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Wednesday, December 31, 2008 

Academic Says Pamela Wallin Does NOT Meet Residency Requirements - Should NOT Be Appointed Senator 'From Saskatchewan'!

There are times when I feel like a voice in the wilderness - yammering for justice and honesty in my home province of Saskatchewan. Recently, I published a post pointing out that Stephen Harper's choice of Pamela Wallin as a Senator 'from Saskatchewan' was ridiculous, considering that she had not lived in the province for over 29 years.

Right wingers came rushing to Harper's defense by pointing out that Ms. Wallin apparently owns some gopher breeding acres somewhere in the province and they claimed that this was good enough. NONSENSE!

Now, a noted academic has come forward arguing that Ms. Wallin simply does not meet residency requirements by ANY measuring stick. She has not lived in the province long enought to vote in either federal, provincial or municipal elections. She also would not qualify for the provinces health benefits due to insufficient residency time. As well, she does not come close to being considered a 'resident' under interpretations of Revenue Canada for income tax purposes.

"Howard Leeson, former head of the University of Regina's political science department, said there is a significant question about whether former broadcaster Pamela Wallin meets the constitutional requirement for a senator to be a resident of the province for which he or she is appointed. Wallin was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week.

Leeson said Wallin, a nationally known journalist who is now a corporate director living in Toronto and New York, has not actually lived in Saskatchewan for decades. [...]

For federal taxation purposes, "residential ties" relate to where one's home and personal property are and where a spouse or dependents reside, said Leeson. Other relevant ties include a driver's licence, bank account or health coverage.

The constitution provides for the Senate itself to determine any questions raised about the qualifications of a senator.

Leeson, who said he is acting as a private citizen, intends to write a letter to the speaker of the Senate outlining the issue.

"I think this is the kind of star appointment that minimizes the responsibility of it. It seems to me, exactly the opposite of what the (prime minister) is trying to do, which is to make it a more relevant institution," he said.

Saskatoon Star Phoenix

The Senate already has a precedent for this issue.

I believe it was Lowell Murray who was summoned to the Senate (what a marvellous term) to represent Ontario, even though he was a resident of Nova Scotia and had never lived in Ontario. He simply bought a house in Ottawa. That house constituted both his required Ontario residence and his required $4,000 of real property in Ontario.

Pamela Wallin is at least one step ahead of Senator Murray. She actually does meet the property qualification already.

While I'm sympathetic to the point you and Howard have raised, I can't help feeling that it is straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. Even if it was Pamela's Saskatchewan-resident sister who had been summoned to the Senate, the whole thing would still be an appalling abuse.

Some argue that the wording of the constitution "must be a resident of the province" is ambiguous. Harper is interpreting this as "must set up residency in the province", but you would think if that is what the Constitution meant, it would have said so.

I expect Harper to get away with this, but I like to see him being given a hard time about it.

A voice in the prarie wilderness buckdog, and I hope you keep screaming until everyone within a few thousand kilometres can hear you. Not that HRH King Stephen cares...he's working on getting his name in the record books for sucking and blowing at the same time.

So, how does one undo the appointment to the Senate? Does Harper have to obey the Constitution or can he just do as he pleases and damn the public, the province, the country and the Constitution?


Hi rgl. I think there is some sort of procedure where the Senate has to confirm or vote agreement to the new appointments ... I will have to check that. Thanks. (Oh, by the way, I like your blog!)

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