Constitutional experts and opposition parties yesterday condemned Prime Minister Stephen Harper's plan to fill every empty Senate seat in advance of his government's possible defeat in the new year.
Constitutional scholar Desmond Morton called the move a scandal in view of the precarious position of Harper's minority government.
"He has the power to do it, but he shouldn't have the gall," said Morton, a professor emeritus at McGill University.
"I think it's more in keeping with the principles of parliamentary democracy that a potentially lame-duck administration should not make appointments," said constitutional scholar Ned Franks.
Harper will name the new senators before Christmas – likely in one fell swoop – in a move his office says will bolster the chances of eventual Senate reform, but opposition critics called a hyper-partisan power grab.
"It's outrageous," said New Democrat MP and reform critic David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre), whose party advocates abolishing the Senate. "I can't believe that the Prime Minister is just literally giving Canadians the finger."
Christopherson was angry over both Harper's change of position and his timing.
"This is about a blatant power move by someone who does not have the legitimacy of the Canadian people in terms of the votes he got, nor does he have the confidence of the House," Christopherson said.