OTTAWA—A day after stunning many Western Conservatives with the appointment of a party organizer to the Senate and then to cabinet, Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to soothe their feelings, suggesting the Tories may hold Senate elections in conjunction with the next federal vote.(link)
He's forgetting the obvious problem - Emerson. The senate vote is appreciated - however not neccessary as far as I'm concerned. We had forewarnings that Harper may do something like this when he appointed Josee Verner from Quebec to be a member of his shadow cabinet despite not being elected. She was given an MP's salary and all the perks provided by the party. The appointment was to be temporary until she was elected to office. I agreed with her appointment then, and thought it was a brilliant move on Harper's part to expand the profile of the pary in Quebec. She is now an elected MP from Quebec, so I guess the strategy you could say has paid off with 10 new Quebec MPs.
Fortier's situation is markedly different. Harper's using a senate appointment to do the same thing so that Fortier can take a minister's portfolio and awnser questions in the house. I revolt the idea of having taxpayers pay for this - this is something that the party should be paying for itself. Fortier's salary should come straight from our overflowing Conservative treasure chest. It should not come from taxpayers back pockets. Also, the fact that they are using a senate appointment to do this enters into a certain amount of moral fuziness when it comes to Harper's pledge to elect Senators and not appoint them.
And again, this whole issue forgets Emerson. That political opportunist should not be a Conservative without winning a nomination of Conservative members in his riding. Harper should've known well enough, that he could have drastically improved the situation morally, by asking that Emerson sit in Cabinet not as a Conservative, but as a Liberal. Such appointments have been made in the past in so-called "unity-cabinets" during war time in Canada. If Emerson had sat as a Liberal, understanding that he was there for the Olympic games, then Canadians, and Conservatives would be willing to accept this.
But given that Emerson made a complete turn around in parties - this is morally wrong. His constituents hired a Liberal, so they should get one. And Conservatives never hired Emerson to represent their banner in Vancouver, so they shouldn't have to live it.
Harper's got one extra Cabinet minister that is questionably loyal to him. Obviously he never quite learned from his Stronach experience at all.