From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On the Senate

Do we reform the senate or abolish it altogether is an important question facing Canadians. Is either option even possible? Do Canadians even have the courage to address these questions?

Upfront I freely admit that I fully support abolition as the only viable option before us.

Lets look at the various party positions; The NDP has long held the position that abolition is the route, although have never articulated how we get there. Mulcair's rhetoric on the matter saying he'll violate the constitution by letting it "die on the vine" muddies the waters significantly.

The Liberal position is to appoint better people (something every PM in history save for obviouis reasons Sir JAM has promised) Yet here we are. They also wish us to believe that they can take the partisan out of the partisan.

The Greens promise an elected senate of sorts based on MMPR or STV. but I see an elected senate depending on the make up of each house as either rubber stamp or obstructionist, certainly not effective

The Conservative position? I'm reticent to broach that as it could change yet again as I type this except to say they've been in power nearly a decade and have made no effort to see through any of their many positions on the subject.

As I stated at the top I support abolition but realise to meet that goal we must first implement effective electoral and most importantly parliamentary reforms.

We must first strip power from the leaders offices and empower MPs to freely represent their constituents without fear of reprisal only then can we consider getting rid of the senate.

No matter how you slice it any meaningful reforms will entail a re-opening of the constitution Do we have the courage to so?

In the meantime both Mulcair and Harper need to respect the constitution and properly populate the senate, as distasteful as that is.


  1. I agree with you that electoral reform to proportional representation goes hand and glove with abolishment of the Senate.
    That said, I disagree with you about stripping party leaders of their whipping some votes. Like you said about taking the partisan out, ditto here in so many ways.

    At the end of the day, people elect someone based on party positions/leaders and I would be miffed if that person ended up not supporting those things that I helped elect them on .

  2. I've seen MPs vote again the interests of their constituents far too often To me party discipline is the greater evil

  3. This is a good piece!

    I have more faith than you that limiting the Senators' duties to provision of sober second thought only (as well as education to schools/public on role of the Senate as part of our Basic Constitutional Architecture) and separating them from the party, along with a much stronger selection criteria and process can, over time, yield good results.

    The Senate is supposed to be independent of parties, the HoC, and PMO.

    The fact it hasn't been in a good while likely is the major problem... and not the very fact it exists.

    But if it is to be abolished, then we have to also change electoral law so that an absolute majority in the ONLY legislative chamber we will have left can't be achieved without an actual absolute majority of votes.

    1. Senate aside, electoral reform is a must and a vital first step to reforming our system of governance

  4. Athenian democracy was truly representative; the representatives were drawn by lot, not elected. This could work for Canada's Senate. A six year term at $150,000+ a year would get a lot better acceptance rate than jury duty.

  5. Certainly better than what we have now