Saturday July 25, 2015

In House panel: mid-summer messaging

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a moratorium on Senate appointments while speaking in Saskatchewan Friday.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a moratorium on Senate appointments while speaking in Saskatchewan Friday. (Mark Taylor/Canadian Press)

Listen 8:26

Prime Minister Stephen took a strong stance on the future of the Senate Friday — well, sort of.

"It's almost a position of benign neglect," In House panelist Mark Kennedy says of Harper's vow to not appoint any more senators before reforms are made.

"Some will argue it's a position of trying to abolish the Senate through the back door, and some will argue that it's constitutionally unsound. We'll see where it goes."

Either way, Harper's stance is a win for his party politically, Tasha Kheiriddin says.

"The Prime Minister had to stake out a position, the election is looming. The Conservative base has been saying for years...that the Senate had to be reformed. They're expecting some action on this."

"It's popular and it's populist and I have no doubt it will help the Prime Minister get some votes, but it will be years before we know the impact of this on the Senate," Kennedy adds.

The future of the Senate wasn't the only messaging coming from the Conservatives this week.

The roll-out of the government's $3 billion Universal Child Care Benefit plan was touted as an early Christmas present for nearly 4 million Canadian families.

But because the bonuses are all taxable, how much money are parents actually getting in their bank accounts?

"It's morphing from a Christmas Story to Bad Santa," Kheiriddin says. 

"I think a lot of people are looking at this and doing the math and thinking, 'how much am I actually getting?'"

But, she adds, "I think a lot of people will like it."

As the political landscape shifts and party fortunes rise and fall, our In House panel is here to tackle the Conservatives' mid-summer messaging.

Tasha Kheiriddin is a columnist for iPolitics and the National Post, and Mark Kennedy is the Parliamentary bureau chief for the Ottawa Citizen.