I read with interest your news article on the front page of The Weekend St. John’s Telegram by reporter James McLeod, with regard to our six Newfoundland and Labrador Senators, “3 + 3 = $2 million*.” No doubt the item was well researched and the numbers are reasonably accurate. However, much is omitted from a true picture.
You should also realize that, with regards to the Senate, and with the exception of George Baker (who wasn’t appointed by Stephen Harper), St. John’s and the Avalon Peninsula is the only place that is part of Canada.
Shame! I thought that the House of Commons, the Lower House, was representation by population and the Upper Chamber, the Senate, had a different role to play: to represent the provinces. The Avalon Peninsula, a peninsula in southeastern Newfoundland, is joined to the main part of the island by a six-kilometre-wide isthmus between Placentia and Trinity bays and extends for about 9,220 square kilometres.
Newfoundland and Labrador is 405,212 square kilometres. Therefore, the Avalon Peninsula is approximately 2.3 per cent the size of the province as whole. If one considered only the northeast Avalon vs. the rest of the province, then the percentage would shrink to a mere fraction of one per cent.
Some readers of your paper might say, “So that’s what those six buggers are doing up in Ottawa … spending $2 million a year of our hard-earned money … smart buggers, aren’t they?’
Four out of six were appointed by Harper, one, appointed twice; all from the Avalon, none from Labrador, none from central or western Newfoundland. So much for the “triple E” Senate that Preston Manning once talked about.
The Constitution Act outlines the qualifications of senators: individuals must be both citizens of Canada and at least 30 years of age to be eligible for appointment to the Senate. Senators must also maintain residency in the provinces or territories for which they are appointed.
Only Quebec currently has a share of senators approximately proportional to its share of the total population. Quebec senators are the only ones to be assigned to specific districts within their province.
Everyone knew Mike Duffy hadn't lived in P.E.I. for many years, and Pamela Wallin, representing Saskatchewan, holds an Ontario health card.
In other words, if they were elected, like MPs and MHAs, they would be considered parachute candidates.
But in this province, we have Newfoundland senator Norm Doyle from St. John’s, taking a Senate seat away from Labrador when Bill Rompkey retired, and St. John’s-based David Wells taking a seat away from western Newfoundland when Ethel Cochrane retired, who was from Lourdes on the Port au Port Peninsula.
Currently there are five out of six senators from St. John’s or the Avalon area, four of whom were appointed by Harper.
To top that off, our federal cabinet representative for Newfoundland and Labrador is now Peter MacKay from Nova Scotia.
Even Newfoundland Liberal MP Judy Foote lives in St. John’s, although her riding is Random–Burin–St. George's, not even close to St. John’s.
I’m not forgetting, of course, the two NDP MPs, Jack Harris and Ryan Cleary.
They drive eight hours round trip to Gander Airport each week in order to support their base (union buddies on the picket line at St. John’s airport), while accusing the Conservatives of playing to their base on gun control. They, therefore, use Gander Airport as a stopgap!
Do they claim their car mileage to and from St. John’s? Also, Air Canada’s market out of Gander is much more expensive than St. John’s, their closest airport. Since it is too dangerous to drive after dark, thus, the need to stay at hotels in Gander — remember Ryan Cleary vs. a moose in Terra Nova National Park last October?
Terry Burry writes from Glovertown.