This week, Auditor-General Michael Ferguson's scathing report on Senate expenses revealed a taste for the high life in the "upper chamber." In response, The Committee of Totally Made Up People Who Meet in My Imagination convened to address the day's agenda – Things That Could Replace the Senate.
"A giant sucking mouth!" calls out Bob Flowers.
"A money blender!" says Doug Lamp.
"A self-igniting currency?" says Linda Small Wooden Coffee Table.
"Swarms of money-eating locusts," says Reginald Persian Carpet.
"There'd have to be a certain number of swarms from each province. There's only so much we can alter the Constitution," says, Mr. Rose, "and even then, practically speaking, only in Tabatha's imagination."
"And Thomas Mulcair's," says Reginald Persian Carpet, sensibly.
"Locusts can fly," says Linda. "They'll never spend enough on airfare to replace the Senate."
"Vikings? Are they still a thing?" says Mr. Darcy, the BBC one. Whee! "Huns," injects A Helpful Hudson's Bay Employee.
"No," says Linda Small Wooden Coffee Table, "Vikings and Huns may be too responsive to criticism and unable fill the large, injured, self-righteous hole the Senate would leave."
"True. The Auditor-General's report's received a great deal of attention – although not nearly enough from the Senate itself," intones a Very Clever and Successful Globe and Mail Columnist who is wearing such fetching dress today and is good at making up names.
"The Senate has rejected one of the report's key recommendations; the senators do not want an oversight body, thank you very much, and are a little hurt you asked."
"One of the report's findings is that we have a very sensitive Senate," says Mr. Darcy, the BBC one. And the way he says "sensitive" almost justifies the close to $1-million the report found was improperly expended by senators during the two-year period scrutinized.
"People who eat money," shouts The Memorandizer, the world's most bureaucratic superhero.
"On planes!" says The Pencil Pusher, his trusty (though somewhat bitchy at the Water Cooler Cave on Paperwork Mountain) sidekick chimes in.
"…But who chow down on a wad of fifties later because you just can't get a decent bankroll on a plane," adds The Memorandizer.
"No, that won't do," says Paddington Bear, "The only way to hire people who eat money is to hire people who admit they eat money. And so many senators have claimed reimbursement in contravention of the Senate's guidelines, then become stroppy when asked to back those claims up, that they can't be replaced with people remotely honest and accountable about their money-munching ways."
"Good point, Paddington," says Sam Large Antique Carved Wooden Owl, affectionately known as "Impulse Purchase."
"We should replace them with marmalade," says Paddington, adjusting his hat.
"Drop the marmalade thing, Paddington," says Clever and Successful Globe and Mail Columnist, who has totally been to the moon. "Every time there's an issue to be dealt with, you claim it can be resolved with marmalade. Marmalade didn't keep the Russians out of Ukraine and it did not make a good replacement for the light fixture in the hallway upstairs."
"Well, I like it," says Mr. Darcy, the BBC one. "Thanks," says Very Successful Globe and Mail Columnist, who invented grilled cheese sandwiches.
"Look, this shouldn't be that hard," says A Helpful Hudson's Bay Employee. "It's not as if all the senators fished, played golf, went on holiday and attended hockey games, and claimed back those amounts. Couldn't we just replace the Senate with a collection of party hacks, fundraisers, actually respected people and miscellaneous former television personalities? Then hypnotize 30 or so of them into thinking they'd won Cash For Life? We could teach them that the words 'parliamentary business' are magic; if you say them loudly over a fellow senator's 50th wedding anniversary you've flown to, business class, all your expenses disappear."
"Only 30 of 116 investigated?" demands Constantine Dmitrich Levin, from Anna Karenina, who does pop in sometimes as a voice of moral authority. "That is hateful and repulsive. Would we accept this ratio from any of the other professions?" he says, stomping.
"Only 30 of these 116 waiters spat in your food, and to be fair the rules around plating and saliva are vague,'" he continues – in a mocking, sing-songy voice – before adding earnestly, "Mostly I think only of death."
"Death's your marmalade," says Paddington. "I understand."
"He's a bit much, isn't he?" whispers Mr. Darcy, the BBC one, gesturing subtly toward the pacing Mr. Levin – somewhat jealously, thinks Globe and Mail Columnist.
"Yes," says Mr. Lamp, "don't get him started on agricultural practices vis-a-vis the temperament of the peasants, but it's not like he said 'Giving a voice to the voiceless is part of my duties as a parliamentarian,' as did Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, whom the Auditor-General found had misstated the location of his primary residence and incurred $61,076 in dubious expenses."
"My understanding is that the definition of 'residence' for a senator is not 'a place in which you live' so much as it is a place you 'grace with your presence,'" says The Pencil Pusher.
"Let's just officially make the Senate CPAC's contribution to the reality-TV genre. These are Canada's overpaid D-list celebrities from a TV show no one watches," suggests The Memorandizer's arch nemesis, The Verbal Contractor.
"We sell the Senate to people over the phone, taking their money directly. Think of the Senate as Canada's vast tracts of swamp-land in Florida," says Mr. Flowers.
"Or," says Glenda the Good Living Room Window, "We could refuse to accept the excuse that the rules that govern the Senate are too ill-defined and impenetrable to be followed. Coming as it does of late from a good number of people whose role is largely to scrutinize the rules and policies that govern us, but whom, upon seeing a possible loop-hole dove right down it – golf clubs in hand.
"Then maybe the Senate could be a legislative body to which we appoint citizens who'd demonstrated both a desire and a singular ability to make a contribution to bettering Canada?"
"This is worse than Levin on farming," sighs Globe and Mail Columnist, who has six adorable red pandas in her garden, "but she has a point."
"We could say," continues Ms. Window, "'Senators, you must live in a faraway land called Beyond Reproach because the position you're in is unique and precious. If you don't like it, move. Or, get this: We breed termites, only they build their mounds out of money, and occasionally show up at local craft fairs.'"