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Today, as the Senate scandal threatens Harper’s grasp on power, some observers are puzzled at how he could be brought down by an institution he held in such contempt.

“What mystifies me is why [the Conservatives] haven’t taken the same position of the New Democrats – which is to abolish it,” wonders Aaron Wudrick, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an organization that wants the Senate eradicated. “If anyone has a reason to do it, it would be this prime minister. It's been the single biggest millstone around his neck. And yet they continue to shy away from taking it on head on.”

The answer lies in the events of 2008, when it dawned on Harper how useful the Senate could be in his quest of retaining power and creating a permanent ruling Conservative juggernaut.

“I think Stephen Harper has been very clear… he wanted to put in place a strong Conservative organization that would displace the Liberals,” says former Tory MP Patrick Boyer, a candidate for the Conservatives in the 2008 election and author of Our Scandalous Senate, a recent book about the Senate.

“I think that's what happens to people who get into office after a while: the zeal is gone and they adjust to the comfort of what’s there… The vested interests soon cluster around… [Harper] kind of got seduced by the benefits [of the Senate] and that outweighed his ability to make the changes he talked about.”

The kinds of benefits to which Boyer refers can be seen by reviewing Harper's appointees, which included Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Irving Gerstein (chair of the powerful fundraising arm of the party, the Conservative Fund Canada) – all of whom played a part in the Senate spending scandal.

They were appointed to achieve a dual purpose: first, keep the party’s coffers full; second, keep the faithful in the small towns and suburbs voting Tory...

Why Harper corrupted the Senate | National Observer

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