1. Bums in seats. If Conservative Senators manage to patch together the massive omnibus bill that was split apart Thursday by the Liberals (and one Progressive Conservative), Canadians may rightfully take a hard look at who is showing up for work on the Liberal side of the Red Chamber.
The New Democrats called The Globe on Thursday to say that, regardless of election threats being uttered by the Conservatives, they would still vote against the bill when it gets back to the House of Commons. But everyone in the Senate knows that is not likely to happen.
Why? Because, even though the Liberals say they will be asking all of their senators to be in their seats when Bill C-9 is voted on for the final time, there are some Liberals who do not turn out to vote even on issues that are critical to their party.
The Liberals and the independent senators have a plurality of one that will last until the fall. So, when Progressive Conservative Senator Lowell Murray introduced a motion in June that would have seen Bill C-9 divided into five smaller bills, it stood a chance of passing - provided the other Progressive Conservative and the two independents were onside.
One of those independents, Anne Cools, made a passionate speech in defence of Mr. Murray`s motion. But the motion was still defeated by a vote of 42 to 51.
The Conservatives who, as a caucus, are younger and apparently more committed, made sure that each and every one of their members was in their seat. Speaker Noel Kinsella, a Conservative, even took the unusual step of voting.
When Bill C-9 comes back for the final vote - likely Tuesday - Liberal senators Colin Kenny and Terry Mercer will not be there because they are ill.
But, on the other side of the Senate, Jacques Demers is in hospital after suffering a heart attack and Hugh Segal has recused himself from voting on the bill.
So, numerically, the absences should balance each other out and the bill stands a chance of passing. But nobody expects that to happen because there will be empty seats on the Liberal benches - seats that senators are paid more than $130,000 a year to fill.
2. Business versus climate. Speaking of bills the Liberals and independent senators could use their slim majority to pass over government objections...
Mike de Souza of Canwest reports that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has launched a lobbying campaign urging the Senate to kill a private-member's bill from the NDP that would requiring the government come up with a plan to meet stringent targets to fight global warming and provide regular reports on its progress.
The Chamber says in a policy alert obtained by Mr. De Souza that the Climate Change Accountability Act, Bill C-311, adopted in the House of Commons, is a threat to Canada's economic competitiveness.
"Bill C-311 must die in the Senate," said the chamber in the message to its members. "This will require significant lobbying by Canadian business."
NDP MP Bruce Hyer ,who crafted the bill, has told The Globe he will consider the treatment of his bill in the Senate a test of the effectiveness of the Red Chamber. The NDP, of course, support Senate abolition.
Mr. Hyer says he realizes there may be improvements that could be made to the legislation. But he would at least like to hear the debate.
Environmental lobbyists, meanwhile, have been loudly supporting the bill.
"I found it pretty shocking," Graham Saul, executive director of Climate Action Network, told Canwest. "What the chamber of commerce is saying is both uninformed and totally unproductive. The fact that they're trying to kill the only piece of climate legislation on [Parliament]Hill says a lot."