X-posted from [personal profile] penlessej.

While the trial for Senator Mike Duffy is underway on Ottawa, another battle is heating up in federal court on the other side of the country. Aniz Alani has requested that the federal court rule on whether or not Prime Minister Stephen Harper's public statements not to appoint any new Senators is unconstitutional. In a reply to federal lawyers seeking to dismiss the case outright, Alani argues that he is not seeking the court to rule against the Crown, but is merely requesting a statement that the Prime Minister is required by the Constitution Act, 1867 to advise the Governor-General on Senatorial appointments within a reasonable time.

The federal government is arguing that the advice the Prime Minister gives to the Governor-General is constitutional convention and thus should not be ruled upon by the federal court, making the reply from Alani mainly about jurisdictional issues.

A question that comes to my mind is whether the Governor-General could reasonably appoint a Senator without the advice of the Prime Minister. It would certainly undermine responsible government to some extent, but would be less dramatic, in my opinion, than dismissing the Prime Minister outright for not giving advice in the first place. At any rate, scandal is being brought against the Crown each day that the Senate remains vacant. I simply cannot bring myself to accept Stephen Harper's implied logic that the Senate exists solely to pass government legislation.


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