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Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers at Laval University in Quebec on Aug. 27, 2009.

MATHIEU BELANGER/Reuters

Again, I shake my head in amazement.

Here's a guy who's a bit of a policy wonk and could easily have ended up as an academic. We then see a man of principle who's prepared to resign as an MP's aide out of disgust for the government he's serving. Though he lacks the people skills you normally see in a politician, he gets himself elected as an MP. Eventually, against all odds, he unites the centre-right, notwithstanding the smart money that said it would be impossible. Then, again against the conventional wisdom of the wise-guys and kibitzers, he shows that the united party can win an election - twice now - albeit as a minority government, and he becomes Prime Minister. He governs with a ruthlessness that would make even a street-fighter like Jean Chrétien blush. And today, in his Senate appointments, he shows again that he can get right down there in the cesspool of Canadian politics - notwithstanding his past statements about the institution.

Many Canadians no doubt think that our country would have been better off had he fallen on his sword before now. Others, and I'm in that group, think we're better off with Conservative hacks, flacks and bagmen, and not just Liberals, sitting in a Senate that should be but is impossible to abolish and that is virtually impossible to reform.

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Eventually, it is to be hoped and is virtually certain, a Liberal prime minister will be back in office, and will have the power to appoint senators of his or her stripe. As in the past, many of the appointments will reek of patronage and political strategy, though - as today - a few distinguished people will be thrown in for good measure. For better or for worse, that's how the system works and will continue to work in Canada - one of the most peaceful and prosperous countries on the face of the earth, notwithstanding anachronisms like the Senate.

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