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What would the Senate do?

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NDP Leader Jack Layton raised an interesting conundrum for the Conservatives this afternoon.

The Conservatives have complained for years that the Senate has stymied their legislative plans and blocked legislation passed by the "elected" House of Commons.

The Senate, the Conservatives argued, was stacked with Liberals, who purposely voted against Conservative legislation even though it was the democratic will of the elected house.

But now the Conservatives have a plurality in the Senate and aren’t far from a majority and Layton suggested Harper’s hand picked Senators will not pass any gun registry reforms.

He brought it up because there is the possibility the three opposition parties – which collectively have a majority of seats – may try this fall to pass some sort of reforms to the gun registry if Manitoba MP Candice Hoeppner’s bill to scrap the registry fails as expected tomorrow.

It’s always been somewhat rich for any government to complain the Senate isn’t just rubber stamping the House’s legislation. The Senate is not there to just do whatever the House wants even if the Senate isn’t elected and the House is. It’s supposed to be the chamber of sober second thought, where decisions can be made without the influence of partisan considerations like that nuisance of having to be re-elected.

Of course it’s a pipe dream to think that is really the case as partisan politics infects the Senate at every turn.

But in a good for the goose and gander type argument it will be interesting to see if the Conservative Senate is asked to pass reforms to the gun registry that do not include abolishing it, what will happen.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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