There is a growing perception that the Canadian Senate will let Michael Chong’s private members bill die on the order paper. Chong’s Bill which was passed overwhelmingly by Parliament would make modest improvements to the powers of individual MP’s. They would be no longer threatened by the ability of a party leader to veto their nomination in their riding—a tool that has been used by party whips to bring dissident members to heel. There is also a provision that would allow the elected caucus to turf the leader. This is the norm in Great Britain, where Margaret Thatcher was ousted by her caucus. While the bill was passed by a wide majority in the house, it appears the senate is poised to kill the bill by simply not voting on it—essentially ‘ragging the puck’ to coin a hockey metaphor. It is incredible to think that this crop OF senators, under a cloud of scandal as they are, would further diminish their relevance by killing a bill that has so much popularity with Canadians of all political stripes. As the bill cleared Parliament there was some surprise that the normally controlling Harper government would allow its members to vote for the bill. Maybe now the answer is clear—that the Tories could vote for the bill in the house, in the certain knowledge that it would die in the senate. After all, Justin Trudeau has fired his senators and no longer controls them, whereas Harper remains very much in charge of his senate caucus. No matter what is really going on, the reluctance to deal with this bill in a democratic fashion feeds the opinions of the vast majority of Canadians who see no reason for the senate to continue to exist.
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