Nathan on chronyism and corruption in the Senate

Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley, NDP): I use the word “democratic” very specifically because all the discussion we are having here today in this democratic institution, in this House of Commons, is about some sort of historical relic, and that is what the Prime Minister used to call the Senate, an historical relic, in which being friends with the prime minister of the day is enough to get a person a job that does not end until that person is 75, which has no accountability whatsoever, no constituency at all, and uses up to $90 million a year of taxpayer money, for what purpose?

I would like to read a quote. There are a number of great quotes, but a recent appointment of the Conservative government to the Senate, Senator Gerstein, said something that I think is very important for us to put into some context. On January 27, 2009, the good Senator Gerstein said:

“Every one of you knows why you are here. I would ask if you might indulge me and let me tell you why I am here…. Well, I want to tell you that I do not admit to being a bagman; I proclaim it.”

He does not want to admit that he has been a bagman for the Conservatives, a fundraiser, and a good fundraiser apparently; he proclaims it. He says that is why he is there, because he helped the government of the day raise money. That is why, not because of his ability to look over legislation or to think about the affairs of state, about where our country needs to go. It is because he can shake money out of the pockets of Conservative supporters better than the next guy. The Prime Minister seems to like that a lot, so he has given him this gravy train of a job. He is accountable to nobody. He gets paid $140,000 a year for doing virtually nothing if he so pleases, showing up less than 50 days to work.

Most Canadians would find this offensive, and do.