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August 29th, 2013

Reality Check: Stephen Harper’s patronage appointments; the failed candidate edition

It should come as no surprise that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives reward their donors, failed candidates and insider friends with appointments to high places.

Ever since forming government in 2006, the Harper Conservatives have been stacking the Social Security Tribunal, various Port Authorities, VIA Rail, Parole Boards, Employment Insurance Board of Referees and, of course, the Senate.

And of the 59 Senators Harper has appointed, ten of them were defeated Conservative candidates.

  1. Michael MacDonald – appointed January 2, 2009. MacDonald ran for the Conservatives in Cape Breton-East Richmond in both 1988 and 2004 before landing in Canada’s Senate.
  2. Fabian Manning – appointed initially January 2, 2009, however the position wasn’t good enough for him. He resigned on March 28, 2011 to run in Avalon, where he served previously as MP from 1999-2005. Following his defeat round two, he was reappointed to the Senate May 25, 2011.
  3. John Wallace – appointed January 2, 2009. Wallace ran for the Conservatives in Saint John, in 2006, but after failing to win over voters, was appointed to the Senate.
  4. Yonah Martin – appointed in January 2, 2009. Martin ran for the Conservative Party in 2008 and was defeated by former New Democrat MP Dawn Black, in a seat currently held by NDP MP Fin Donnelly. In addition to failing to convince voters she would be a representative for them in Ottawa, Martin failed to follow Elections Canada spending limits, overspending by almost $8,000. But that wasn’t enough to stop Stephen Harper from appointing her to the Senate.
  5. Claude Carignan – appointed by August 27, 2009. Carignan was a candidate in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for the Conservatives, but wasn’t able to convince voters he should represent them in Ottawa.
  6. Don Meredith – appointed December 18, 2010. Meredith ran for the Conservatives in the 2008 by election in Toronto Centre, placing fourth after the Liberal, New Democrat and Green Candidates.
  7. Larry Smith – appointed to the Senate December 18, 2010. Shortly after his appointment, he announced his intention to run for nomination in Lac-Saint-Louis saying that being a senator he would be taking a “dramatic, catastrophic” pay cut as a Senator. After losing the 2011 election he was reappointed to the Senate on May 25, 2011.
  8. Josée Verner – appointed June 13, 2011. Verner ran in 2004 and 2006 in Louis-Saint-Laurent for the Conservatives where she was finally elected, however her time as an MP was short lived. She lost in 2011 but won the consolation prize of an appointment to the Senate.
  9. Salma Ataullahjan – appointed July 9, 2012. Like those before her, Ataullahjan was a candidate in Mississauga-Brampton South for the Conservatives and lost, thus her reward of a lovely Senate appointment.
  10. Jean-Guy Dagenais – appointed January 17, 2012. Dagenais ran in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, losing to New Democrat, Marie-Claude Morin.

Instead of keeping his promise to never appoint unelected senators and clean up patronage, Stephen Harper has ensured his friends get lucrative jobs while the Senate is filled with partisans who put the Conservative Party ahead of the interests of Canadians.

Canadians deserve better – and know they can only trust the NDP to fix the mess left by Conservative and Liberal Senators.