Mulcair flogs a dead plan for the Senate.

When you know that you cannot possibly achieve your objective, why try to sell it? Obviously New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair is no salesman. A good sales person knows that when something is impossible, you start investigating possible work-arounds to address the issue. Mulcair is lying to Canadians that he has a solution for the Senate and he does not seem to care that the one lie taints his other promises.

What Mulcair fully understands is that Quebec will never agree to simply abolishing the Senate. Quebec and Ontario are each guaranteed 24 seats in the Senate and any change that is to be made requires the agreement of the provinces. Canada has a bicameral government under a Constitutional Monarchy and its constitution requires the agreement of both the House of Commons and the Senate to pass legislation for Royal Assent.

But there are work-arounds to the Senate problem. The Canadian public has come to despise the Senate because it is seen as a sinecure for party hacks to whom the current Prime Minister is beholden. Its reputation has been seriously tarnished and nobody seems to have a workable solution to the problems. One of the major problems is that few provinces will agree to just changing the Senate. Once the Pandora’s box of constitutional change is brought up, everybody thinks they are a horse trader.

One solution we have been thinking about is having the Senate become a proportional representation of the House of Commons. It could be completely renewed after each federal election. This would involve having proposed Senators selected after each federal election based on the share of vote of their party. In this way the party that won a majority of seats in the House of Commons with 40 per cent of the popular vote would only have 40 per cent of the seats in the Senate.

This would restore the balance while leaving Canadians with their members of parliament responsible to the electors of their ridings. Senators would be tasked to represent their party in the Senate but serving to review and revise legislation as a sober second look. As long as the Prime Minister sponsored the actual appointments on the advice of party leaders and they were eligible to serve for the different provinces, it would not require a constitutional amendment. Having each Senator sign an agreement to resign when a federal election is next called would end the appointment to age 75 problem.

With this system, we can address both the call for Senate reform and proportional representation. Parties would only offer their best and brightest for the Senate and it would become a productive partner to the House of Commons.


Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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