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Friday, October 17, 2008

Is Jaffer on His Way to the Senate?

Congratulations are called for given the “secret” post-campaign marriage of Rahim Jaffer and Helena Guergis. Mr. Jaffer has also recently conceded the election to Dipper Linda Duncan.

Jaffer Severance Pay:
Don’t cry a tear for Mr. Jaffer and his campaign loss. He will collect $77,700.00 severance pay complements of the Canadian taxpayer. He will have to wait about 20 years to collect his $53,000.00 per year pension.

Senator Jaffer?
In the meantime it would not be a surprise if the Harper Party appointed Mr. Jaffer to the Senate. Jaffer would have to move to Ontario permanently because there are no Senate vacancies in Alberta right now, but Ontario has two openings. How hard will that be to relocate to become an Ontario Senator, especially since his wife is from Ontario?

Senator Jaffer will collect a basic entitlement of $134,400 per year for almost 40 years - until he is 75. If he takes on another role in the Senate he will get a significant top-up in the pay envelope. Dirty work but someone has to do it.

Senate Reform - Bert Brown is now Cool to the Idea!
I wonder if part of the Senate appointment will require Jaffer to support Harper’s campaign promise to institute 8 year term limits for the Senate. Bert Brown is the other Alberta Senate Reform champion but he is reported to be cool to Harper’s ideas on Senate reform all of a sudden. Brown was recently and finally appointed to the Senate as an “elected Senator” from Alberta. Newspaper reports indicate Mr. Brown is now cool to the idea of term limits but he still supports provinces electing Senators. Is anyone surprised?

This seems to put Mr. Brown totally off side with the Harper Party on Senate Reform. Brown does not want to see Harper unilaterally impose term limits because it would create a Constitutional crisis – likely lead by Quebec with Ontario and Atlantic Canada support. That would cause a provincial court challenge and further divide the country. But would Harper care if he is not going to stay in politics much longer than the life of his minority government?

Would Harper want to give up the discretion for Senate appointments to a bunch of wild-eyed reactionaries who might get elected from Provinces who would expect Harper to honour that democratic process? I think not.

Senate Reform is going to be a political sideshow given the serious economic, environment and social issues Canada really faces these days. That does not mean Senate reform will be ignored by the Harper Party. It is still a handy bone to throw to the radical right base that Harper still needs…even more than he needs Quebec…for the short term anyway.