Senate is needed as check on PMO, Furey says

James McLeod
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Newfoundland and Labrador Senator George Furey wants people to know the Senate is a necessary part of the system, even if it does need to be reformed.

George Furey.

As his colleagues in Ottawa were debating whether to suspend senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin without pay, Furey was in

St. John’s to give a speech about the role of the Senate.

Speaking briefly to reporters, Furey said he believes term limits may be a good reform, but they can’t interfere with the essence of what the Senate does.

“I think they should be long enough that the senators that are appointed do not lose their independence,” he said.

Furey said he believes that in the current system, the Senate is the only meaningful check on the prime minister, because MPs are just “told when to vote and how to vote” and don’t challenge the central authority.

“If you see what’s happening over the last number of years, there’s been a horrific concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.

All of this comes against the backdrop of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau under police investigation for improper expense claims for housing and travel that they didn’t incur.

Friday’s VOCM question of the day had three options — suspend them with pay, suspend them without pay or abolish the senate altogether. Not suspending them at all wasn’t even an option, but that’s what Furey favours.

“What’s actually happening is the Conservative senators have introduced a motion to throw the three senators out without really due process,” he said. “They’ve already been referred to the RCMP for investigation, and our view on the Liberal side is that if you’re going to step up now, we should hold a special committee of the Senate and hold full-blown hearings and give those people ample opportunity to have due process and answer the charges.”

He said it’s a shame the actions of a few senators are driving so many people to call for the institution to be abolished.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Greg
    October 28, 2013 - 08:23

    At least we can vote out politicians and a government we do not like if that is the will of the majority of the people. No one elected George Furey and no one will have an opportunity to vote him out of the Senate.

  • gjnewfie
    October 28, 2013 - 03:25

    Senator Fury is mostly correct in saying M.P's are required to vote party lines. However, as an appointee of a Prime Minister, I'd suggest so are senators. Hence, new P.M.'s re-stack the senate to fulfill their needs. Mr. senator you are wrong! "We the People" are what is required to keep the PMO in check. It's called elections. Senators sell votes to lobbyists ( pronounced ex-politicians) and business exec's to line their pockets. I am required to add that "maybe not all" are corrupt, lol. The actions of a few.... how are things on your planet sir??

  • Mr. Squeaker
    October 27, 2013 - 21:24

    Just like no one needed the Starr Chamber way back when....Abolish the senate seems like a great idea to VOCM listeners, afraid that Bill Rowe will be called to serve. No senate, no way this can happens, Bill stays on the air. The NL NDP are calling to abolish the Canadian Senate. They can't even spell democracy, run their party like an ashram for the politically-retarded, and fear the rightfully fear the Senate reformed will check their silly-minded idealism.

  • Cashin Delaney
    October 27, 2013 - 19:15

    China-Canada FIPA vs Newfoundland, any takers before halloween?, or is the Senate Coup d' tit-for-tat and the NDPeepshow of Horrors just too good not to gnaw down to the gristle right up until Happy Birthday Jesus time? Jesus, it seems lately I only read The Telegram online to confirm what they will not write about, but then get sucked into commenting on some nitwritten opinion column or letter to the editor. Seems like the stupid comments (while hopelessly drunk and stoned) I regret, get posted, while the more sober, sobering ones are omitted. I don't have time to nitpick the comments denied, but I'd like to know one vital stat, in our freedom of information age! How many earnest letters to the editor, concerning FIPA, CETA and NAFTA have been passed over for the infantile racism, nationalism and jingoism of local, unknown, uneducated idiots devoid of a sense of history, or integrity. Then there are those with no excuses, who offend much worse; Rick Hillier (cell phones), and John C "is for Curmudgeon" Crosbie (shale oil). They

  • Elizabeth Hayley
    October 26, 2013 - 10:29

    I agree with keeping the Senate. However, I understand that as Harper has appointed senators he has told them they must support his legislation. That must not be!!! The only way the Senate can prove that it is a useful chamber of sober second thought is to show its independence from the prime minister. Otherwise, it is just a very expensive parroting arm of the pm that Canadians can't afford.

  • Duggan
    October 26, 2013 - 07:54

    Senator Furey is a benficiary of the Senate's biggest flaw - the appointment of polical party loyalists and hacks. He is one of them. If the Senate should be a check against the PMO or House of Commons, why can't average Canadians serve there? At least with the House of Commons and PMO we have the democratic right to vote them out if we choose. We have no choice in who our Senators are and we are dtuck with them until they reach age 75. Abolish the Senate and let George Furey have more time for holf with Brian Tobin and Danny.

  • whynotindpendentmps?
    October 26, 2013 - 07:13

    The problem with this keeping them on for me is that they never should have been collecting a paycheque from taxpayers in the first place. None of them were eligible to be senators because of their residences being outside the province they were to represent. Because Harper appointed them anyway his party should have been paying them and should reimburse tax payers for the full time they have been collecting salaries on our dime.

  • Mark
    October 26, 2013 - 06:51

    I agree with your commentary and the importance of the Senate as a check on the decisions of the office of the PMO. It is unfortunate that many "trusted" government officials, elected into their positions, lack integrity when carrying on work that should be done in the name of the citizens they represent. Canadians are fed up with a system that lacks checks and balances and that does not punish swiftly enough. In the end, it is always the Canadian tax payer that suffers. Term limits for Senators is one option. Electing as opposed to appointing Senators may be another option. Rewarding the PMO's friends with lofty positions in government must end.