Christopher Moore on the Senator From Bay Street

31 10 2013

Historian and blogger Christopher Moore has published some great comments about my recent post on the relationship between business and the Canadian Senate. He wrote that:

Andrew’s evidence and argument are interesting — particularly when, in acknowledging there was never going to be a Canadian class equivalent to the British aristocracy of the mid-19th century, he considers how the senate may have come to represent the Canadian business class. 

I suspect the way to pursue this question might be to investigate the careers of men like Salter Hayden, a Toronto lawyer appointed by Mackenzie King in 1940 who as chair of the Senate Banking Committee functioned as the Senator from Bay Street until his retirement in 1983. Careers like his suggest how the Senate still lacked power but had influence, as a kind of lobbyists’ chamber. But with the imposition of party discipline on the Senate and the appointment of party functionaries like Keith Davey and publicists like Duffy and Wallin, even that role seems to have shrunk in recent decades.


Bay Street

For the benefit of non-Canadian readers, I should add that the metonym “Bay Street” is used in Canada to refer to Big Business, Bay Street being in Toronto’s financial district. The reference to Hayden is a great one. Hayden served in Canada’s unelected upper house for an incredibly long period, 1940–1983, that happened to coincide with the peak of the interventionist-Keynesian-social democratic state in Canada. Hayden advanced the interests of a variety of powerful interest groups, such as dairy farmers: he was partially responsible for the Canadian government’s prohibition of margarine.

Sadly, there is no biography of Hayden. Chris has added to the list of important books that are not yet written.