Look out Senate, I might be coming your way 

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What is the useful life of a greeting card? A birthday card? Christmas card? How long do we have to hang on to any of them before we can toss 'em in recycling without guilt or a sense of loss or betrayal?

I'll spare you the suspense. This isn't going to be about greeting cards. It is going to be, tangentially, about getting rid of things that serve little or no useful purpose but have some sentimental, perhaps historic value.

The Canadian Senate, comes immediately to mind.

Having just gone through a major purge of old tax and banking files, my mouldering collection of vinyl LPs, CDs long ago stored and backed up on computers, countless photographs of dubious quality, ancient love letters, obsolete stereo equipment I'll never use again but just couldn't consign to the local thrift shop, and other odds and sods—the detritus of life—the attraction of useless things has been on my mind.

I know from past purges there is a gentle lightness of being that descends when useless, sentimental clutter has vanished. I also know there is an inertial weight to it that requires substantial effort to overcome. But when the dust has settled, I personally find getting rid of things for which I have no use and declining sentimental attachment is highly liberating.

So, back to the Senate.

I nearly applied to become a senator when I heard Nancy Greene was knocking on the door of retirement. I downloaded the application form and filled it out. It was hilarious. One segment explained any applicant for the senate had to be a landowner, a holdover perhaps from Britain's House of Lords. The hilarious part was the land holding had to be valued in excess of $5,000. Considering parking places in Whistler sell for an order of magnitude greater than that, I wondered whether my 25 square feet in Scotland, compliments of the coupons in Laphroaig whisky, would qualify.

I figured I had a shot at the Senate. I explained how making me a senator would mean I'd have to stop writing this column and, therefore, stop berating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a regular basis. I further pointed out I was stubbornly independent, something JT wants newly appointed senators to be. And, in what I thought would be the clincher, I said my senatorial motto would be, "They also serve who never show up!"

I believe we would be better served if senators just collected their very generous salary and perks and never actually darkened the halls of power. I'm pretty sure most Canadians would agree with me. In the long run, it would cost the country far less if senators stayed home or on the beach in some foreign country rather than cluttering the upper chamber with their dithering presence.

This is not to be confused with those who believe the Senate should be elected. The last thing we need is another elected level of dunderheads keen on inaction. Given the current and past quality of MPs, it would appear we've already reached our national Peter Principle when it comes to people willing and able to govern. The last thing we need is franchise expansion in government.

It seems clear we'd be better off without the Senate but since that seems unlikely, simply giving senators money to stay home is the more palatable option. It's hard to violate even the chimerical "ethics" of the Senate if you never show up. And it's impossible to sit on legislation, kowtow to corporate interests or insult vast swaths of the cultural soup that is Canada from a beach in Mexico.

There is, for example, a bill languishing in the Senate aimed at restricting the unfettered right of companies who make what passes for food today to advertise their delectable sugar/salt/fat kibble to children. Health Canada kicked off this donnybrook but do-gooders who worry about such things as childhood obesity and the health effects of larding on sugar, fat, etc., jumped on board. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, Dieticians of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, Diabetes Canada, the usual suspects who believe Canadians should eat healthier food and perhaps be less of a burden on the health care system, all praised legislation when it was introduced ... in 2016!

Newton's third law kicked in and there was an opposite, though vastly unequal, force arrayed against it. Advertisers—read every corporation that makes unhealthy kibble—farmers, broadcasters and libertarians mounted a well-funded backlash. Now, to be fair, none of them claimed they had a god-given right to pitch junk food to kids. None of them went so far as to say chubby children were a good thing. They did claim such an advertising ban—that initially included sponsoring kid's athletics—simply wouldn't work, would catch up healthy food like milk and nut butters in the ban and would lay waste to a large segment of the economy that depended on getting the little Poindexters hooked on non-food at an early age.

Now, to be honest, I don't really care much about this subject. If parents insist on leaving the education of their children in the hands of television advertisers, they get what they deserve. If they don't have the spine to withstand the tantrum their children throw in the sugar cereal aisle of the supermarket, so be it. If they believe making their children drink water instead of soda will make them autistic, there's an app for that. If they continue to hold on to the fiction they don't have time to make healthy meals, let them eat junk.

But seriously, as a country do we really want to let a gaggle of unelected political hacks sit on legislation until it dies an untended death—which this one will later this month when Parliament adjourns for summer vacation, unscheduled to return until after the October election?

I mean, it's one thing to be such money whores we're willing to continue selling weaponized vehicles to the Saudis to kill those they don't agree with just to save a couple of hundred jobs in a riding the Liberals need to hang on to. And it's perfectly understandable the government would go to the wall for the unscrupulous likes of SNC Lavalin at the risk of turning the reins of power over to Conservative leader Chuckles Scheer. But to not even have the stones to pass a relatively toothless advertising ban in the face of opposition from sugar pushers. That's beyond pathetic.

Maybe I'll dust off that application. It would be something to have a ringside seat to such a pitiful display of humanity.


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