Appointments come under fire

  • May. 20, 2011 7:00 a.m.

The appointment of three failed election candidates to the Senate is drawing some high-profile criticism.

Darrel Stinson, former Okanagan-Shuswap MP, disagrees with Prime Minister Stephen Harper naming three individuals to Parliament’s upper chamber Wednesday.

“I’m not for appointments to the Senate. The only way to get a fair analysis of issues is if they are elected by the people,” said Stinson.

The three senators had all sought seats in the House of Commons during the May 2 election, but their bids were unsuccessful.

Two of them had previously been senators but they had resigned those positions so they could run in the election.

A long-standing policy of the Conservative Party has been an elected Senate, but Harper has made a number of appointments since becoming prime minister.

Stinson admits the perception is not good.

“I understand that he needs a majority to pass bills but it should still be an elected Senate,” said Stinson.

“I don’t know why he has done this. If I was talking to Stephen, I’d tell him it needs to be elected.”

Current MP Colin Mayes was unavailable for comment on the Senate appointments, but he welcomes the new federal cabinet named by Harper Wednesday.

Most ministers are retaining positions they held prior to the election.

“We want to make sure that a lot of government strategies have continuity,” said Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap MP.

“The people there based in the planning can continue with the execution (of strategy).”

Among those maintaining duties are Peter MacKay in defence, Rob Nicholson in justice, Vic Toews in public safety, Bev Oda at the Canadian International Development Agency, Jim Flaherty in finance and Leona Aglukkaq in health.

John Baird, who was House leader, takes on foreign affairs minister from Lawrence Cannon, who lost his seat in the election.

“John Baird is very capable and knowledgeable,” said Mayes.

There were six vacancies because of retirements or election losses.

“That definitely was a challenge,” said Mayes.

“In B.C., we had seasoned ministers in Chuck Strahl and Stockwell Day so those are big shoes to fill.”

Among the new cabinet ministers are Steve Blaney in veterans affairs, Joe Oliver in natural resources, Tim Uppal in democratic reform and Alice Wong in seniors.

Mayes, who was elected to a third term May 2, is not disappointed that he wasn’t appointed to cabinet.

“There’s a number of people who are very capable of holding positions that can’t make the cut because they are from a province that’s well represented in the party,” he said.

“I had no expectation that I’d be appointed.”