Harper gives Salma Ataullahjan the final seat in the Senate

On Friday, the PMO announced that Stephen Harper had filled the last vacant Senate seat by appointing Salma Ataullahjan as Senator for the Province of Ontario. According to the press release from the PMO, Ms. Ataullahjan has subscribed to the boilerplate agreement which states that:

"She has also pledged to support the Government in its efforts to make the Senate more democratic and accountable, including legislation to limit Senate tenure and to allow provinces to elect their Senators."

Mr. Harper has now basically taken control of the Senate which appeared poised last week to make changes to the controversial omnibus Bill C-9 which is about to be voted on in the red chamber. As it stands now, that is much less likely to happen. Very clever Mr. Harper, very clever indeed. It’s always reassuring to know that you have the best interests of Canadians at heart.

Yes Mr. Harper, we know, you really want that Triple E (equal, elected and effective) Senate from back in the good old days when you were the chief policy director for the Reform Party. You say it time after time and year after year but, after nearly 4 and a half years in power, you never really seem to do anything about it with the exception of appointing 34 Senators. Yes, we know that it takes constitutional reform to change the Senate but at least make some symbolic movement in that direction if that is your intention and your conviction.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Ms. Ataullahjan other than the fact that she was a failed Conservative Party candidate in the riding of Mississauga – Brampton South in the 2008 federal election where she lost by nearly 7000 votes out of 44,000 votes cast to Liberal MP Navdeep Bains. She is a realtor and has a diploma in computer operations. She has been a good donor to the CPC having donated $720 in 2008 along with $500 toward her own campaign in 2008. Apparently, she is an effective spokesperson for the Pakistani community in Ontario and she has "earned her reputation as one who both stands against violence and stands for peaceful dialogue and consensus building." (a quote from the PMO’s press release). After all, we know that the Conservatives are all about peaceful dialogue and consensus building, don’t we John Baird?

What I do have against this appointment is what I’ve had against all of Mr. Harper’s Senate appointments – they are appointments! This is a man who spent much of his time as President of the National Citizen’s Coalition (NCC) railing against the use of the Senate as a perquisite for Prime Ministerial pals. In fact, here’s a quote from Mr. Harper back in 1997 when he was Vice President of the NCC. He gave this speech in Montreal back in 1997 as Vice President of the National Citizen’s Coalition to the the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank:

"…Of our two Legislative houses, the Senate, our upper house, is appointed, also by the Prime Minister, where he puts buddies, fundraisers and the like. So the Senate is also not very important in our political system."

Apparently, life does imitate speeches! But regrettably, he is right, the Senate can’t be all that important considering who was selected by Mr. Harper as one of the Senators representing Atlantic Canada.

I guess if it’s consistency Canadians are looking for in their politicians, our current Prime Minister gets a failing grade. Maybe even a triple "F".

Click HERE to read more of Glen Allen’s columns.

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4 Comments

  1. I am a Pakistani and I have not heard of her until now. I do not live in Mississauga or Brampton but vaguely remember there was some Pakistani woman running. I am very proud that a Pakistani woman has been appointed, but I am just afracomment_ID that she is not the best person and it does not do our community justice. Are there not more educated Pakistani women who what the issues are in your own community and the mainstream?

  2. I am sure there are more educated women, in fact I know many who are, but likely they are not conservative. Prof Bokhari would be amazing, she has served the public and is highly educated, just as one small example.

    Frankly, I cannot stand real estate agents, they have too much time on their hands, and dont trust them. No wonder she is running for PC. Has this woman worked in the community? Does she know what is happening? Has she volunteered? Has she donated? Has she spoken out on issues? Never heard of her much less her speaking out on issues. Who is this person and why would the PM choose her? That has not been clear. Is she just a sure easy blind supporter of the PM who will not have a mind of her own? I guess that is why they dont conscomment_IDer education when making such appointments.

  3. It was a pleasure hearing from the prime minister, about Salma Ataullahjan as a senator; we should be proud and honour, that the fist Canadian Pakistani and (Pashtoon) women has granted such a post. She is such a nice leady, with respected and well known political bag round family. She must be a great assist for both the party and the public.

  4. During the period she had been in the community, I found her reliable, honest, regular, punctual, intelligent, trustworthy, and a hardworking indivcomment_IDual. Her tireless effort and organizational skills are essential for our continuing success in the politic.

    She must introduce such a mechanism in the parliament that would be the best for the government and the public, while keeping the best option for the immigrant for mutual benefit. We value people like her, who are willing to take their time to help us serve our community better. I wish her all the best, every success in her future life, and looking forward to seeing her in Canadian parliament.

    Yours truly,

    Usman Zay

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