There is now a more thoughtful method in place to appoint Canadian Senators, one that doesn’t depend only on partisan activities. But apparently this even-handed selection process has not altered the culture of the upper chamber. Its members remain as self-serving and sanctimonious as ever. Imagine, striking special medals for themselves and a few of their friends. Why would they want to look like bespangled generals who have just carried out a coup in some emerging country?
It’s not as if Senators don’t have enough perquisites already. Annual salaries are approaching $150,000 a year plus a generous pension. Leaders, whips and committee chairs make even more. Each Senator gets an office and staff in Ottawa. Fifty free round-trip flights a year. There’s also subsidized haircuts plus free mailing and picture framing not to mention meals in the Parliamentary restaurant where a well-aged steak costs bupkis. A special bus shuttles them back and forth to the parking lot that’s a mere ten-minute walk away. Expenses are fully reimbursed; many Senators claim $10,000-$20,000 per quarter. And there’s no prohibition against collecting professional fees as consultants or corporate directors.
Nor is there a dearth of medals and other honours already on offer. There’s the Order of Canada to which more than 6,000 people have been invested. In 2012 some 60,000 Canadians who do good deeds in their community received a medal on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen’s ascenion to the throne. A senator might have trouble giving away her twelve publicly-paid-for special medals because so many folks have already been festooned by government fiat.
After the trials and tribulations of Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Mac Harb and Patrick Brazeau you’d think the Senate would be wise to just keep its nose clean. All those medals glistening on their lapels just draw fresh attention to their continuing lavish behaviour.