Press-Republican

Columns

May 31, 2013

Trouble in Canada's upper house

A few years back, when Mike Duffy was a respected TV journalist and faithful habitué of the Parliamentary press club bar and office party circuit, he was called “senator” because of his (what we thought to be) joking desire to be named to the chamber of “sober second thought” — a description provided by Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, a notorious boozer.

Duffy’s whimsical wish came true in December 2008, a little more than two months after a controversial bit of journalism on his part, which analysts say helped Conservative leader Stephen Harper get elected prime minister.

Duffy, at the time the host of a politics program on a conservative-leaning network, aired an interview with then-Liberal party leader Stephane Dion in which Dion asked for clarification of a question posed by another interviewer from the same network. Duffy played it as an example of Dion’s faulty grasp of English.

The exchange aired days before the federal election, which polls showed to be a close race to that point.

The Canadian media ethics panel later ruled that the network in question and Duffy in particular had breached journalistic ethics.

Regardless, the affable Duffy reaped his reward and as a newly minted senator became an eager asset on the Conservative fundraising tour. But lately Duffy has been somewhat of a liability to Harper and the Conservatives, to the point that there is a renewed call to do something, anything, about Canada’s federal upper house.

American readers, accustomed to the immense power of the Senate, might have some difficulty grasping the function, let alone the continued existence of the Senate of Canada, which sits in a rather impressively ornate red-upholstered chamber.

The key distinction is that while the 100 American senators must seek election every six years, Canadian senators are appointed at the pleasure of the prime minister and sit, virtually untouchable, until forced into retirement at age 75 (it used to be life.)

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Big shift in Quebec vote

    Being a man of science, Philippe Couillard, premier-designate of Quebec, chose to use a geological term (though his field is actually medicine) to describe what happened in Monday's election, writes Canadian columnist Peter Black.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg A monastery in the Hebrides, after 1,000 years

    Before Father Seraphim Aldea can build a monastery on Scotland's Mull Island, he needs to have a working septic system, writes religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg Old movies offer more than entertaining TV

    Columnist Susan Tobias and her husband, Toby, are reminded of simple childhood memories while watching an old black-and-white movie.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time