A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For!

Abolish the Senate? Be careful what you wish for, we all know that it has become highly partisan and some of those appointed feel they are entitled to their entitlements and take even more, reform is needed but do away with it entirely? I maintain that it is not the institution that is the problem but the people who are appointed to it and the manner of appointment, despite his appointment of many undeserving and unprincipled conservative flacks to ensure that he can jam questionable legislation through Mr Harper would like nothing better than to remove this impediment to his plans. I begin to wonder if all this recent expense scandal was not deliberately created to bring the senate into disrepute in order to sway public option against the senate and for abolition.

Without a bill having to be sent to the Senate it would be much easier and quicker for a majority government (any majority government) to push legislation through without sufficient examination and debate. Is this a good thing, I dont think so. Many of these bills are complex and written in such a way as to be all but impossible to fully understand the full ramifications, MPs have little time to fully dissect such legislation and all to often simply take their partys word upon both the content and upon how to vote. True the Senate is becoming a similar partisan rubber stamp despite the ability to more fully examine and debate a bill, but that once again is a problem with those appointed not the senate itself or for the most part its way of doing things.

Reform yes, abolition no. Besides the fact that it would be almost impossible to meet the conditions set down for such a move it would simply put more power into the hands of a majority PM who it would seem has very few checks and balances upon his power, many of the 'rules' be convention not requirements, and there being no consequences for ignoring such 'conventions'. Senators are meant to represent their Province not a particular party, if the next PM were to simply say to the Provinces 'I will accept you recommendation for filling this position (subject to the normal checks and debate) we would at least have a broader range of individuals appointed.

But is abolition any more feasible than reform? It has proved hard enough just to change the length of senators’ terms. How is it supposed you could abolish it altogether? Indeed, whereas major reforms to the Senate — including changes to its powers, the numbers of senators from each province or the method of their selection — would invoke the Constitution’s general amending formula, requiring the support, not only of both Houses of Parliament, but of seven provinces with 50 per cent of the population, abolition would seem to require unanimity.”

The issue of the length of term, compensation & pensions is, in my opinion a separate issue and one that needs examining for both the Senate and the House of Commons. It is difficult for Canadians who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis to justify the amount of money these folks receive both during their time in Ottawa and after they 'retire' from the legislature.

Thats just one opinion, the debate continues......probably for years and most certainly beyond the next election!
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1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

Abolishing the Senate means a quick trip to a constitutional crisis. The Senate needs reform. But the country does not need its abolition.