At Conservative Convention, Tories mull future of Senate

Photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper from Conservative Convention website
It's time for Canadians to decide on the future of the Senate, Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier said at the Conservative convention today. According to Bernier, this referendum should take place in the Spring of 2014.  During the convention, a motion to defund the CBC was also made, but defeated. 
 
His position is consistent with what he is hearing both from his constituents and from delegates at the Conservative party's biennial conference in Calgary, he said. In an interview yesterday with La Presse, Bernier said, "I think it's time to ask Canadians what to do with the Senate to reform or abolish it." 
 
The Senate scandal has cast a cloud over this week's Conservative convention in Calgary.
 
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is supportive of the idea, as are numerous delegates at convention. According to a presentation at the Manning Centre by Frontier Centre for Public Policy analyst Robert Murray, however, some sort of sober second thought is a good thing. Of the Senate scandal, Murray said "the more the responsibility gets dodged, the worse it gets. The best thing [Prime Minister Harper] can do is take responsibility."
 
In the latest of news on the evolving Senate scandal, the RCMP laid out fraud and breach of trust allegations against Senator Pamela Wallin this morning. According to court documents filed October 28, Wallin used her Toronto condo “as her primary residence” for “functions outside the scope of her Senate duties”. These allegations are likely to add the cloud over this week's convention. 
 
Prime Minister Harper appointed Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau and the scandal has endured for nearly a year. 
 
Numerous polls have showed that the Senate scandal is causing damage to Conservative Party's reputation. A recent Ipsos poll puts the CPC third place in voting intentions. Nearly three-quarters of Canadians feel that Harper is lying about his role in the Senate scandal; a further two-thirds believe he has mismanaged the issue. 
 
Tonight, Prime Minister Harper will address the 3,000 delegates at convention and all eyes will be on how he handles himself at this critical moment for the party. 
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