After managing to get parliament prorogued to save his government from certain defeat because it did not have the confidence of the house, Harper now fills 18 Senate seats during the period of prorogation. Of course he can get away with it even though it is certainly at the very least unseemly in a parliamentary system.
The Great Foe of an unelected Senate now is appointing 18 senators at one stroke the most in human history. Certainly Harper is no Grinch but the Great Santa dispensing plums of patronage. Of course Santa Claus is hardly giving out these rewards just to show Xmas spirit. Harper wants to ensure that these vacancies are filled before parliament resumes just in case by some mischance the coalition could end up governing if his government loses the confidence of the house again.
Harper readies to fill 18 Senate seats
Last Updated: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:12 AM ET
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to appoint 18 Conservatives to the Senate on Monday, in an effort to balance out the Liberal-dominated place of sober second thought.
Former broadcaster Pamela Wallin, Olympian Nancy Greene and ex-P.E.I. premier Pat Binns are rumoured to be among those in line for the jobs, said CBC's Margo McDiarmid.
Seat vacancies by province/territory:
(Source: Parliament of Canada website)
The announcement is expected around noon ET on Monday, said McDiarmid.
Opposition parties have been critical of Harper's decision to make patronage appointments during a time when Parliament is prorogued, saying the prime minister does not have the confidence of the House of Commons.
In early December, Harper asked Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament until Jan. 26, a move aimed at avoiding a confidence vote in which opposition parties planned to topple his minority government and try to bring a Liberal-NDP coalition to power.
But the opposition parties could still trigger an election on Jan. 27 when the Conservatives introduce their annual budget.
"The concern is if [Harper] doesn't appoint his own senators, that the Liberals get back in, appoint their own senators and the Conservatives will never be able to catch up," said McDiarmid.
Liberal-affiliated senators currently occupy 58 of the 105 seats, while 20 are held by Conservatives. Other seats are held by Independents and senators of other party affiliations.
Harper's appointment of senators will mark a significant departure from his long-held position that Senate members should be elected.
Until now, the prime minister has held off filling the 18 vacancies in hopes of reforming the Senate to make sure members are elected, but he has been unable to pass any legislation to that effect.
Since coming to power in 2006, the Tories have only named Quebecer Michael Fortier and Albertan Bert Brown to the Senate.
Following the January 2006 election of a Conservative minority government, Harper gave Fortier a seat in the Senate and then appointed him to a cabinet post, a decision he said was to ensure representation for Montreal. The Montreal lawyer resigned from his Senate seat for an unsuccessful bid in the October election.
Conservative Senator Bert Brown won his seat in an election in Alberta, one of two provinces that have set up their own Senate election process for the regionally distributed seats. The other province is Saskatchewan.
Harper's office has indicated his appointees would be expected to step aside if Senate reforms were passed.