Are you going to go for it, “It” being an appointment to the Senate? Last week, the Trudeau government announced a plan for new senators appointed on the advice of a committee. Anybody can apply to the committee for one of seventeen positions. The plan calls for filling all seats before the end of 2016.
In order to know whether you’re going to go for it, you have to know the basis for judging your application. There are the existing constitutional limitations. You must be over 30 years of age and under 75. You must have your residence in the province for which you are appointed. You must own property in the province, of your appointment, worth $4,000 or more. That last point should only disqualify residents of Wolfe Island and any other place, such as the southern reaches of the County and Amherst Island, slated to be within shouting distance of a wind turbine.
New criteria include the overall need to achieve gender balance, indigenous representation and minority representation. That may determine the fate of your application, however solid your personal qualities.
Individually, bilingualism is an asset. You will have to work as a senator in an independent and non-partisan manner. Having voted or participated in politics previously will not disqualify you.
You will need a solid knowledge of the constitution, of the legislative process and of the role of the Senate. You will have to have ethics and integrity. I guess it’s better to spell that out in advance rather than have you be disappointed when you discover it’s a requirement. Finally, you will have to have experience in the legislative process and public service; a record of service to your community or leadership and achievement in your field of expertise.
Well, the requirements include almost everyone I know. So, how are you supposed to distinguish yourself in your application; to stand out from the rest of them? You could put it on scented stationery. You could have it delivered by a telegram singer. You could put a few crisp $100 bills inside the application. You could have a real estate agent from Toronto help you compose a heartwarming tale as to why you should be the one chosen to purchase the house at $100,000 over asking or the Senate selection equivalent thereof. I suspect, however, the committee will quickly tire of gimmicky come-ons and resort to looking for honesty of expression.
You will probably have to write some sort of essay on why you want to be a senator, and provide copious letters of reference attesting to your superhuman deeds and spotless character. Of course, lying at the heart of the quest for appointment is a conundrum. If you want to be a senator, doesn’t that very fact cast a pall over you?
Why do you want to be a senator, anyway? Is it because you want to confirm you can survive on a diet of cold camembert and crackers? Is it because you want to show the world that someone knows how to fill out an expense form properly? Is it because you need an outlet appropriate for your level of self-esteem? Is it that you could use the salary and expense account, when you get right down to it? The best applications, it seems to me, are the ones that will reek of reluctance to serve, but indicate a preparedness to serve, if serve one must; that will, in other words, solve the conundrum.
Speaking of reeking, how would you like to be one of the members of the five-person committee in charge of vetting applications and recommending short lists to the prime minister? Members will have to wear full-body bull-feather detection gear and, undoubtedly, will get an earful from all and sundry if one of their recommendations turns out to be a dud.
Perhaps it would be better and cheaper to have the rights to a Senate appointment sold off to a commercial entity, which could then distribute them randomly. For instance, don’t you think that Tim Hortons would leap at the chance to offer grand prizes of 17 Senate appointments in its annual “Roll up the Rim” contest? Maybe Kellogg’s would give its eyeteeth to include a voucher good for a Senate job in “specially marked boxes of new Fibreboard Crispies with added bran for that extra boost of flavour.” The process would be cheaper, fairer and would probably yield just about as good a result as the committee method.
I suppose by suggesting this technique, I have demonstrated a lack of the very integrity required to show my own suitability for a Senate appointment. They probably would overlook me for an appointed, anyway. Something about those crisp $100 bills.
Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.
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