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'Coalition is not a dirty word'

Political science professor Paddy Kaye on whether we really need another federal election

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Pique: And the elected senate?

 

PS: Not without constitutional reform, which is a much bigger issue than an unelected senate. I think most Quebec politicians sitting there, whether they're sovereignists or federalists, would say if you want to open the constitution we have six other items we want to put in there along with the senate reform (because all provinces have to agree to change the constitution). They're not going to do one thing they don't care about unless they get two things they do care about.

 

I always talk to my students about senate reform. It's a worthy issue and worth discussing whether we should have party hacks on the public payroll, but I tell them it's like trying to nail down warped floorboards. You get one corner sorted out and another corner pops up.

 

It could be different in the future. (The senate) knows its place generally, and I don't mean that in a bad sense. But when they used the veto (to kill a Liberal and NDP climate change bill) it really made people notice.

 

Having said all that, it really is an incredible anachronism to have such a body, so yes, it should be reformed. But how? If I were a betting person I wouldn't be placing any money on senate reform.

 

Pique: The Harper Government has been under fire a lot lately, including the contempt of Parliament issue, Bev Oda, Bruce Carson. In your opinion have we reached any kind of tipping point similar to the Liberal's sponsorship scandal and gun registry flop? Is there anything to these controversies that could deter the Conservative base?

 

PS: I think we're actually close. My sense is this: in the jockeying going on at the beginning and trying to establish a narrative for this election, the Conservatives portray themselves as good managers of the economy. The opposition is working to paint them as people that can't be trusted... and in contempt of Parliament. Though it's probably two weeks out I think we're going to see those two issues growing into one for the opposition, which will question whether we can trust the Conservatives on the economy.

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