Canadians aren't likely to see home heating fuel rebates — or other measures MPs have pledged to fast track into law before an election — because the Senate will not have enough time to pass the bills, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Leonard Kuchar, chief of staff to Senator Jack Austin, the Government Leader in the Senate, said the Liberals simply do not have the power to rush bills through the Red Chamber on such a short timeline.
“The membership and party structure in the Senate is very different than that in the House of Commons, so there is certainly no guarantee about the fate of these bills if the opposition parties in the House of Commons are determined to seek a rapid and premature dissolution of Parliament,” Mr. Kuchar said yesterday.
Independent Senator Marcel Prud'homme said he has not decided whether he would block unanimous consent should the bills make it to the Senate, but he noted that senators do not like to feel as if they are being pushed around.
“I don't like to work with a knife to your throat and a gun to your head,” he said. The Quebec senator noted that any disgruntled MP could also block unanimous consent when the votes come up in the Commons.
The four bills that were agreed to include legislation giving energy rebates to low-income Canadians facing rising home heating costs; a bill to reverse the onus of proof for those charged with drug offences who have previously been convicted of gang-related crimes; a bill making it easier for first-nations governments to manage oil and gas revenues; and a bill aimed at protecting pensions when companies go bankrupt.
What can the Liberals do during a cold winter campaign when heating bills go through the roof and voters' tempers with them? Blame the Senate, most of whose members the Chretien-Martin regime has appointed, for killing the $250 energy rebate?
Rarely does the Senate show itself to be effective. But when it does, it shows the indispensibility of a second chamber in preventing the House from running roughshod with every crazy pre-election bribe and scheme.
I just wish we had a different form of Senate instead of this appointed anachronism to check the House.
Source: Globe and Mail