Denise Batters, congratulations!
You have just won the lottery. The prime minister has appointed you to the Senate, where you will join such esteemed legislators as Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and (if he’s acquitted of all charges pending) Patrick Brazeau.
You will receive a base salary of $132,000 until you are 75, and as you are currently 42, that’s at least $4,356,000. Not to mention the perks that go with the job, such as the living allowance currently in the news thanks to the shenanigans of senators Duffy, Harb and Brazeau.
I should point out before I go much further that I have nothing against Denise Batters. If anyone should be appointed to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, it might as well be Ms. Batters, Regina’s well-known legal stalwart and mental-health advocate.
You could even argue that Ms. Batters is more qualified than Mike Duffy or fellow Saskatchewan senator Pamela Wallin, who were, before they won the lottery, journalists. Now Sen. Duffy sneaks out through the kitchen to avoid journalists, which is indicative of how far he has come.
The sad fact is no one should be appointed to the Senate. Canada, last time I checked, is a democracy, which leads you to wonder why our upper house is made up of appointed, not elected, political bag men, hacks, organizers and other backroom boys and girls. Frank Mahovlich, one of the mandatory retirees being replaced by Ms. Batters, was appointed for being a Toronto Maple Leaf, and he is not the most egregious example of a frivolous appointment. Patrick Brazeau, who has done more to hasten the abolition of the Senate than any dedicated democratic reformer, wins that prize.
But let’s not dwell on individuals. Let’s step back and marvel at the absurdity of the entire circus.
The Senate costs the nation approximately $100 million a year.
It meets for 69 days. How many people do you know who make at least $132K a year to work two days out of 10?
Senators are appointed at the whim of the prime minister. PM Stephen Harper, a longtime advocate of Senate reform (remember the triple-E Senate? Elected? Equal? Effective?), appointed Sen. Brazeau, whose only distinction to date (apart from being the only senator currently facing criminal charges of sexual assault and assault) has been his role as a punching bag for Justin Trudeau.
There are 105 senators. Saskatchewan has six. Prince Edward Island, alleged home province of Sen. Duffy (because for years, he has voted in Ontario), has four. P.E.I. has a population of 140,000. If you feel badly under-represented, how about B.C., which has a senator for every 685,581 citizens?
Fortunately, the Senate is the opposite of Effective, so no one really cares.
We should care. This is a travesty of democracy. It should be abolished, but as that requires a constitutional amendment in the land of Meech Lake and Charlottetown, fuggedaboudit. Ms. Batters, I suspect, will get to enjoy her entire 33-year windfall.