Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Senate reform act. Coming soon to a Senate near you?

Take a look at the news release

Personally I think it is the best that can be expected without reopening the constitution.

The fact is that the PM gets to appoint Senators, it is his constitutional duty. IF Provinces elect candidates, and this could be anyone (even Duceppe), the PM should have to consider that democratic choice in his decision. He doesn't have to appoint them but heaven help him come next election if he does otherwise. (Quick someone ask Jack Layton if he would respect this if he ever became PM)

Oh and I believe this same principle applies to the legislation, ( again more like a suggestion per our constitution) of the PM not calling an early election in a majority situation. He can do it but come that election....toast.

As I said, the best that can be expected without opening up that can o' worms that is our Constitution.

Update: Canadian Sense had a great idea  "A substantial cut in pay/benefits for upper chamber would help with turnover and not require Constitutional talks."

That would get some of those hanging around just for the perks to willingly depart sooner.  Making it a volunteer position could also be an option....

 Another update: Pat Martin agrees


Jen said...

Noting Katy's comment in reminding GODIN that the vancon11 has ended last week, is perfectly correct.

I say that the behaviour of Godin today in parliament is out of touch with reality.

I notice that Godin didn't blow a gasket when his leader bypass the air canada union strikers picket line to take a non union airline to van.

I have this strange feeling that the NDP are going to do something drastic..so I advice Kady and others to be on the alert at all times.

Rich said...

I also read the proposal for an elected and effective Senate: I like the changes that are coming down the pipe with one exception, that being the selection is not binding on Prime Ministers and or Governer Generals; I would like to see the not binding changed to binding on subsequent Prime Ministers. I use the election of Bert Brown back in the late 90's who was overlooked for appointment by Paul Martin and Chretien. Senator Brown had to wait until 2010 to take his seat in the senate on appointment by PMSH.

jad said...

Two very basic problems with the legislation:

1) One non-renewable term, whatever its length, means that a senator is NEVER accountable.

2) What happens 9 years from now when all these Conservative senators must resign and be replaced - by a Liberal government or even an NDP government. The Tories cannot stay in power for ever, (except in Alberta, eh ?) and so you have to face up to the fact that a different government would also take over the Senate. They could also make changes to the rules which would ensure they can hang on to power ad infinitum.

The whole plan seems to me to be be badly flawed, although definitely doable given the majorities, but I have to think that the PM is aware of the pitfalls. So what exactly is his plan ???

Sixth Estate said...

jad's right, but I'd go further. Do we trust Harper's successor to follow non-binding "election" results? What about his successor? Then his? Let's face it, it's only a matter of time before somebody decides that non-binding plebiscites don't mean squat, especially if it would mean appointing an opposition Senator and losing your Senate majority in the process.

Frankly I don't trust Harper to do the right thing in that situation, either, but either way, we can't run a democracy on non-binding elections. Not unless you trust everyone who will ever be prime minister. I certainly do not.

Ardvark said...

Appointing Senators is the PMs prerogative, he is the only person who can do do. That is the way it is and the way that it will continue to be unless we open up the constitution and change it.

Maybe one day we can open up the constitution, but until that happens...IMHO this is the best we can do with the current system; which is currently broken.

Still waiting for someone to ask Jack Layton if he would respect this 'act' if he became PM?