Senate pension legislation just pandering, says UPEI professor

By Ally Harris
March 6, 2014

A federal plan to prevent suspended senators from accumulating pension time is a classic example of pandering, says a political science professor at UPEI.
Don Desserud said the Conservatives are simply trying to make themselves look good by adding the law to the new budget.
“They’re not serious constitutional solutions. They are not addressing any of the real problems. (It) means nothing in the grand scheme of things.”
All the legislation will do is provide temporary satisfaction to those who are angry with the Senate, said Desserud.
“In the long run, it’s not going to restore confidence in the Senate.”
However, because none of the suspended senators were ever charged with a criminal offence, Desserud said the move isn’t entirely fair – not that it matters to the Conservatives.
“When you’re pandering, you don’t care about (being fair).
It is unlikely anyone will voice their concerns about the fairness of the legislation, he said.
“No one’s going to stand up for the senators and senators aren’t going to get anywhere if they try to fight it.”
Independent Liberal senator Joseph Day agreed the legislation was a message to the public.
“It’s more than pandering, but it’s certainly reacting to what the public is expecting.”
Day said he voted against the suspensions and believes the whole process is unfair.
“You should never suspend someone on a rumour,” he said.
“I felt there was not due process. There wasn’t an opportunity for someone to be innocent until proven otherwise.”
The legislation does not have much to back it up, he said.
“(It) is building on a weak foundation.”
When the proposed legislation was announced, it didn’t say if the pension ineligibility would be retroactive to the start of the suspension.
It should be retroactive, said Day.
“If I were suspended, I would not expect to receive a pension.”