Political Traction: Senate reaches tipping point

Jaime Watt takes a weekly look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians on CBC's Power & Politics. This week: Senate issues approach a tipping point and Pope Benedict's resignation sparks Canada's interest.

Political Traction

9 years ago
Jaime Watt tracks the political buzz over recent controversies around the Senate, Ontario's legislature returning to business, and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI 7:37

Jaime Watt joins CBC News Networks' Power & Politics host Evan Solomon each week to look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians.

Political Traction with Navigator's Jamie Watt appears weekly on Power & Politics. (CBC)

Monitoring the House of Commons' question period, mainstream media and the conversation on social media, Watt and his team at Navigator Ltd. determine which issues gained the most attention in official Ottawa, and then measure how much traction those issues managed to find with Canadians outside the nation's capital.

This week: Controversy over senators' expenses and primary residences dominated the conversation in Ottawa.

Watt says the issue gained attention partly because the high profile of some of the senators in question, such as Saskatchewan's Pam Wallin and P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy.

Senate reform has been an ongoing issue in Ottawa for years, but Watt believes actual change may be on the horizon.

"It sure is looking to me like this might be a tipping point," Watt said.

The NDP are pushing for abolishment of the Senate, but Watt says NDP Leader Tom Mulcair should fine tune his party's argument and approach.

"I'd take advantage of the fact that the NDP is the only party that doesn't have any members sitting in the Senate and I'd start taking my attack and making it more political."

Since there aren't any NDP senators, Watt says the NDP have a powerful opportunity to criticize the Conservatives for allegations of Senate wrongdoing.

Pope's resignation sparks Canada's attention

Canadians are intrigued by the pope and the Vatican, which they see as a closed-off institution shrouded in secrecy, according to Watt.

But after Pope Benedict's resignation, Canadians quickly moved on to other issues.

If a Canaidan becomes the next pope, or if an African or Asian pope takes Benedict's place, Watt says traction on this issue will once again skyrocket.