In the National Post, columnist John Ivison writes of Stephen Harper’s disappointment on Friday as he “saw his ambition to reform the Senate blocked by the Supreme Court and his democratic reform minister was forced into an embarrassing climbdown on his elections bill reforms, after weeks of damaging criticism”.
With regard to the reference on Senate reform that the Supreme Court delivered its decision on Friday, he quotes Brian Lee Crowley:
Brian Lee Crowley, managing director of the Macdonald Laurier Institute, said the Supreme Court ruling takes abolition off the table. “It’s a bridge too far,” he said.
He said the Prime Minister now has two choices – “the blame game” – essentially telling Canadians that if they are angry at the Senate, don’t blame the Conservatives.
The second course would be to create a specific proposal on Senate reform (but not abolition) and take it to the people in the form of a referendum. He said the problem with constitutional reform is that, in the past, it has been an open-ended process, with every province pursuing its own agenda. “The result is a misbegotten mess like Charlottetown.” The goal in any referendum would be to make the proposal specific to the Senate.
The government gave no indication that it intends to go down this road. Mr. Harper said the great majority of Canadians want reform or abolition. “That option no longer exists for the future, or at least the near future,” he said.