Senate Reform

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  • No, the senate is not necessary and certainly elected would only make legislation more difficult as your article suggests. Some senators are honourable citizens who are deserving of recognition but it is not just at this time that some senate appointments have been questionable. As a member of the public, I am unaware of any great contribution senators make. Legislation should be made by elected MPs and any editing of bills should be done in the House when they are presented and voted on. Keep it simple.

    Pam S | June 23, 2013 | Reply

  • Sober second thought. Such could be the case if the provinces could manage to recommend accomplished people for the prime minister to appoint.
    Like with the commons, you get what you ‘vote’ for.

    gordon a.... | June 21, 2013 | Reply

  • Sadly, I am moving towards the view expressed here that we do not need the Senate anymore. Once upon a time, not too long ago actually, I think it served a quite useful function–I think of the Kirby/LeBreton report on Health Health Care, really the best of all major studies in this field. My father, when in the Senate, played a useful role in the fight for regional economic fairness. Recent goings on have totally undermined public confidence in the Senate, and I think it will be hard to restore that. I agree with your view re an elected Senate. I do think the term limit idea could be made to work, but not worth the fuss. It’s likely time or the Senate to got he way of the provincial upper houses. A national referendum might be the way to officially say “So Long it’s been good to know you,” even if it hasn’t been lately.

    Rob Smith | June 21, 2013 | Reply

  • In the first instance I would prefer to see the Senate abolished.However,recognizing that is far from a present reality,may I suggest the following.
    1)Senators would continue to be appointed by The Prime Minister.
    2)vacancies would be filled within 1 month in the event of retirement and 2 months in the event of death or incapacity.
    3)appointments would be selected from sitting MP,s from the Province where the vacancy arose.(naturally from party)
    4)appointment would be accorded those who have served 10 years or 3 elections and have given notice to their electorate that if so nominated by the PM that they would serve.
    5)In the event of minority govt’s the PM would be obligated to appoint a Senator from the opposition at any time after he has appointed 4 from his own party.
    6)any senator so appointed would relinquish all accumulated and future benefits arising out of his capacity as MP (no DD)
    7) Item #5 would have to be reworked to provide equity to smaller provinces
    8)In the event there are no persons meeting the qualifications then an election could be held in the relevant province.
    This outline is just an outline (or maybe a skeleton looking for a funeral) as it would certainly need to be fleshed out.
    This format may bring existing Senators on board and extend the concept of an elected senate to some and ensure (?) a chamber of serious second thought.
    I have not elaborated on items such as term,salary,pension, age because it is late and TV beckons
    .

    Bill | June 21, 2013 | Reply

  • What surprised me was the omission of the idea that as weak as the Senate is, it can serve as a block to the tyranny of the majority. Since the Commons is elected on a “representation by population” basis, in a unicameral legislature, the only agenda which would matter would be that of Ontario and Quebec.
    The other useful function is to force careful consideration of the measures being passed by the House. There are numerous examples of legislation clearing the House and being cleaned up by the Senate. Most Senators have the time and the wisdom to correct unintended mistakes in legislation.
    Finally, Canada is a federation of provinces and when the deal which was Confederation was made, the Senate was seen by Quebec as a bare minimum measure which would ensure that their interests would be looked after.
    I still believe that a triple E Senate is the proper solution, so long as we don’t have the requirement for super majorities called for in the United States. A Triple E Senate would easily become the House of the Provinces and those elected Senators would never have a problem figuring out which province they lived in.

    Jon Coates | June 21, 2013 | Reply

  • The failure of the prime minister … Any prime minister … To appoint high quality candidates who understand inherently what standards Senators should uphold is the core of the problem. Canada wouldn’t be having this Senate turmoil if only thoroughly decent and honest people were the ones appointed. There are lots of people who would make great Senators. Blind partisanship shouldn’t be a criteria.

    Jill Rafuse | June 21, 2013 | Reply

  • The Senate is needed as a check on the power of the House where representation by population could leave underpopulated areas of the country without any real participation in the governance of the country. Each province should provide the PMO with a short list of names, from which the Prime Minister could make his appointments, based on real residency requirements….and there should be terms limits on each appointment, ending the” career politician” which has done more harm to democracy. Neither abolishing the Senate or electing a Senate has any value, if you are looking at meaningful change. It must reflect the concerns of all areas of the country and not merely the political agenda of the PMO.

    David | June 21, 2013 | Reply