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Changes To The Senate On The Way?

November 5, 2007

Jack Layton and the NDP are going to propose a motion in the House calling for a referendum asking Canadians if they want to abolish the Senate, and apparently, Harper and the Conservatives shall be supporting it.

Now, the NDP motion is simply an extension of long-held NDP policy (since 1932, I believe) of abolishing the Senate, and is nothing recent, as some will try to tell you. Remember Lillian Dyck? She is sitting as a “Independent New Democrat” (aka: not a party approved New Democrat) in the Senate right now because the NDP would not allow a senator join the caucus.

The interesting thing, of course, is what the Liberal majority Senate would do if this motion passed the House of Commons and was voted on in the Senate. Would they vote for the motion. Would they vote against it, trying to stop a process that would take away their jobs? If the Liberals did vote against it, it would be playing right into the Conservatives “Not A Leader: Senate Edition” message.

Now on the motion itself: I’m personally in favour of creating a “Citizen Assembly On Senate Reform” and let’s them decide what kind of action should be taken, approved by a referendum. But, hey, I don’t think that the current Senate is acceptable in today’s world, and abolition sounds like an acceptable alternative to me.

I think the key here is that Canadians would make the decision.Hopefully, a referendum, no matter the result, would cause needed discussion on what needs to be done with the Senate.

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  1. Mike
    November 6, 2007 at 3:06 am

    Years ago, provinces like British Columbia and Alberta were clamouring for a Triple-E Senate. Now with their higher than average increase in their populations, their citizens realize that they have very little to gain with a Triple-E Senate. This doesn’t mean that some kind of Senate reform is not desirable–just not a Triple-E model.

    If a referendum were held to abolish the Senate, I could see the wording to indicate abolishing the EXISTING Senate. That way, abolitionists and reformers can vote the same way.

  2. November 6, 2007 at 5:19 am

    Are House motions normally voted on in the Senate at all? It probably couldn’t hurt if a concurrent motion were put before the Senate, but my impression was that a motion is nothing more than an expression of the will of a single chamber (unlike legislation which needs to be approved by both chambers)…

  1. November 7, 2007 at 7:27 pm
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