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Canada's chamber of inebriated second thought is worse than useless

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Stephen Harper recently responded to concerns that 16 of the Senate's 105 seats are empty. He said Canadians aren't interested in more Senate appointments right now, and that the Senate is functioning fine as is. And...I'm sorry what is that function again?

John A. MacDonald called it a place for "sober second thought" because voters don’t always know what’s best for them. Or maybe he was inspired by his own drunken regrets. "I just don’t want Canada to wake up in a barn someday with its breath smelling like a horse because they tend to make out with horses when they get very drunk… metaphorically."

The Senate's defenders say senators rely on evidence to make decisions rather than populism. "Populism" being another word for representative democracy. This is part of political science's myth of  "disinterested parties," which says if someone is rich enough, or their job secure enough, they'll be aloof and unbiased about the public interest.

Exactly, just go to the Rosedale Golf & Country Club. It's full of people expressing their unselfish regard for the well-being of their fellow citizens, and definitely not with people complaining about how hard it is to find a good masseuse for their dog.

The Senate does have a couple of useful functions. They have committees that get different perspectives on legislation and do studies on areas of public interest. Sure, important work. So hire people to do that work, and fire them if they do it badly. Food inspectors are important, but we don't appoint them for life and give them a velvet hairnet.

We have a House of Commons with elected representatives who pass laws, and a Supreme Court to test those laws against the constitution. Why do we also need a bunch of people testing those laws against their personal biases? And I'm not even getting into royal assent, when our laws get their official approval from someone who gets her mandate from the sperm of King James.

A poll a year ago found 93 per cent of Canadians either want to abolish or reform the Senate. If it's impossible to do something that 93 per cent of the country wants, something has gone very wrong. And the last thing we need are 16 more disinterested parties drunk on power. Sorry, sober on power. 

This video is reposted from The Toronto Star.

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