Senate scandal validates MP
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 30, 2013 06:00 am
Brent Rathgeber must be feeling a certain satisfaction as he watches his former boss squirm over allegations of political meddling, cover up and absolute dictatorship in his handling of the Senate scandal in Ottawa.
After all, the Edmonton-St. Albert MP left the Conservative caucus because he was on the receiving end of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top-down, my way or the highway approach to government. Last spring, the Prime Minister’s Office hijacked Rathgeber’s private member’s bill dealing with the disclosure of public sector salaries. Rathgeber’s bill, which would have forced public disclosure of employees earning more than $180,000 per year (at Crown corporations and within the civil service), was gutted by the government. The disclosure threshold was raised to $440,000, and it left Rathgeber questioning the unaccountable power of the PMO.
Rathgeber took a calculated risk when he walked away from the Conservative banner under which he was elected. He refused to waiver from his beliefs and it cost him his seat in the government. Will that risk prove fatal in the next federal election?
It’s a tall order for an MP sitting as an independent to get re-elected. The power and organization behind a political party – especially a ruling political party – is immense. The electorate recognizes that an independent representative has virtually no power and is ineffectual on government direction. That, coupled with the fact that St. Albert, federally, has a history of staunch Conservatism, could spell trouble for Rathgeber.
There are, however, whiffs of change in the political climate. The Senate scandal clearly shows what is, and always has been, wrong with Ottawa. The fact that the PMO controls the show is nothing new. It’s always been that way throughout Canada’s history. Remember Chretien, Mulroney and Trudeau? That’s rather recent history, but before them there were St. Laurent, Mackenzie King and Laurier.
Stacking the Senate is also not a new practice. It’s a prime ministerial sport to fill the chamber of “sober second thought” with lackeys. In the current scandal, three lackeys have gone rogue, and in doing so they’re tattling on the commanding PMO, exposing it (and our democracy) as little more than a dictatorship.
The Senate scandal magnifies the trouble with Canada – the democratic process is broken. On one end, you have an all-powerful PMO, and at the other you have a Senate that is toothless to do anything about it.
All of this bodes well for Rathgeber as we prepare for another federal election. Michael Cooper is one person who wants to capture the Conservative nomination in Edmonton-St. Albert. There will undoubtedly be others. Whoever wins the nomination will have to defend the Conservatives, the PMO and all of the cronyism we’ve witnessed so far in this debacle. And all the while, Brent Rathgeber can use the line, “See, I told you so.”