Prime Minister too powerful: Canadians

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The Langevin Block (on right), home of the Prime Minister's Office, looms over the Parliament buildings. Parliament remains prorogued until March 3rd.

According to a recent poll conducted by Nanos Research, 42% of Canadians think the Prime Minister’s Office has too much power  (Campbell Clark, “PMO too powerful, Canadians say,” Globe and Mail, 24 February 2010). Nine percent of Canadians think that the PMO has too little power, while 40% responded that it has the right amount.

By comparison, only 33% of Canadians feel that the Senate has too much power and only 13% think the House of Commons has too much power.

The Prime Minister and other members of his party have repeatedly called for an elected rather than appointed Senate. But that position hasn’t stopped him from appointing 33 Senators (32 of whom are still sitting)–all Conservatives–since he took office four years ago. As a result, the Conservative Party, which received 37.6% of the vote in the last election and currently sits at about 33% in the polls, now occupies approximately half of the seats in the Senate. This will bring the upper house of Parliament under the Prime Minister’s control once the new session of Parliament begins.

Liberal Prime Ministers also made a practice of stacking the Senate with their supporters, but they occasionally appointed members of other parties as well. Among the 17 Senate appointments made by Paul Martin during his two years in office, for example, were three Conservatives, one Progressive Conservative, and one New Democrat.

Photo by Mikey G Ottawa

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