Senate Business 3
I was just listenin’ to Rex Murphy on the TV harpin’ about the decorum of the Senate. It used to be that there was “character, conscience an’ dignity” in the chamber. I wondered where he’d got that idea from so I started by readin’ the biography of William Lyon MacKenzie from the early eighteen hundreds. That of course was before the formation of the Canadian Senate. It was also one probable reason for the formation of the Senate – to stop rabble-rousers like him from tippin’ the Tory canoe.
I got a lot more outa that exercise than findin’ or discountin’ decorum. I found that there was really character, conscience and dignity in those times. Them characters had to, in all good conscience, flee the country from time to time to preserve their dignity. The traits Murphy refers to had more to do with the journalists paraphrasin’
about the times than the characters themselves, an’ that’s a fact. Hence the decorum and civility of the members.
Well, once they got all the rules o’ engagement sorted out, the Senate could begin lookin’ after business, the first order of which was to deal with contracts under the old Dominion. That sounded a lot like a bankruptcy hearing to me an’ I’m sure a lot of people (other than the senators) got screwed in the process.
There was a fair bit o’ business to get through. There was the Maritime business with shippin’, lighthouse keepin’ an’ maintenance, a place for distressed sailors to stay an’ be looked after, not to mention the postal system, bankin’ an’ the militia, especially the militia. The thing was that them Americans across the border couldn’t very well be trusted. An’ it’s a good thing too because the Fenians had organized thereselves to take over Manitoba as hostage for the freedom of Ireland from Britain in 1871. Well, not only Manitoba, but elsewhere across the country, but I mention Manitoba ‘cause that was where Louis Riel was operatin’ at the time an’ you know how that ended up. The Fenians by the way never succeeded in any o’ their raids. I don’t know if that says somethin’ for the militia or against the Fenians.
In any case, the Senate was getting’ into the full swing o’ things an’ it looked like they was goin’ to be successful at it. Or at least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.