Erin O’Toole will have to turn it up when running against Niki Ashton

Chantal Hébert’s most recent column for TSN, “Hébert proposes changes to the Senate in Ernie Eves light”, held that the current system is “out of control”. Hébert pointed out that as an MLA, she…

Erin O'Toole will have to turn it up when running against Niki Ashton

Chantal Hébert’s most recent column for TSN, “Hébert proposes changes to the Senate in Ernie Eves light”, held that the current system is “out of control”. Hébert pointed out that as an MLA, she had been “Mr. Red Tory” in her floor crossing from the PCs to the Tories in 2001. After the floor crossing, she supported Ed Stelmach as premier, but she also said during a recent interview that she voted against Tory bills when she was an MLA for the NDP.

Hébert highlights some former cabinet ministers from Alberta and Quebec who have declined to sign up for Eves’ ticket, and repeats a line about how, “Canadians might be surprised to learn that my party prefers a filibuster-proof Senate where a clear majority in each chamber is needed for legislation to pass.” She goes on to address Eves, saying that he has not sat in the Senate and is therefore not knowledgeable of the Senate’s rules. She quotes comments he has made about Senate bills in the past – like his push for the bill dealing with auto insurance. Hébert asks, “Does that, then, mean he opposes legislation that many Canadians could have some interest in? It’s hard to believe that opposition to this bill is not a clear sign that Mr. Eves does not understand the Senate system and that he is out of touch with the people he represents.”

READ MORE: What Erin O’Toole will be up against: Part 1

She also quotes O’Toole saying that, “in these modern times, it’s time for the Senate to be modernized.” Hébert feels that the quote is misleading because O’Toole does support some changes to the Senate and says that he should campaign on those views. Hébert highlights that once the word “modernization” is added to the discussion, O’Toole will already be on the defensive.

Is Hébert right in her assertion that, “Mr. Eves would like to return to the days when senators voted on bills with only a majority threshold, like in the days when my party carried the day?” Hébert concludes her column by saying that he may be part of the problem rather than part of the solution, and that he should be careful with his public commentary on Senate reform. Hébert also reminds us of Stelmach’s missteps on the Senate and concludes, “What we need now is a way for Mr. Eves and his party to clarify the Senate issue without appearing to be anything but old, old, and old hat.”

READ MORE: Erin O’Toole will have to turn it up when running against Niki Ashton

Not everyone is convinced that these remarks are the result of Eves and O’Toole having something to hide, and may be the result of their own inadequacies to appear reasonable. Among the many comments that Hébert found, she stated that Stelmach told CBC radio last October that he “opposed the Senate rule of having a majority threshold for legislation passing”.

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