In Sir John A.’s Footsteps

Ted Hsu
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Recently I was the guest host of Salon Theatre’s production of “In Sir John A.’s Footsteps” which takes place outdoors around Kingston City Hall. I heartily encourage you to bring a group and enjoy one of their shows this summer.

At the end of the show I was asked to make some comments. What I decided to talk about was the continuing relevance of Sir John A. to the public debate about democratic reform and, in particular, Senate reform. In the debates leading up to Confederation, consideration of the Senate took up four days, more time than any other issue. I said that these debates will be re-examined in the coming years including Sir John A.’s arguments in favour of a Senate. As an example, I mentioned this story which is copied from the Parliament of Canada web site:

“His [Sir John A. Macdonald’s] view of the necessity for a second chamber may be expressed briefly by the story told of Washington, which Sir John was fond of relating. It is said that on his return from France Jefferson called Washington to account for having agreed to a second chamber. ‘Of what use is the Senate?’ he asked, as he stood before the fire with a cup of tea in his hand, pouring the tea into his saucer as he spoke. ‘You have answered your own question,’ replied Washington. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Why did you pour that tea into your saucer?!’ ‘To cool it,’ quoth Jefferson. ‘Even so,’ said Washington, ‘the Senate is the saucer into which we pour legislation to cool.’ ”

(J. Pope, Memoirs of the Rt. Hon. Sir John Alexander Macdonald [Ottawa, 1894], vol. II, p. 233)

.Here are some fun moments from the show!