MP blames group’s Liberal-heavy makeup
By Rob Peters
<a href=http://www.peacearchnews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=44&cat=23&id=1023358&more=0>Black Press</a>
Jul 10 2007
Senate slow to act
The Liberal-dominated Senate is preventing Canadians from “getting what they voted for,” according to Conservative MP Russ Hiebert (South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale).
Hiebert last week identified four pieces of legislation that were approved in Parliament but didn’t get a senatorial stamp of approval. He blames the holdup on the high number of Liberals currently in Senate.
However, local Liberal candidate and Surrey city Coun. Judy Higginbotham said Hiebert is “simplifying” the issue.
“(Hiebert) is a newcomer,” she said. “He hasn’t had as much experience as me... It’s very complicated.”
Hiebert said he’s particularly concerned about Bills C-10 and C-22, legislation that would impose mandatory sentences for gun crimes and raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16.
“We brought forward this legislation because Canadians wanted it, and they’re preventing it,” Hiebert said.
The Canadian Senate is currently composed of 61 Liberals, 23 Conservatives, three Progressive Conservatives, and five independents. There are 13 vacancies. Appointments last until age 75.
“Historically, Liberal prime ministers have appointed their friends and rewarded their supporters with positions in the Senate. We want to change that. We think it should be an elected body. It’s one of the only upper chambers in a western democracy that’s not elected,” Hiebert said.
Higginbotham said the Senate is just doing its job.
“Does Russ Hiebert expect them to rubber stamp these bills?” she said. “He’s trying to jump the line. You have to allow the process to take its course.”
Higginbotham said she agrees in concept with some of the legislation proposed, but the Senate needs to further debate and fine-tune the bills.
“These bills are not without controversy,” she said. “The Senate’s job is to review legislation, and it’s doing that.”
Higginbotham noted that Conservatives have also made partisan appointments to the Senate, and that Mulroney “put in a lot of Conservative senators to get the GST through.”
“What they are trying to do is stifle debate,” she said. “I think the Senate is doing its job.”
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