It helped to win the election for him.
But once in office, Mulroney made the chamber his own 'reward miles' program, with Marjorie LeBreton handing out senate seats to those who puckered up the most, paying homage to her boss's derriere.
And these appointments became both a curse and a blessing for Jean Charest when he became party leader. They were broke and broken:
The reality was that there were just two MPs in Parliament and the party was $5 million in debt. ..... The only place the federal Tories had any real bench strength, a significant block of parliamentarians with staff, research money, phone lines, airline passes, and experience, was in the Senate. The roll call of senators so close to the former prime minister must be daunting to Charest: David Angus. Eric Berntson, John Buchanan, Guy Charbonneau, Michel Cogger. Trevor Eyton, Dunc Jessiman, Jim Kelleher, Marjory LeBreton, John Lvnch-Staunton, Michael Meighen, Pierre Claude Nolin, and Fernand Roberge. These are the individuals on whom Charest must depend, the same people who are, to a great extent, responsible for much of the mess the party is in today. Maybe there is just too much baggage for a Tory recovery in the foreseeable future. (1)And of course they never did recover, leaving them vulnerable for a Reform-Alliance takeover.
Now we find ourselves decades later in a similar situation with senate baggage. Stephen Harper has made the most patronage senate appointments in the history of this country, and most were not qualified to run a lemonade stand, including a former hockey coach who can't even read or write.
And what's worse is that if he remains prime minister to the end of November, he may have control of the Senate.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper will soon lay claim in the unelected Senate to what he does not have in the House of Commons: a majority.But this won't be a 'Tory' senate control, as suggested by the media, but a control of what Harper himself refers to as a party "where evangelical Christians and business rule in an unholy alliance" after Red Tories are "jettisoned from the party". (2)
In other words, Republicans.
And what will it mean for Canada?
It means that even if we can get rid of this government before they completely destroy us, we will not be able to overturn their list of horrendous bills, and Parliament will be essentially controlled a gaggle of Reformer fundraisers and party faithfuls. Harper will continue to control us from a distance.
Add to that a Fox News North and we will officially be an American colony.
This is not good.
1. On the Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years, By Stevie Cameron, Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1994, ISBN: 0-921912-73-0, Pg. 486-87
2. Harper, Bush Share Roots in Controversial Philosophy. The Tyee, Donald Gutstein, November 29, 2009