than a lack of substance. This looks like fraud and deception..


Note the back page of C10 which tells how US patience is wearing thin over Syria's handing over of chemical weapons. Paragraph three gives the impression that the demand to Syria to surrender its chemical weapons was the result of a government attack on rebels using poison gas.

In fact, American scientists confirmed weeks ago that the attack was made by rebel forces, not by the government. But virtually the whole North American press continues to lay blame on the Syrian government.

By the way, if it's bad to have chemical weapons, why are the US, Russia, Israel, etc. allowed to  have them?


There is also no news that the US is stepping up its supply of regular troops in Africa, as well as maintaining assassination squads in most of the continent. Meanwhile, France has shipped 3,000 troops to provide "humanitarian aid" to one of its old colonies in Africa.

So what's going on?

The western countries have been humiliating, impoverishing and murdering Africans for at least 300 years, usually in the form of capitalism (oops, entrepreneurship). Among the earliest entrepreneurs were slave buyers. Estimates are they killed some 60,000,000 just in the transportation part of the process.

Then there was (and still is) the 150 years or so of "economic development". (I mean, you know how it is, capitalism is the greatest producer of wealth in history). The problem is it produces wealth only for the capitalists. In Africa, Asia, South America, the west made billions on the resources and labour of native peoples, in the process murdering uncounted millions, destroying social structures, creating misery, starvation and early death.

Nor did the common folks back home ever see much of that wealth. At the peak of the British Empire, while the rich built their palaces and country estates, the majority of the British people lived in poverty.

Now, the Americans and the French are trying to restore what most Africans had hoped would end after 1945 - a new colonialism, more murderous than ever, and  all tarted up with lying talk about democracy.

But you'll never learn any of that from reading the Irving press - or any other North American press.


  1. Trudeau's proposal to have a qualified panel select a list of / individual senators rather than simply leaving this to the prime minister to select, does NOT require any constitutional change.

    The Trudeau selection method would be a decision made by the Prime Minister. Unless enshrined in law (which a majority or minority Liberal government, if it musters 50% plus 1 votes in the House, could do), could be undone by a later Prime Minister. Even such a law (which is not needed), would not amount to a constitutional amendment.

    So the choice seems to be change requiring constitutional amendment (ala Mulcair); change that might or might not need constitutional amendment (ala Harper, and depending on the Supreme Court's decision); or change that requires the PM to make a decision (ala Trudeau).

  2. Thanks. I'll check that.
    But I'm not sure it changes anything.
    The prime problem is that the senate does not have any function that is compatible with a democratic society. It was designed simply to serve the very rich. Until we decide what it's for, I don't see how we can select a "qualified' panel to nominate senators.
    The immediate problem is not changing the system at all. The immediate problem is figuring out what the senate should be for.

  3. CuriosityCat is right and I was wrong. A constitutional change for Trudeau's proposal would not be necessary.
    Alas - as Curiosity Canada also mentioned, any change that is not locked in by the constitution can be overthrown by any PM with a majority.

    My favoured approach is to start with what the Senate should be for. Then we work on how to do it. Constitutional change would almost certainly come at too high a price. I would prefer a change well understood and supported by the Canadian people. That, more than any promise by a PM, would give it some durability.
    That's risky, I know. But a guarantee in the form of popular support could be our best bet.