Wither the Senate

So, in yesterday’s lunchtime Gabfest, the Prime Minister hinted that he’d continue his quest for an elected senate. I’m not totally sure what I think of the senate- on the one hand I see a value in a house of sobre second thought, on the other hand I dislike partisan rubber stamping machines. It is the tragedy of our times that smart people are stuck in the senate where almost nothing they do will see the light of public. But anyway, this is less about my thoughts on the senate than the thoughts of someone else that I stumbled across while doing research:

From the compilation, Canadian Issues: Essays in Honour of Henry F. Angus, edited by Robert Clark Emphasis is mine:


No political subject provokes more dissatisfied public comment in Canada than its Senate. Rare is the year that passes when someone of note in this country has not been on his feet voicing criticism and seeking the reform or outright abolition of the Upper House. It is probably fair to say that most Canadians who are aware of the subject feel that the Senate has outlived its usefulness and has become a superfluous appendix to the political system. Indeed, the prestige and authority of the Senate has probably fallen to its lowest level in Canadian history.


This was not always so. During the 1930’s, when Mr. Dandurand and Mr. Meighen led their respective parties in the Upper House and when it harboured and illustrious group of other distinguished politicians, it was the forum of lively debates and commanded the interest and respectful attention of the public. Today the debates in the Upper House are so full, dreary, and futile that the press rarely thinks it worthwhile to give them any coverage. Even more symptomatic of its decay is the political fact that the recent governments of the day seem to have abandoned and ignored it. Saddest fact of all, the Senate has become and object of ridicule. Cynics call it the most exclusive club in the country, a haven of old men, retired politicians, and contributors to party funds.


Talk of the reform of the Senate is cyclical; it is a political vogue- sometimes more in fashion, sometimes less. And the arguments have not changed since Confederation. The reputation of the Upper House has always been challenged because of the senility of many of its members. It has always been challenged because of its lack of activity. The Label of a political haven is not new, nor are the abuses in the system of appointments.


John Turner, 1965

What does reasonably believe mean?

So, we’ve all probably heard about the Aqua Teen Hunger Force marketing ploy that metaphorically blew up in the faces of Bostonians yesterday. I think, perhaps, ironically, that this whole incident is actually funnier than the show usually is.

Anyhow, one of the Wired blogs takes a look at the law that those involved have been charged under. The best line:

The million dollar term here? “Reasonably believe.” Could a bunch of light-up boxes advertising a cartoon really be reasonably mistaken for an infernal device? I guess it depends what you mean by reasonably. In my book, someone being reasonable presumes they aren’t a hysterical moron, but I’m not really sure the state of Massachusetts shares my definition.

Where have I heard this before?

From The Memoirs of Hugh Keenleyside by, ironically enough, Hugh Keenleyside:

General McNaughton was admired and trusted by a large number of his proportion of his compatriots. Thus, when he rather belatedly began his final campaign against the treaty, although he was practically alone in his opposition he drew a wide support. The fact that all other informed opinion was against him was irrelevant because the unanimous opposition of the experts was almost unknown to the public.”

Minor Frustrations

Last week, when I was at the Archives, their internet was not working. Apparently they were hit by some sort of massive virus and it shut them down. That disturbs me, as you’d figure that a national institution that relies on software to work would have an up-to-date copy of Norton, but whatever.

Today, the internet is working fine. On every site except their own search page. There is nothing like bringing a laptop only to have it useful for nothing except procrastination.

All the views that are fit to print (in section c)

My friend Josh writes about the apparent failure of the average newspaper sports section to have a variety of views.

Some thoughts:

1) 55% of the time, the sports section still provides a variety of views, which is way more than I thought. I don’t read the Citizen’s sports page for balanced coverage of a Senators-Leafs match-up, I look to it to have snippy jokes about Toronto’s inability to beat us in the regular season. I expect the Star to make jokes about the post season. The sports section is the one part of the newspaper where we expect it to be biased towards the location. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not the paper fuels fandom or fandom fuels the paper in this regard.

2) None of this is not to say that sports coverage isn’t insipid. At its best, it can be great. At its worst, it isn’t fit to wrap fish with. Usually, though, it is my kind of insipid.

Radio Topics, January 30

The topics from the show this morning:

Wonder World of Web 2.0:
Youtube to share revenues with users?
Ebay pulls auctions for online “property”
Vista Debuts (Well, maybe this isn’t a web thing.)

Conservative attack Ads launch.

Maher Arar gets a cheque and an apology.

Taliban Jack finds a new friend… in Harmid Karzai?

Okay to block gay men from donating sperm.

N. Ireland Creates new police force.

Voluntarism reaches historic highs in the US

Students skip class to protest tuition fees!

Thanks a lot, Council

So, apparently that $400 million that the upper levels of government had promised is no longer for sure, despite assurances to the contrary by the responsible ministers. Some thoughts:

1) During the municipal election, the impression was that the federal money was our to do as we see fit, so long as it was for transit. Apparently not, in retrospect.

2) Provincially, the deal was for the Chiarelli-LRT plan, so presumably if council passed it again everything would be kosher. That doesn’t seem likely to happen, so who knows what will follow?

So, the city is left with the status quo: lots of sprawl in all directions, and not enough bus capacity to handle the traffic in the core. Woo!

Pots and Kettles

An introduction to Stockwell Day, quoted by Savage Washington, emphasis mine :

“I was struck back in 2003 after doing a briefing with some people in the Administration. It had been a rough year. We were getting ready to go to Iraq. Canada-US relations were somewhat strained by that. At the end of the briefing — which had been a little bit grim — about how Canada and the US could work together better in this war on terror that we were facing, the person I was was briefing paused and said to me, ‘Chris, where are all the good Canadians?’ When he said that it broke a little bit of my heart, because I’m an American but I love the Canadians. I think what he meant by that was ‘Where are the Canadians of World War I and World War II, that people understood to be… even when Europeans didn’t, those allies we had come to count on.’ Well, I have good news. Our speaker today is one of the good Canadians…”

I am not an expert introducer, but I suspect that when making beefs about Canada’s reluctance to go into war that it is mostly inadvisable to cite examples where the United States was the one wearing the reluctant hat.

Budgetary Tunnel Vision

I’m still not totally sure what I think with the Afghanistan mission, so I will spare you my direct musings on it for today. But what is clear is that the focus on it comes at the expense of other abilities of our armed forces. Tightening of the belt’s are useful exercises, but I would suggest that sacrificing sovereignty and  other  similar patrols is probably not an avenue that we want to go down.  We have the longest coastline in the world, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to keep what few coastal patrol vessels we have tied to a pier.

Radio Topics, January 16th

I’m back from an extended holiday, returning just in time to get up early on Tuesday mornings!

As always, we air on tomorrow from 7-930 am on 93.1fm in Ottawa, online for all the rest. This week will also feature the return of Asmique following the 8am BBC news.
Ontario’s Smoggiest Year on Record

Don’t send patients to less crowded hosptials, overcrowded hospitals told

1200 dollars may buy beer and popcorn, but it doesn’t create new child care spaces

Mayors push for dedicated transit funding

Wage war now, pay for war later?

Canada’s Drug policy a failure

Canadian Geneaology site goes live

Quebec goes ahead with massive Hydro project

Calls for ban of pharmaceutical drug sales to the US