“This is an historic moment.”
Homo narcissus, the most populous hominid, always thought that his was the golden age. Give him credit– his people developed written language, built the Great Wall, put a man on the moon, and then doctored history to make the movie 300. These were all great accomplishments, and each gave its contemporaries reason to believe that theirs was a defining moment in human history. Yet none of these was the day the world turned upside down. This was. On Wednesday January 29, 2014, boy wonder Justin Trudeau removed every Liberal senator from his caucus.
The scribes scrambled to update Homo narcissus’ résumé. This was Canada’s defining moment! Forget the railroad, the rebellions, Vimy Ridge, and the 2010 hockey golds… this was by far the most impressive display since Confederation. The golden boy did what no man before him could do, not even King Harper. He brought meaningful reform to Canada’s most famous minimum-security prison.
Most amazingly, he did it by his own volition. No voter, no act of Parliament, no written law forced him to make the decision. His motivation was simple: “The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed.” This was Justin’s time to shine.
Unfortunately, other MPs tried their best to rain on his parade. Pierre Poilievre, a Conservative Minister of State, quickly pointed out that Trudeau’s move was “a smokescreen” designed to protect the Liberals from the Auditor General’s forthcoming report on the Senate. This sounds ridiculous, but Mr. Poilievre’s opinion is actually valuable in this regard. His government knows the benefit of a good smokescreen, especially when protecting itself from AG reports that show how it mishandled the F-35 file, failed to protect Canada’s border, failed to ensure food safety, allowed for weaknesses to develop in transport infrastructure, and inadequately reported financial information.
Beyond smokescreens, Poilievre also knows a thing or two about the Senate. As Minister of State for Democratic Reform, he represents a government so willing to reform the upper chamber that it even tried to break the rules in order to do it. Given that Poilievre’s government hasn’t actually passed any legislation to reform the Senate, some argue that they haven’t done enough to encourage reform. This is nonsense! In 2008, the Conservatives appointed Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin, and in 2009 they added Mike Duffy to the group in charge of sober second thought. If not for these appointments, it’s unlikely Canadians would be talking about the Senate at all. Clever work, indeed!
Poilievre aside, some people offered Trudeau congratulations. “Actions speak louder!”, NDP MP Francoise Boivin tweeted, acknowledging that Trudeau’s move went a step further than the NDP’s failed attempt to end partisan activity in the Senate. One newly independent Senator weighed in: “I’m still a strong supporter of Justin Trudeau.” This had to be the best possible result. Following the morning’s events and reactions, it was evident that Trudeau had not only made new friends, but that he had solidified old friendships as well.
In the wake of this earth-shattering news, the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘how will Canada change?’ Just how deep are Prince Trudeau’s reforms, and how will they affect average Canadians in their daily lives? In answering these questions, it is safe to make some assumptions. First, Pierre Poilievre will probably tell us that his government is working on a new bill to reform the Senate. In keeping with his predecessor Tim Uppal’s tradition, there is a chance this bill will see the light of day if King Harper wins re-election in 2019/20. Second, Tom Mulcair will probably try to spin this as an NDP victory. Canadians will let him have it, knowing that he is unlikely to win anything else before his career in federal politics ends. Third, and finally, golden-boy-wonder-Prince Trudeau will put on his best face for a few photos and interviews with the press. Justin will look great, and Canada will… survive.