This Was Stephen Harper's Dumbest Move
January 5th, 2020 | AR
Stephen Harper is often regarded by his supporters as one of Canada's greatest prime ministers, but one fatal and devastating mistake can be attributed to his legacy that has set forth a future of obstruction for all future Conservative governments in Canada. This mistake was the result of blind ideology and a stubborn adherence to a principle that would never amount to anything. Before leaving office, Stephen Harper refused to do one thing that could have positively changed Canada's future. All future Conservative governments will now, therefore, be paying the price for decades to come.
By the time Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, the Canadian Senate had 28 vacant seats. In 2014, Aniz Alani launched a suit against the Harper government, arguing that the prime minister had a constitutional obligation to fill vacant seats—something Stephen Harper was refusing to do. Under the Harper government, vacancies in the Senate began to mount, eventually totalling more than 20 by the time his government fell to the Liberals in 2015.
Beginning in 2014, Conservative Senators began to implore the Harper government to fill the growing number of vacant seats, arguing that their jobs as Conservatives had been diminished and that their ability to pass bills and legislation had been hindered.
By the time Justin Trudeau had won, Aniz Alani's case was rendered moot. The new Liberal Prime Minister had every intention to fill the vacancies. Even during his remaining time in office, before giving up the reins to the new government, Stephen Harper failed to bother filling any Senate vacancies—leaving them open to be filled by a new Liberal leader.
Justin Trudeau would then go on to deceive Canadians by creating a new committee designed to appoint “non-partisan” Senators. Even after ten new Senators had been appointed by this new committee before the end of 2017, it became increasingly evident that these new Senators may, in fact, be non-partisan—but they certainly are not non-ideological.
Under the mask of being non-partisan, almost all of Justin Trudeau's Senate appointments have since exhibited an ideologically liberal agenda that seems to lean towards approving the Trudeau government's every move. Though they may not identify as partisan Liberals, these new non-partisan Senators are advancing an unwavering liberal agenda. These new ideological liberals serving in Canada's Senate will continue to carryout a left-leaning agenda until their terms expire—at the age of 75.
To his credit, Harper attempted to add term limits, but the Supreme Court Of Canada (also ideologically liberal) struck down any and all major reforms proposed by the Conservative government. Assuming it would become a major deciding factor in the 2015 election, Stephen Harper stayed true to his principles and refused to fill any of the vacancies in Canada's Senate. Unfortunately, the Conservatives went on to lose the election, leaving open a large and potentially influential number of vacant seats. During his remaining days in office, Stephen Harper continued to refuse to fill the vacancies.
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"Before leaving office, Stephen Harper refused to do one thing that could have positively changed Canada's future."
Going forward, any future Conservative government will have important legislation and reforms stalled and struck down by an ideologically liberal Senate. Possible cuts to spending, reforms to the CBC, changes to labour laws, modifications to free speech laws and various other Conservative proposals could face major obstruction in the Senate. Ideologically liberal Senators could stall, kill or permanently delay any laws passed by a future Conservative government. This could turn any future Conservative majority into a lame duck, helplessly waiting for the next Liberal government to take charge.
Had Stephen Harper acted to fill Senate vacancies between 2011 and 2015, there would be more Conservatives sitting in Canada's Senate. Instead, Canadians are left with another ideologically liberal branch of government. Together with the Supreme Court, Canada's Senate could (and likely will) hinder and stop any changes proposed by future Conservative governments. Just as the Supreme Court struck down the Harper government's Senate reforms, we should expect a liberal Senate and Supreme Court to do the same in the near future.
Even after he is gone, Justin Trudeau's ghost will continue to haunt us from the Red Chamber, thanks to Stephen Harper.
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