The Province said:
The Province May 19, 2011
Canadians from coast to coast should be furious at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's grotesquely cynical appointment to the Senate of three failed Conservative candidates from the May 2 general election.
What an appalling slap in the face to Canadians and democracy for Harper to reward his pals with the ultimate in cushy patronage jobs only days after being rejected by voters.
Harper is doing nothing different in appointing his friends to the Senate -the Liberals did it for years and despite Jack Layton's squawking on the subject, no doubt he'd do it too if given the chance.
Harper's action feel like a greater betrayal of the public trust because for years he lobbied for an elected Senate. But his actions as prime minister on the Senate have shown him to be a hypocrite, especially with Thursday's appointments of former cabinet minister Josee Verner, and Fabian Manning and Larry Smith -two senators who stepped down to run as MPs. Democracy Watch Canada is correctly calling for a police investigation over whether Manning and Smith were given illegal assurances they'd be reappointed if they lost.
Harper wasn't even man enough to publicly explain his decision. He may think he's sticking it to the media, but many Canadians, especially in the West, may soon feel he's sticking it to them. What a lousy start to his new majority.
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Two of Canada's far right wing provincial party leaders, Brad Wall and Danielle Smith aren't very pleased.
Senate reformists and abolitionists howled and scowled at Harper's decision to plunk Larry Smith, Fabian Manning and Josee Verner into the red chamber immediately after naming an historically large cabinet in the face of his mantra for smaller government.
Smith and Manning resigned from their $135,000-a-year jobs plus perks in the unelected Senate to run in the election, while Verner was a Quebec cabinet minister before being trounced at the polls.
Gerry Nicholls, formerly of the National Citizens Coalition, said the appointments reek of arrogance and said the prime minister knew it would stir anger, especially among his traditional Reform base, which champions an elected, equal and effective Senate.
"It's old-fashioned patronage, cronyism, using power to reward friends," Nicholls said.
Nicholls suggested Harper has no intention of opening the Constitution to fix the Senate and said the Harper style of governing increasingly mirrors Liberal governments.
"Harper wants to destroy the Liberal party by becoming the Liberal party," he said.
Nova Scotia NDP Premier Darrell Dexter said Harper's actions amounts to a broken promise to have an elected upper chamber with set terms and will only damage his credibility on reforming the Senate.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, a Conservative ally of Harper, also expressed dismay and expects renewed calls for abolition of the chamber of sober second thought.
"I think it takes away momentum for change ... and it will probably increase calls that we hear from time to time ..., 'Do we really need this institution?'"
Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party in Alberta, said her Conservative supporters are also upset, but noted that with the exception of Alberta, the nine other provinces have themselves to blame by failing to enact legislation to pick Senate nominees.
"They should put their money where their mouth is."
An official in the Prime Minister's Office said Senate reform legislation that includes set terms could be introduced in the Commons this fall.
"We are disappointed by their (premiers) comments, but there is nothing stopping them from passing legislation and electing provincial nominees," said the official. "The prime minister is committed to appointing nominees as he has done in the past from Alberta."
Edited by ♪ ♫, 20 May 2011 - 10:59 AM.