Provincial NDP Leader Mike Redmond, left, and Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair speak with reporters outside the Loyalist Lakeview Resort in Summerside on Saturday. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair brought his party’s anti-Senate message back to the Island Saturday.
Mulcair was in Prince Edward Island as the guest speaker for the P.E.I. Federation Of Labour’s 49th annual convention.
His speech to the delegates and interview with reporters afterwards touched on many topics, but the Leader of the Official Opposition never ventured far from talking about the Senate, whether that was the Prime Minister’s handling of the Senate scandal, the scandal itself or his party’s intention to abolish the upper house.
This single issue has dominated talk in Ottawa of late, with each day turning another page in the increasingly convoluted story of P.E.I. senator Mike Duffy and two other Conservative appointees: Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
But for Mulcair and his party, this tale can only end one way.
“The senate is a body that is a vague imitation of the British House of Lords – a place for privileged people who’ve never been elected,” said Mulcair.
“We’re not trying to take anything away from an individual, but when we see scandals, when we see unaccountability, when we see the Mike Duffys of this world – we are reminded that this is a place for unelected, unaccountable officials and it should be gotten rid of,” he said.
He also tried to assuage the fears of some on P.E.I. who have said that the loss of the senate would mean less representation for the Island in Ottawa.
Under the Constitution P.E.I. is guaranteed four MPs and four senators.
Mulcair has said that under an NDP government, P.E.I. would maintain its number of MPs, regardless of what happens to the Senate.
This line of talk should be a familiar refrain for Islanders as it was only a little over a month ago that Mulcair brought his anti-senate “Roll Up The Red Carpet,” campaign here.
But since his last visit here the Senate scandal has grown exponentially, with Duffy implicating Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the whole affair, amongst other revelations.
A heated debate is currently ongoing in the Senate on whether to expel the three implicated senators.
Some of their colleagues in the Upper House, both Liberal and Conservative, want the three to be allowed to keep their jobs until such time as they are convicted of a crime, while others want them thrown out immediately.
When asked Saturday which of those two specific options he would back if he was Prime Minister, Mulcair played coy, avoiding the question by returning to his abolition stance.
“I think getting rid of three senators is a good start. But the NDP would get rid of all of them. We think there is no reason to keep the senate. It’s undemocratic. Canada is a democratic country,” he said.
Provincial NDP Leader Mike Redmond added that Islanders now more than ever understand the pitfalls of the Senate and the need for it to be dismantled.
“It’s time for it to go, we know that more than anybody. We need elected people to work in our government,” he said.