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The Only Solution To Senate Reform?

June 4, 2007

Well, it looks like Newfoundland has joined Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick in insisting that the Conservatives require provincial consent for changing the rules regarding the Senate.  BC and Saskatchewan seem to be rather lukewarm and unsatisfied with the proposed changes.

The possible end result to all of this: it seems that the Harper “incremental approach” to the Senate shall not work.  Yet I would say that the Senate need to be reformed in some manner; the status-quo of allowing for the possibility of unelected Senators blocking legislation democratically approved by the House of Commons strikes me as unacceptable.

However, it seems that there are problems with the “constitutional change approach”. There is much debate as to how the Senate should be changed. In regards to composition, do we want a triple-E Senate, status quo, readjusted regions, no Senate at all? How about the appointment of Senators: do we want them appointed by the Prime Minister, appointed by the Provinces, elected by Canadians? Not related to the Senate is the fear that re-opening the constitution would create somewhat of a constitutional crisis like Meech Lake and Charlottetown.

So what is the solution to all this. I would say that the provincial, territorial, and federal governments should agree to a citizen’s assembly process on the Senate. Let the assembly come up with a package for Senate reform. That would create a situation where the way forward in regards to the Senate would be much clearer than it is right now. That would create a situation where any constitutional debate could simply be isolated to discussion on the Senate.

The two approaches used in the present and past to get anything done in regards to the Senate have failed.  Isn’t time that a new approach is tried out?

  1. Drew Adamick
    June 4, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Yes, we do need a Citizens’ Assembly to come up with a Senate reform package- and why not also come up with one for the House of Commons at the same time!

  1. November 5, 2007 at 9:01 pm
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