Tagged: Senate reform

Senate Appointments

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that he will recommend the appointment of seven new Senators to the Governor General.

A Senate Seat

A Senate Seat

The new, independent Senators will fill two vacancies in Manitoba, three in Ontario, and two in Quebec.

There is a new process announced by the Trudeau government for appointing senators to the upper house. The process is aimed at restoring the Senate to its intended role as an independent chamber of sober second thought. PM Trudeau has appointed a five-member advisory board which is to recommend to the prime minister a short list of five names for each Senate vacancy. Reforming the Senate has been a campaign promise of every political party since Confederation. Talk on the role and form of the Senate has been recurring periodically ever since. Every party, every politician can see the necessity of Senate reform but none ever introduces any meaningful legislation to do so and hence Senate reform remains a promise only and a continual haggling and waste of Parliament’s time.

What are the problems and complaints about the Senate.  Preston Manning said, “Canada’s Senate is a political science experiment gone wrong”. Perhaps the biggest complaint about the Senate is that, because it is unelected, it is undemocratic. Many Senate appointments are party supporters and cohorts of the Prime Minister of the day. If a prime minister is in power for several terms, the Senate can becomes increasingly partisan.

The Senate has become a source of scandal over expenses and cover-up. It has become obvious that the Senate requires a higher level of accountability, term limits imposed and method to make it less partisan so that it can become the house of Second Sober Thought that it was created to be.

Barring a proper and appropriate make over, many feel that the Senate should just be abolished and save the millions of dollars per year the Senate costs to operate.

Personally, I believe Canada needs the Senate as long as it can be run non-partisan or at least representative. “No nation should be under unchecked, single-chamber government … It must also be remembered that, under our system, the power of the Cabinet tends to grow at the expense of the House of Commons … The Senate is not so much a check on the House of Commons as it is upon the Cabinet, and there can be no doubt that its influence in this respect is salutary.” (Sir Clifford Sifton, “The New Era in Canada”: 1917)

Will the PMs appointment board work to allay peoples doubts? – Remains to be seen. What is your thought?

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