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Monday, June 26 2017 @ 01:04 MDT

Why Senate reform will never happen under Stephen Harper's watch.

Canadian Politics

Rumours abounded today when the National Post reported that Stephen Harper would be announcing a call to abolish the Senate. Turns out Harper was just announcing that he wouldn't appoint any more senators at this time. The rational given for not appointing new senators is to force the provinces to play ball.

Herein lies Harper's problem when it comes to reforming the Senate. In order to simply change the Senate Harper needs 7 out of 10 provinces with 50% of the population on side in order to push the changes through. To abolish it requires unanimity on the parts of the provinces. These are difficult tasks, but not impossible ones. They can be accomplished with tact, diplomacy and consensus building on the part of the Prime Ministers. It would be a lot of hard work over several years, but doable.

The problem is that Harper doesn't do tact, diplomacy or consensus building. It's his way or the highway. The fact that he's treated his provincial counterparts with utter disdain for the past 10 years isn't helping him. To move Senate reform/abolishment forward Harper will need to actually meet with all the Premiers at the same time, something he has shown great reluctance of doing. The fact that he's trying to bully the Premiers into working for his vision is telling about his inability to work with others, something he's going to need to do to get reform accomplished. He will also have to compromise, also something he's not that great at. All of this will result in a complete failure to build the consensus he needs to make Senate reform happen.

So at the end of the day Harper's bully boy personality will mean that any attempt at Senate reform while he's Prime Minister will be stillborn. Harper just doesn't have the qualities of a statesman that would allow him to build the necessary consensus to move forward on reform. It will be up to a future Prime Minister who is far better at working to build consensus to reform the upper chamber; assuming Harper doesn't make the idea of reform so unpalatable that the change becomes an even more uphill climb.

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