In the USA the Senate actually has some power and Senators are among the most respected politicians. Here in frozen Canada, the Senate has little power and is filled by appointments by the Prime Minister, leading to the impression that the place is a dumping ground for political patronage appointments.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he still wants to have an elected Senate, but fat chance that will ever happen given the lack of co-operation he has received from the other political parties and the provinces. So he went ahead with 18 appointments on Monday, including some interesting ones. Notably, former respected TV journalists Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy (right) were appointed to the Senate.
Well, at least they aren't total political hacks and at least they know Ottawa, so I'm happy they got in. For her part, Wallin said she'll step down once Saskatchewan holds planned Senate elections. Duffy, though, is representing PEI, which has no intention of holding any elections. So Duffy will be in there virtually forever, especially if the "coalition" kicks Harper out of office in January.
I notice a lot of people in PEI are criticizing Duffy's appointment and saying he doesn't live there anymore and so on, but I think that's a ridiculous assertion. He's a proud Maritimer, everyone knows that, and he plans to go back to live there. Besides, he's familiar with Ottawa, so he's qualified for the job. So these grumpy folks on the Island should shut up about it. It's better to have Mike Duffy there than some political hack.
Still, I'm sad to see Duffy's political TV show on CTV Newsnet go -- Mike Duffy Live. It was watchable with him on it holding everyone to the fire, but with Duffy gone you can bet the show will sink fast. Duffy was affable and at least knew politics. These other people at CTV News seem to be pit bulls who like to repeat the Liberal talking points. Jane Taber and Craig Oliver just seem to want to rant and rave all the time. That's my impression.
I imagine CTV is secretly delighted to see Duffy leave -- that's one more big salary the network won't have to pay. It's interesting to see so many prominent journalists give up TV and go to Ottawa jobs. As you know, former Global anchorman Peter Kent is also in Ottawa these days as an MP and cabinet minister. Of course, Governor-General Michaelle Jean is a former CBC reporter. I'll bet the day will come when we see "Count Floyd" Robertson as Governor-General yet.
Maybe all these laid-off journalists from all across the country should think of getting into politics, especially the Senate. Apparently the pay is good and the job security there is excellent right now.