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Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at Xstrata Nickel's Raglan Mine in the northern Nunavik region of Quebec on Friday, August 23, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at Xstrata Nickel's Raglan Mine in the northern Nunavik region of Quebec on Friday, August 23, 2013. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Harper not planning to appoint more senators despite growing vacancies Add to ...

Stephen Harper says he has “no immediate plans” to make more appointments to the controversy-plagued Senate.

But he is suggesting he might do so if he needs to move Senate reform legislation through the Red Chamber, where Conservatives have privately said they are not sure they have sufficient votes to pass the bill.

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The Red Chamber, which has been in an uproar over expense claims filed by several Harper appointees and others, currently has five vacancies, and three senators are due to retire over the next year.

This time in 2014, there could be eight vacancies.

Mr. Harper’s Senate reform plans are on hold until he hears from the Supreme Court, which is considering what degree of independence Parliament possesses when it comes to making changes.

Mr. Harper has said his preference is to reform the Red Chamber, including allowing for appointments reflecting the choice of voters in the provinces – and setting term limits.

While the Conservatives have a majority in the Senate – enabling them to pass most government bills – Tory officials have said in weeks past that they are not certain whether they would right now have enough votes in the Red Chamber to pass reform legislation.

It’s not certain all of Mr. Harper’s Senate appointees would in fact vote for his plans to reform the chamber.

The Prime Minister said appointments are not on his to-do list right now.

“Obviously, we’ll keep an eye on whether the legislation passed by the elected House is able to keep moving,” he said. “As long as it is, I have no immediate plans to do so.”

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