Wright and the PM – second installment

Shock! Senate working as an independent legislature of sober second thought! Horror in the PMO!

I cite the report of John Ivison, quoting Nigel Wright’s memo to the PM on the subject of problems with the Senate:

“What we have discovered is that the lines of communication and levers that are available to us on the House side, simply are not in place on the Senate side,” wrote Mr. Wright.

Ivison writes in his own voice:

Problems were not limited to expenses and residency issues — Senate committee reports called on the government to lower airport rents, create a national pharmacare plan, invest heavily in aboriginal education and review tariffs as a way of dealing with the price gap with the U.S. In other words, senators provided independent, sober second thought on the policy issues of the day, just as the Constitution envisaged.

Nigel Wright’s memo:

“These issues are exacerbated by Senator [Marjory] LeBreton’s repeated approach of reaching agreement with Liberal leadership before coming to your office or her Senate colleagues for consultation. Consistently, Senator LeBreton does not embrace the work of your office to bring communication and direction with the Senate closer to the model that we have with the House Leader and Chief Government Whip,” he wrote.

Ivison writes:

If ever there is a referendum on Senate abolition, this short passage should be held up as a demonstration to Canadians that the Red Chamber retains a degree of independence — even from this most controlling of governments — just as the fathers of Confederation intended.

You could argue that Prime Minister Harper reached out to crush them for their independence, but the notion that he tried to bring rectitude too fast to a slack institution explains the facts better.