Stephen Harper's Senate Losers Club

If you've been following the news coming out of the Senate, you might think it was a joke that an unelected senator would call a parliamentarian who actually won an election illegitimate.

How about if the senator doing the name-calling actually tried to get elected to the House of Commons, but lost... badly?

He shouldn’t be giving any lessons on electoral legitimacy, right?

And yet, Jean-Guy Dagenais — a failed Conservative candidate in the 2011 election, appointed to the Senate after his electoral defeat by Stephen Harper — did exactly that.

In a sexist and condescending letter circulated to all MPs and the media, Dagenais, 63 (who can sit as a Senator until he turns 75 in 2025) attacked NDP MP Charmaine Borg, 23, who he said, among other things, was "useless and powerless," "knows nothing" about constitutional affairs, and is a "whiner" who should go to the library to learn about the Parliament to which she was elected. 

While we wait for a decision from the Speaker of the House of Commons on whether the attack violated Borg's parliamentary privilege, let's review the membership of the Senate Losers Club: 14 Harper-appointed senators who ran for a seat in the House of Commons, lost in a federal election, but were later appointed as legislators to Canada's Upper Chamber as a 'check' on the elected House.

1. Jean-Guy "Mansplainer" Dagenais

Lost the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe Bagot in 2011 by almost 19,000 votes. Rewarded for losing with a Senate appointment in January 2012. Went on to redefine "irony" after belittling an accomplishment he didn’t even come close to achieving.

2. Fabian "The Yo-Yo" Manning

Ran in 2008 and lost by 10% of the vote. Appointed to the Senate in January 2009, before resigning to run again in 2011. Lost for a second time, so Harper shuttled him right back to the Senate in May 2011, where he can stay until 2039.

3. Yonah "Mulligan!" Martin

Lost in the B.C. riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam in the 2008 federal election. Appointed to the Senate in January 2009; her term expires in the year 2040.

4. John "Second Chances" Wallace

Lost the riding of Saint John in 2006. Had to wait three years, but was eventually appointed to the Senate in 2009 and is guaranteed a paycheck until 2024.

5. Claude "Not Even Close" Carignan

Was the failed Conservative candidate for the Rivière-des-Mille-Îles riding in 2008, losing by over 13,000 votes. Appointed in August 2009, set to retire in 2039.

6. Don "Fourth Sounds A Bit Like First" Meredith

Was the Conservative candidate in the 2008 Toronto Centre by-election, where he came in fourth — behind the Greens — with 12.4% of the vote. Appointed December 2010, Meredith can sit as a Senator until 2039.

7. Salma "Votes Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number" Ataullahjan 

Lost in the 2008 election for Mississauga—Brampton South, appointed to the Senate in July 2010, where she can stay until 2027.

8. Josée "Losing Is Just An Attitude" Verner

The former Conservative cabinet minister, who lost her seat in Louis—Saint-Laurent in May 2011, had to wait one whole month before landing her plum patronage spot, which she can keep until 2034.

9. Larry "I Fumbled That One" Smith

The former CFL player, who is no stranger to incomplete passes, was appointed as a senator in 2010, then resigned to run in 2011. After losing in the Lac-Saint-Louis riding, Smith was re-appointed to the Senate less than a month later, where he can stay until 2026.

10. Michael "Unique Snowflake" Fortier

Wanted to be different than his peers in Harper's Losers Club, so he was first appointed to the Senate to sit in Harper's cabinet after the 2006 election. Resigned in 2008 to run in the Quebec riding of Vaudreuil—Soulanges. Fortier lost by over 11,000 votes, proving there’s no one-size-fits-all way to lose an election.

11. Michael "Dartmouth—Cold Shoulder" MacDonald

Lost in the riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour in 2004 by almost 9,000 votes. Had to wait until 2009 to receive his patronage appointment, which he gets to enjoy until 2030.

12, 13, 14. Leo Housakos, Michel Rivard and Thomas McInnis

The "What happens in the year 2000 stays in the year 2000" club: All three men ran as Canadian Alliance or Progressive Conservative candidates in the 2000 federal election. They all lost... by a lot. They were all were eventually appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper.

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