Politics is a tricky game when it comes to strategic alliances. Everyone has dirty secrets, just waiting to be uncovered, the kind that can turn the ideal candidate into a political party’s worst nightmare. Politicians are like time bombs: they are waiting to explode with erratic behaviour, the kind that can either unveil their full potential or destroy it completely.
During the 2008 elections, Patrick Brazeau was Stephen Harper’s secret weapon. The Liberals were in the midst of trying to pass the Kelowna Accord, an attempt at tentatively making peace between the federal government and the aboriginal communities. In an article published in The National Post on Feb. 13, journalist Ira Basen underlined that, in the midst of the 2008 electoral fever, the soon-to-be outgoing Liberal Party had argued that only they could maintain the momentum necessary to push through with the Kelowna Accord.
At the time, by getting Brazeau on his side, Stephen Harper had found a way for the Conservatives to say that they were equally concerned for their voters, just in a different way. In other words, Brazeau was the key to Harper seeking out the swing vote in aboriginals.
Now, with his golden boy Senator being charged with both assault and sexual assault, our Prime Minister is probably secretly kicking himself. Upon hearing about the allegations, Senator Brazeau was immediately removed from the Conservative caucus. Brazeau now sits as an independent, at the back of the Senate.
Despite this, Brazeau is not truly being left to fend for himself: despite having been dismissed for his actions, the Senator will still be entitled to the $132,000 annual salary that he receives as a member of the Senate. This is exactly the kind of incident that has had the Canadian electorate questioning the pertinence of the political body that is the Senate altogether.
The number of scandals related to fraudulent expense reports for this political body is ever increasing and, to parallel recent political activity in Quebec, the more we dig, the more we uncover ugly truths.
In light of this, it only seems legitimate that taxpayers would want some sort revision made in order to establish whether we actually need a Canadian Senate. After all, if it’s going to cost $90 million to maintain annually, it better be worth every penny.
Brazeau’s case underlines the point that although we are definitely functioning in the confines of a democratic parliamentary system, perhaps we should revisit the idea of our “checks and balances” system. After all, we, responsible Canadian voters, elect the Prime Minister and, in turn, he appoints the Senators as needed. Is that constitutional to begin with? Reworking this procedure to include some sort validation system would require amending the Constitution and, necessarily, some sort of Canadian consensus on behalf of most provinces on an array of “touchy” topics. This can only make voters wonder what kind of major scandal will have to be uncovered for us to consider “updating” the Canadian political machine, once and for all.