If Trudeau wants to avoid allowing obvious, pointed questions to fester and undermine the momentum he has captured on Senate reform, he should now do four things to clarify the decidedly vague promises he has made to establish a new appointment process, and to make at least some of the other Senate changes that the Supreme Court of Canada rules Parliament can do alone.
In the world of Canadian politics, 2013 was one of those years where interesting things seemed perennially on the brink of happening, but rarely did. 2014, in short, will be a year that spends a lot of time providing closure to the unanswered questions of 2013. My guess is there'll be a lot of "no's." Here are some predictions.
Stephen Harper's problem is that he thinks too small. No short-term partisan advantage is too minute for him to pursue and no long-term challenge facing the country is too large for him to ignore. By contrast, we need national leaders who will think forward and think big; who will govern intelligently and respectfully; who will call for a new federalism for the 21st century.
Surely Canadians can spot the difference between a Mike Duffy and a Romeo Dallaire, or between a Pamela Wallin and Muriel Ferguson! The quality of character and intelligence in Senator Hugh Segal simply dwarfs the rather sad record of Patrick Brazeau. The average citizen can sense the distinction a kilometre away. We often forget just how many great Senators have kept rampant politics at bay through reasoned and compelling arguments that often put the present House of Commons to shame. Let's leave the Duffys et al to their fate and consider the others who did our government proud.
Another week of the Duffy scandal has come to a close on the Hill. It is an issue that both politicians and the public love to talk about and there is no doubt that in the short term; there will be a cost to the Conservative brand and to the Prime Minister's reputation. It won't get any easier from this point going forward.
Canada's Senate has had a grounded history and its occasional failures were never enough to deflect its effectiveness in the long haul. The great tragedy of recent years is that people have been appointed to undertake the dirty work of parties when it would have been better to keep such shenanigans in the House where partisanship has a role. Politics is killing the Senate; professionalism, cooperation and merit can save it, and our reasoned legislative system in the process.