Chris Hall: “Senate abolition a non-starter despite Mulcair’s push”

Chris Hall of the CBC throws a wet blanket on the policy of abolishing the Senate in this analysis on cbc.ca: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/senate-abolition-a-non-starter-despite-mulcair-s-push-1.3108540

Mr. Hall correctly notes that it will take the approval of the Federal Government and all 10 Provinces in order to abolish the Senate, and based on the current policies of the Provinces declares the idea a “non-starter”. But just because changing something is difficult, or even seems impossible when you start, does that mean you shouldn’t try to do it, even when you believe in it strongly?

In my view, Mr. Hall’s description of Mr. Mulcair’s policy on the Senate as “sloganeering and feel-good promises that have little if any chance of being delivered” is unfair and cynical.

My understanding is that Mr. Mulcair is promising to “work towards” abolishing the Senate; he is not promising to abolish the Senate. This is an important distinction to make. If you truly want to determine whether someone has kept their promises, you have to know what they actually promised.

There is certainly a risk that the debate on Senate abolition devolves into mere sloganeering and feel-good promises. It could happen if a leader or candidate actually claims that they single-handedly will abolish the Senate. Arguably, the already-used contention that the Senate is required for regional balance is a feel-good promise. But the NDP position, measured and cautious as it is, does not fit Mr. Hall’s description.

I would be interested to see if Mr. Mulcair has anywhere actually promised to abolish the Senate. It may seem like semantics to some, but these details and specifics matter. It is the little differences like this that provide an understanding of what is being said, or whether anything is being said at all.

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