Justin Trudeou Jan 29 2014
By now you all know that in a surprising and brave move the Liberal leader has released all the former Liberal Senators from any connection from the Liberal Caucus saying that “only elected Members of the House of Commons will serve as members of the Liberal Caucus. “ Whilst this move is not without its problems, not the least of which is how Senate committees will be formed and chaired in the future, it is in my view probably the only way in the short term to return the Senate to its role of 'sober second thought' and reduce the extreme partisanship that has made it simply a rubber stamp of the PMO. That Mr Trudeau also says what many of us who believe the senate has in the past (and can in the future) have an important role in our parliamentary system have said for some time is also encouraging. That being:-
There already has been a great deal of debate upon exactly what kind of process such a system will entail and no doubt there will be much more. As always the devil is in the details! We know that Harper has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule upon exactly what can and cannot be done within the existing constitutional framework and you may be sure that if he cannot hold sway over decisions in the Senate his preference would be to abolish it (as it would seem is also the preference of the NDP) so that a PM who holds a majority (preferably him of course) can have total control over legislation. Justin covers this point thusly:-
As an unelected body, there are — and ought to be — limits on the Senate’s power. These limits have expanded over time and have become conventions. These proposals are in keeping with that direction.
As you all know, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule sometime soon on the exact limits of the House of Commons power as it relates to Senate Reform. Let me be clear on this point: these proposals, while bold and concrete, are not the final word. They represent our judgment of how far we can go in the absence of guidance from the Supreme Court.
In other words, I believe this is the most meaningful action possible without opening up the Constitution. If the Supreme Court says more can be done, we will be open to doing more.
“This may be a nod to the democratic reform resolution that the federal Liberal MP caucus has proposed as one of its priority resolutions to be voted upon at the upcoming February biennial policy convention in Montreal, less than a month away now. That resolution, Bolstering Canada's Democracy, contains this operative proposal:
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT immediately after the next election, the Liberal Party of Canada institute an all-Party process, involving expert assistance and citizen participation, to report to Parliament within 12 months with analysis and recommendations for an electoral system including, without limitation, a preferential ballot and/or a form of proportional representation, to represent all Canadians more fairly and to allow Parliament to serve Canada better.I do hope the Libs endorse this resolution.
A final note here if anyone, including Justin, thinks that Harper will willingly give up his control over the conservative senators or despite his rhetoric to do so, embrace a “open, transparent, non-partisan process” for appointing them then they are dreaming in technicolour. This will be particularly true if the Cons think they are going to be in opposition come 2015, after all we wouldn’t want any one else to be able to pass legislation through the Senate would we? Watch for a highly partisan attack upon this idea from the Harper Oligarchs.