Tour guides: the last, great defenders of the Senate?

Tease the day: 39-page guide touts all the apparent benefits of the Upper Chamber

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

The last, great defenders of the Senate on Parliament Hill might turn out to be none other than its summer tour guides. The Canadian Press reports that a 39-page manual meant to train the guides is effusive in its praise of the Upper Chamber. “Senate investigations are usually of a higher standard” than those undertaken by the House of Commons, reads the guide, which suggests the non-partisan nature of the chamber and relative lack of media exposure—read: scrutiny?—allows senators to, among other things, “dedicate themselves to exhaustive research and analysis.”

All, arguably, fair points—debatable, but not objectively insane. And since tour guides are discouraged from debating the tourists with whom they hold court, all of this could be rendered mostly moot.

A few lines deeper, though, comes the line that will rile abolitionists across the land. “The Canadian taxpayer may feel that the Senate’s achievements do not merit its cost, yet a 1991-92 review of its cost … showed that the Senate costs $1.61 per capita, while the House of Commons costs $8.49.”

The National Capital Commission, which produces this guide, decided to cite a 20-year-old review that demonstrates the Senate is cheaper to run than the House of Commons? And those dated numbers, on their own, are supposed to justify the expense?

Even if no tourist ever hears those figures, or any of the Senate cheerleading within the 39 pages of tour guide training, the NCC’s arguments say a lot about the increasingly maligned Red Chamber—which, hey, now we know it cost everyone $1.61 to run in 1992. Anyone know how much it costs in 2013?

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s blunt criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support for the Syrian government. The National Post fronts Harper’s characterization of the G8 as the “G7 plus one,” leaving Russia as the odd one out. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Harper’s contention that Putin supports “the thugs of the Assad regime.” The Ottawa Citizen leads with a federal cost-cutting plan to withhold two-weeks’ pay from public servants, to be paid out when they leave the public service. iPolitics fronts the RCMP’s payment of $845,000 to produce a self-promotional television program. leads with Harper’s criticism of Putin. CTV News leads with Turkish labour unions calling for a walkout. National Newswatch showcases a CTV News story about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s intention to approach charities he charged for speaking engagements and “make this right.”

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Strike. Many of Quebec’s construction workers—175,000 in total—are walking off the job today, claiming contract offers “show a complete lack of respect for workers.” 2. Taxes. Two employees of the Canada Revenue Agency separately padded tax returns for friends and family and urged the CRA not to collect GST from a business for years before being caught.
3. Refugee aid. Canada is sending $100 million to Jordan to help the country deal with the influx of refugees attempting to escape violence in neighbouring Syria. 4. Cycling. A 16-year-old cyclist from Victoria who was riding for the B.C. Cancer Foundation was killed about 80 kilometres north of Seattle when he was hit by a car.
5. Egypt. A Canadian NGO worker who faces prison time for her action during the 2011 revolution in Egypt says neither Canada nor the U.S. has spoken out on her behalf. 6. Guantanamo. U.S. President Barack Obama appointed lawyer Clifford Sloan to lead the office committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay—a 2008 election promise.

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