Sunday, March 09, 2008

Perhaps a bouquet of daisies

Harper might have to do a bit of groveling if he wants the Senate to bail him out.
The Liberal leader in the Senate says the Harper government should apologize for denigrating the upper chamber it's now imploring to kill a costly private member's bill aimed at providing tax benefits to parents saving for their children's education.

"I'm waiting for the dozen roses and a little word of apology for not appreciating the good work that's being done," Celine Hervieux-Payette joked in an interview Saturday.

Don't expect that any time soon.

Hervieux-Payette promised the Liberal-dominated Senate will give open-minded, sober consideration to the bill - both its merits and its potential impact on the government's bottom line - even though some senators may not be inclined to do any favours for a government that has maligned them as lazy, unaccountable, unelected, partisan hacks.

"There might be some who would like to take revenge, I agree, but this is not my style," she told The Canadian Press.

"We're there to serve Canadians and we're there to do a good job."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives are appealing to the Senate to kill a private member's bill that quietly passed the House of Commons last week over the minority government's objections. The bill, initiated by Liberal MP Dan McTeague, would allow parents to contribute up to $5,000 annually for each child to a Registered Education Savings Plan - and deduct the amount from their income taxes.

The Tories warn the costly idea could push the country's books back into deficit. The RESP program is estimated to cost as much as $2 billion per year - more than the razor-thin surplus projected for next year by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Not to put too fine a point on it but the reputation of the Senate is not a soaring example of assiduity. Nevertheless, the dilemma faced by the Harper government is a situation of its own making.

Now Harper's own nastiness is simply biting him back.
Just last week, Michael Fortier, whom Harper appointed to the Senate so that he could serve as his Public Works minister, questioned the relevance of the upper chamber. He criticized the partisan nature of the Senate appointees and suggested he's become a convert to the the cause of abolition.
Ah yes... Mr. Fortier. The promise made and broken by Harper. The Senate was very convenient for both Harper and Fortier then, wasn't it? How is Fortier doing anyway?
Fortier, who has missed all but five of 34 recorded Senate votes since his appointment two years ago, also slagged the work habits of his fellow senators, sneering that they are not Nobel Prize winners.
But I'll wager he collects his pay every month.
"You'd think they could be humble enough to admit they went overboard," Hervieux-Payette said of the Tories.

She said she doesn't expect an apology "for all the crazy things that have been said" but she said the government should at least show respect for the institution and the role that it plays as the chamber of sober second thought.

OK then. Maybe some dandelions.

Apologies: The link to the article quoted is now up.

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