An alternative to the abolition of the Senate

127 posts / 0 new
Last post
montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The whole structure of the senate guarantees there will always be more scandals. I think the NDP have been keeping a history on it, but there have been Senate problems since 1867. It is simply a trough for friends of the prime minister and his/her political party. We have both the supreme court and the provinces. We are governed enough without this trough. The senate has provided absolutely no social benefit, no environmental benefit, and no economic benefit to any Canadian. Why are we paying for something which gives us back no benefit? $3.00 per Canadian per year for nothing. It's an insult to every single Canadian.

Anyone who loves senate tradition is a boot licker.

As far as Quebec goes, the Constitution can remain unsigned with or without a senate.

Get rid of it before it does any harm, and forget about defeatism. Look how well senate defeatism has worked over the years. We must force all provinces to abolish the senate. Where there is a will, there is a way, and we need to rip this senate cancer out of our democracy. The Canadian senate is an international disgrace. Abolish it now.

Caissa

I think the 1867 appointments to the Senate were by partisan, if my memory serves me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_senators_in_the_1st_Parliament_of_Canada

Pondering

montrealer58 wrote:

As far as Quebec goes, the Constitution can remain unsigned with or without a senate.

Get rid of it before it does any harm, and forget about defeatism. Look how well senate defeatism has worked over the years. We must force all provinces to abolish the senate. Where there is a will, there is a way, and we need to rip this senate cancer out of our democracy. The Canadian senate is an international disgrace. Abolish it now.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Senate cannot be abolished without the agreement of all the provinces. If Quebec won't sign the constitution then the Senate cannot legally be abolished without desolving Canada.

I don't think Canadians are willing to desolve Canada to get rid of the Senate. 

You can't abolish the Senate without amending the constitution. 

Quebec will not sign the constitution.

Ergo, you can't abolish the Senate without Quebec agreeing to Quebec's demands.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Pondering wrote:

You can't abolish the Senate without amending the constitution. 

Quebec will not sign the constitution.

Ergo, you can't abolish the Senate without Quebec agreeing to Quebec's demands.

I am not a lawyer, although I once was for while back in the bronze age. Still, I think this is an interesting question. Could Quebec give its agreement to a constitutional amendment (such as abolishing the senate) without first agreeing to the constitution? I can imagine legal arguments both ways, but I can't guess how it would go, if indeed such a thing were politically possible, which it probably isn't.

Pondering

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Pondering wrote:

You can't abolish the Senate without amending the constitution. 

Quebec will not sign the constitution.

Ergo, you can't abolish the Senate without Quebec agreeing to Quebec's demands.

I am not a lawyer, although I once was for while back in the bronze age. Still, I think this is an interesting question. Could Quebec give its agreement to a constitutional amendment (such as abolishing the senate) without first agreeing to the constitution? I can imagine legal arguments both ways, but I can't guess how it would go, if indeed such a thing were politically possible, which it probably isn't.

What would be the other argument? (I know nothing about law)

If you sign an amendment to a contract, have you not endorsed that contract by default? 

On the other hand, the constitution applies in Quebec regardless of the lack of Quebec's signature. 

So if the constitution could be become effective without Quebec's signature, why would amending it require their signature?

My guess is because it dates to 1867, the creation of Canada. Is that not in essence a contract between the provinces? 

The SC seems to have ruled that the Senate forms an integral part of the contract that is Canada. 

 

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Pondering wrote:

What would be the other argument? (I know nothing about law)

If you sign an amendment to a contract, have you not endorsed that contract by default? 

On the other hand, the constitution applies in Quebec regardless of the lack of Quebec's signature. 

So if the constitution could be become effective without Quebec's signature, why would amending it require their signature?

My guess is because it dates to 1867, the creation of Canada. Is that not in essence a contract between the provinces? 

The SC seems to have ruled that the Senate forms an integral part of the contract that is Canada. 

Well, the other argument is that the constitution has come into effect without Quebec's agreement (for reasons and by means I have not really researched), but that doesn't prevent the amendment provisions from applying. So, Quebec might approve an amendment without ever approving the original document. The analogy with a private contract is invalid because constitutional questions are above normal contract law, which depends for its validity on a constitution of some sort.

Caissa

Would the Meech Lake Accord not provide an example where Quebec supported constitutional amendments?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Caissa wrote:

Would the Meech Lake Accord not provide an example where Quebec supported constitutional amendments?

Yes, but in that case, part of the package was Quebec signing the constitution. BTW, I supported Meech at the time, and was quite disappointed when P. E. Trudeau came back from the political graveyard to inspire his acolytes Clyde Wells and Sharon Carstairs to scuttle it.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Caissa wrote:

Would the Meech Lake Accord not provide an example where Quebec supported constitutional amendments?

Yes, but in that case, part of the package was Quebec signing the constitution. BTW, I supported Meech at the time, and was quite disappointed when P. E. Trudeau came back from the political graveyard to inspire his acolytes Clyde Wells and Sharon Carstairs to scuttle it.

Manitoba NDP MLA Elijah Harper also helped to scuttle it, so it would have failed even with the support of Newfoundland.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Pondering wrote:

What would be the other argument? (I know nothing about law)

If you sign an amendment to a contract, have you not endorsed that contract by default? 

On the other hand, the constitution applies in Quebec regardless of the lack of Quebec's signature. 

So if the constitution could be become effective without Quebec's signature, why would amending it require their signature?

My guess is because it dates to 1867, the creation of Canada. Is that not in essence a contract between the provinces? 

The SC seems to have ruled that the Senate forms an integral part of the contract that is Canada. 

Well, the other argument is that the constitution has come into effect without Quebec's agreement (for reasons and by means I have not really researched), but that doesn't prevent the amendment provisions from applying. So, Quebec might approve an amendment without ever approving the original document. The analogy with a private contract is invalid because constitutional questions are above normal contract law, which depends for its validity on a constitution of some sort.

The other argument is that Quebec could pass a constitutional ammendment to abolish the senate through it's legislature, and if all other provinces do likewise, the ammendment comes into force despite Quebec having not signed the original document.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I actually think it would be possible to get unaminous consent among the provinces for senate abolition.

[rest of my post edited out as I now think Quebec could pass an ammendment to abolish the senate through it's provincial legislature without signing the constitution, which would satisfy the SCC's ruling (unless they rule that it doesn't)]

 

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The SCOC ruling said the provinces and Quebec can abolish the Senate if they consent. It did not require Quebec to sign on to the constitution.

Northern PoV

Of course Quebec COULD accept abolition and you can probably cook up a poll to say Quebeckers agree with you. 

The political class in Quebec (of any stripe) will not acquiesce to Senate abolition – where they hold 24 seats/23% of seats – without some major quid pro quo that the rest of Canada can't agree with.  Want to join lying Brian and 'roll the dice'? 

Northern PoV

Oh and speaking of unanimous consent, there are four little provinces on our east coast that punch high above their weight in the Senate.

30 seats/28% of seats with just 7% of our population.  I know this is a great argument foe reform – but the US Senators from Wyoming may disagree with you as might some parochial politicians in the Atlantic provinces. 

Northern PoV

So we can chase Senate reform and have a huge constitutional imbroglio that divides the nation, goes nowhere and burns up the political will needed to address real problems.

OR

Fix the appointment process, curtail the dubious expense regimes and stay focused on fixing some of the damage of the past 8 years.

OR

Maintain the status quo where-in the Senate is the perpetual election ploy of unscrupulous politicians.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

41% of Canadians are with us in wishing for the complete abolition of the Senate.

This point of view must be the minimum negotiating standpoint for the left, as it is NDP policy. If we wind up with something better than the present situation, we have all won. So I will continue to argue strenuously for its abolition, as no one has given any reason to keep it.

If 7% of the population wants to keep 28% of the votes, and that is your best argument for keeping the senate, it is all the more reason it should be abolished.

If you are saying that we should not attempt to abolish the senate because some people are going to object to the removal of unfair advantage and privilege, you are using the general argument against the Senate to promote it.

Even people in the Atlantic provinces know that senate privilege does not put any chickens in their pots.

Pondering

montrealer58 wrote:

41% of Canadians are with us in wishing for the complete abolition of the Senate.

This point of view must be the minimum negotiating standpoint for the left, as it is NDP policy. If we wind up with something better than the present situation, we have all won. So I will continue to argue strenuously for its abolition, as no one has given any reason to keep it.

If 7% of the population wants to keep 28% of the votes, and that is your best argument for keeping the senate, it is all the more reason it should be abolished.

If you are saying that we should not attempt to abolish the senate because some people are going to object to the removal of unfair advantage and privilege, you are using the general argument against the Senate to promote it.

Even people in the Atlantic provinces know that senate privilege does not put any chickens in their pots.

No, we are saying the legal requirements for abolishing the senate are virtually impossible. If you want to keep it in your back pocket as the 50 year plan go ahead but it won't get the NDP elected.

Reform is something that can be done right away without involving the provinces so it is at the very least the best first step.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

We have aleady established that Quebec does not have to sign on to the Constitution (which it is subjected to anyway) in order to accede to the abolition of the Senate. If we keep up the pressure on the federal government and all provinces, they will accede.

As far as the 7% of the population having 28% of the seats is concerned in Atlantic Canada, we have to get with the times and embrace a 2500-year-old concept called Democracy. It tends to work quite well you know.

To say that senate abolition or reform is impossible is simply being reactionary.

Pondering

montrealer58 wrote:

We have aleady established that Quebec does not have to sign on to the Constitution (which it is subjected to anyway) in order to accede to the abolition of the Senate. If we keep up the pressure on the federal government and all provinces, they will accede.

As far as the 7% of the population having 28% of the seats is concerned in Atlantic Canada, we have to get with the times and embrace a 2500-year-old concept called Democracy. It tends to work quite well you know.

To say that senate abolition or reform is impossible is simply being reactionary.

It's not impossible. It is dumb to ignore reform as a first step because logistically senate abolition even if successful would take countless years to achieve.

In a treaty with Canada, the US can't claim to have a bigger vote because they have more citizens. Likewise the provinces joining Canada did so as equal partners regardless of their number of citizens. In order to maintain a voice larger than their population the Senate was divided up by region not population. That is a deliberate feature not an oversight.

Jacob Two-Two

Deliberate, but obviously useless. What real pull does this give these smaller provinces? it's an illusion of influence that does more harm than good, and maintaining that illusion is not worth the drain on our treasury or democracy.

Certainly at one time, there was strong support for the Senate as a counterbalance, but I think the new generations aren't falling for that nonsense, and consider the greater good over regional interests. Your objections belong to another century.

Good thing you weren't around to discourage everyone when women were trying to get the vote. That was a lot more "impossible" in its time than this is now. Senate abolition is a great idea (notice that you haven't even tried to dispute this point) and totally doable.

People who defend the cult of impotence that exemplifies the Liberal party want us all to believe that trying to create change is pointless. This validates their complete lack of action on all fronts. But there is nothing that holds us back but political will, and we have a chance now to seize that and make a positive change in our country. never let the Ponderings of the world tell you it can't be done. All of history is the story of how impossible things got done. How things changed, when all the status quo sheep said that it couldn't.

Abolishing the Senate is the least of what we can do as a country. It is only a tiny first step to creating a truly rational and equitable system. But it is something that needs to be done, and is getting a lot of attention right now. Strike while the iron is hot, ignore the Lib/Con cult of impotence, and get something done for a change.

Pondering

Jacob Two-Two wrote:

Deliberate, but obviously useless. What real pull does this give these smaller provinces? it's an illusion of influence that does more harm than good, and maintaining that illusion is not worth the drain on our treasury or democracy.

Certainly at one time, there was strong support for the Senate as a counterbalance, but I think the new generations aren't falling for that nonsense, and consider the greater good over regional interests. Your objections belong to another century.

Good thing you weren't around to discourage everyone when women were trying to get the vote. That was a lot more "impossible" in its time than this is now. Senate abolition is a great idea (notice that you haven't even tried to dispute this point) and totally doable.

People who defend the cult of impotence that exemplifies the Liberal party want us all to believe that trying to create change is pointless. This validates their complete lack of action on all fronts. But there is nothing that holds us back but political will, and we have a chance now to seize that and make a positive change in our country. never let the Ponderings of the world tell you it can't be done. All of history is the story of how impossible things got done. How things changed, when all the status quo sheep said that it couldn't.

Abolishing the Senate is the least of what we can do as a country. It is only a tiny first step to creating a truly rational and equitable system. But it is something that needs to be done, and is getting a lot of attention right now. Strike while the iron is hot, ignore the Lib/Con cult of impotence, and get something done for a change.

No, I am saying that reform can take care of the worst aspects rapidly.  The process of abolishing the senate would dominate Canadian politics for years distracting us from from much more serious challenges.

Jacob Two-Two

The most serious challenge is the disenfranchisement that ordinary people feel from politics. No matter what issue you bring up, you'll have plenty of people just like yourself telling us it can't be done. Everything's always impossible. Climate change? Nothing we can do. Income equality? Have to let the market handle it. The immoral and outright illegal bahaviour of the financial community? Too big to fail. Or prosecute. Or even regulate, apparently.

No matter what the problem, the Ponderings are always there to tell us that we're helpless and it is useless to resist. The notion that this would take up years of political conflict relies on the notion that there would be Provincial governments fighting it for years. If they don't fight it, then it takes almost no effort at all. I don't think they would take the political risk of making a big fight over such an unpopular institution.

But regardless, people need to feel like they can make changes. That they don't have to accept a corrupt status quo. So what does the Liberal party offer anyone in that way? nothing is the answer, as always. Just business as usual, maintain the status quo, never try to improve or change anything in a meaningful way.

The worst thing Canadians could do is listen to people like you.

JKR

Jacob Two-Two wrote:

The most serious challenge is the disenfranchisement that ordinary people feel from politics. No matter what issue you bring up, you'll have plenty of people just like yourself telling us it can't be done. Everything's always impossible. Climate change? Nothing we can do. Income equality? Have to let the market handle it. The immoral and outright illegal bahaviour of the financial community? Too big to fail. Or prosecute. Or even regulate, apparently.

No matter what the problem, the Ponderings are always there to tell us that we're helpless and it is useless to resist. The notion that this would take up years of political conflict relies on the notion that there would be Provincial governments fighting it for years. If they don't fight it, then it takes almost no effort at all. I don't think they would take the political risk of making a big fight over such an unpopular institution.

But regardless, people need to feel like they can make changes. That they don't have to accept a corrupt status quo. So what does the Liberal party offer anyone in that way? nothing is the answer, as always. Just business as usual, maintain the status quo, never try to improve or change anything in a meaningful way.

....

If done the right way, opening up formal discussions on modernizing the constitution could be a very healthy enterprise for Canada.
Amongst other things, the Senate should either be abolished or radically reformed; First Nations rights should be enshrined; Quebec's signature should be on the constitution; the basic necessities of life should be guaranteed in the constitution; and the environment should be protected in the constitution, etc....

Mulroney's efforts at modernizing the constitution were doomed because he didn't allow for any real input from the people during the process of constitutional negotiations. The Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords were both insider agreements between the federal and provincial governments in office at the time. Even the opposition parties at the provincial and federal levels were ignored in the process. So a process that included input from all the majour political parties at the federal and provincial level, experts in constitutional reform and other areas such as First Nations rights, poverty, and the environment, and most importantly of all, the general public, would likely provide a process that would improve our basic political framework.

Caissa

Speaking as a NBer, I doubt the Maritime provinces will enthusiastically support the abolition of the Senate. For example, the Senate's existence is what guarantees PEI 4 and NB 10, H of C seats.

JKR

Future of the Senate: majority of Canadians split between abolishing, reforming the Red Chamber; Angus Reid; April 7, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:

Reform the Senate: 45%

Abolish the Senate: 41%

Maintain Senate as is: 14%

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

I think "join with the rest of Canada and abolish this den of thieves" would sell quite well.

Because of the preponderance of Atlantic seats, the roulette ball is more likely to fall on one of those places when the next scandal happens. Because of its structure, opprobrium is 4 times what is deserved.

Caissa

The Maritimes joined Canada partially because the Senate provided some counter-balance to the tyranny of rep by pop. I'm sure Atlantic Canada would be happy to discuss some reforms to the Senate that continue to provide for regional representation.

Pondering

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
  The most serious challenge is the disenfranchisement that ordinary people feel from politics. No matter what issue you bring up, you'll have plenty of people just like yourself telling us it can't be done. Everything's always impossible. Climate change? Nothing we can do. Income equality? Have to let the market handle it. The immoral and outright illegal bahaviour of the financial community? Too big to fail. Or prosecute. Or even regulate, apparently.

Bullshit. There is a cost/benefit analysis to everything we do, even washing the dishes. The benefits to tackling climate change and income inequality are huge therefore they are worthy of great effort. So much so that if anything we should be focusing all our efforts on those two issues. In particular income inequality because that comes close to focusing on the oligarchs who we have to defeat to win on climate change.

If the Senate vanished all it would do is save us a bit of money and make the PM even more powerful. It isn't among the top issues or challenges facing Canada. The NDP opposition to the senate is ideologically based.

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
No matter what the problem, the Ponderings are always there to tell us that we're helpless and it is useless to resist. The notion that this would take up years of political conflict relies on the notion that there would be Provincial governments fighting it for years. If they don't fight it, then it takes almost no effort at all. I don't think they would take the political risk of making a big fight over such an unpopular institution. 

The provinces don't have to have a big fight. All they have to do is say no. They don't even have to give a reason why not. Quebecers aren't going to decide on a provincial government based on senate reform. I doubt it would be the deciding or even contributing factor in any provincial election.

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
But regardless, people need to feel like they can make changes. That they don't have to accept a corrupt status quo. So what does the Liberal party offer anyone in that way? nothing is the answer, as always. Just business as usual, maintain the status quo, never try to improve or change anything in a meaningful way. 

First you have to convince people that you have a better alternative to the status quo which is also supported by the NDP. The NDP has no intention of making significant changes to the status quo. They aren't even making an argument for it.

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
The worst thing Canadians could do is listen to people like you.

The worst thing Canadians could do is to elect Harper for another 4 year majority run. The worst thing progressives could do is to believe the NDP is the Canadian Syriza.

Mulcair is doing exactly what Harper has done for social conservatives. Give them tidbits to give them hope.

JKR


Nanos Survey - Positions on the Senate; April 24-27, 2015:

Quote:

Reform the Senate: 52%

Abolish the Senate: 38%

Leave the Senate as it is: 6%

Unsure: 4%

http://www.nanosresearch.com/library/polls/POLNAT-S15-T641.pdf

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

... the Senate's existence is what guarantees PEI 4 and NB 10, H of C seats.

Surely you mean, PEI 3 and Ottawa 1?

 

Sean in Ottawa

Caissa wrote:

Speaking as a NBer, I doubt the Maritime provinces will enthusiastically support the abolition of the Senate. For example, the Senate's existence is what guarantees PEI 4 and NB 10, H of C seats.

Actually I disagree with this statement.

Yes, section 51A provides that a Province does not have fewer seats in the House than it does in the Senate but that is not the only protection of the number of House of Commons Seats. Section 51 (1) 2 provides that a province cannot lose seats to be below the number of seats allocated to them historically when the Constitution came into force:

"If the number of members assigned to a province by the application of rule 1 and section 51A is less than the total number assigned to that province on the date of the coming into force of the Constitution Act, 1985 (Representation), there shall be added to the number of members so assigned such number of members as will result in the province having the same number of members as were assigned on that date."

This means those seat numbers are protected even without the Senate.

As well, if we agree that a Constitutional agreement would be required to abolish the Senate it seems obvious that smaller provinces would seek to see any protections they have strengthened (if they are wanting in any way) as a part of the negotiation for their support. I don't see the Senate as being necessary to maintain a minimum number of House seats.

I think there may well be other more compelling reasons why the smaller provinces would want to keep the Senate. Not least is the issue of losing a chamber where they have a proportionally larger say. For PEI, 4 Senate seats out of 105 is a much greater weight than 4 in 338. Atlantic Canada has 30 Senators, more than 25% of the Senate while in the House they have significantly less than 10% of the seats. In practical terms Atlantic Canada and the Territories need the support of any one of Ontario, Quebec or the Western Provinces to prevail in the Senate. Ontario and Quebec have more than half the seats in the House of Commons and less than half in the Senate. This means that in the House, in theory at least, the interest of Central Canada can trump all the small Provinces and Territories combined even if those provinces gain the support of Alberta and BC. In the Senate the small provinces and territories combined come to 45/105 where as in the House they come to 63 /338.

NorthReport

Close to 40% of Canadians already want the pig sty abolished.

Mulcair should run on abolishing it even though it would require constitutional change because it ties Harper directly into Duffygate.

If the NDP form the government they can easily move that percentage to over 50% and the required shakeup in the Senate could then occur.

Sean in Ottawa

NorthReport wrote:

Close to 40% of Canadians already want the pig sty abolished.

Mulcair should run on abolishing it even though it would require constitutional change because it ties Harper directly into Duffygate.

If the NDP form the government they can easily move that percentage to over 50% and the required shakeup in the Senate could then occur.

Obviously I disagree. I think it is divisive and unnecessary to run on this. I think a policy of creating a constitutional conference of the federation for the purpose of either abolishing or deeply reforming the Senate is preferable. Nobody would be against that and there would be no regional arguments made. That conference could produce either an abolished Senate with some other way of answering the concerns that exist or a reformed Senate beyond the reach of PMO appointment that is more efficient and appropriate to our era. The same conference could look at a number of democratic issues including the extension of PMO powers, requirements for meetings with the heads of the federation, better public accountability built in to the Constitution and strengthened public infomration. Consitutional protection for the independence of the management of federal elections could also be on the agenda. The objective would be to to take out of the PMO's reach some of those levers Harper found to obstruct democracy, damage institutions and deliver unfair elections.

My preference remains having a body replace the existing Senate that is charged with inquiry and delivery of information to the public about legislation. In an era of omnibus bills this is an essential protection. The new body should have the ability to delay but not prevent passage of legislation so the public is aware of what the government is doing before it becomes law.The new body should be diverse by design reflecting the community rather than the whim of the PM.

All this is more important to the health of the Canadian dmocracy than the relatively small amounts of money wasted by the Senate. If such a repurposing of the Senate becomes impossible then let abolition be an option but not without a strong consideration of what that means. The Senate is not completely powerless. If you remove its power you have to consider where that power goes. In the present context the PMO is a magnet to any power and the abolition of the Senate, in the current context only make a PM even stronger.

Let's not forget the dramatic hold a PM has over the governing caucus. The PM may appoint Senators (for now) but there is little more the PM can do to punish or reward them compared to any other federal institution. Leaving all power back in the hands of the PM, a cabinet of cheerleaders and acaucus of barking seals does not leave me thinking we have accomplished much. The ability of the PM to ram through legislation before it can be seen by the public would have been enhanced.

If the Senate is to go rather than be reformed it must be replaced. If not with a public body as I outlined -- would that be a legal commission of lawyers to consider and report the legal ramifacations of legislation before it becomes law? Useful better than nothing but not as good as what I propose.

The federal government has direct authority over many Aboriginal People. A council set up by them with an opportunity to review and report on the implacations to them might be somethign we can consider -- although this would be included in the reformed body I propose.

Canadians should get to see and understand the meaning of these changes. I would not advise the NDP to presume what the final result is before the consitutional convention is established and hears from Canadians. Taking the Senate out of the picture in out context is not as simple as some make out. And its removal would be more than just a saving of money, it could represent a lost opportunity for what we could do with its functions. It could represent a lost opportunity fro a mechanism to review legislation and inform the public. Let's not let anger at this institution blind us to the risks of acting with haste or the opportunity of what we could do with some consideration. And there is a lot more wrong with our democracy than the Senate. Its reform could be designed to address some of that.

Unionist

I still think the Commons is in more urgent need of reform than the Senate. Nothing actually happens there. There's a pretence, worthy of the Emperor's new clothes, that legislation is created, debated, and decided there - even though everyone knows that the votes are decided in secret party caucuses, and the laws are decided by secret majority-government cabinet meetings (or just the PMO, then delivered to cabinet and caucus by royal courier or something). It's actually incredible that no one challenges this murky despotism.

At least in the Senate, there are occasional signs of dissent from the party line. And does anyone really believe the Senate expenses and spending scandals can possibly be worse than whatever goes on in the Commons?

 

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

I still think the Commons is in more urgent need of reform than the Senate. Nothing actually happens there. There's a pretence, worthy of the Emperor's new clothes, that legislation is created, debated, and decided there - even though everyone knows that the votes are decided in secret party caucuses, and the laws are decided by secret majority-government cabinet meetings (or just the PMO, then delivered to cabinet and caucus by royal courier or something). It's actually incredible that no one challenges this murky despotism.

At least in the Senate, there are occasional signs of dissent from the party line. And does anyone really believe the Senate expenses and spending scandals can possibly be worse than whatever goes on in the Commons?

 

I agree with you completely here.

I think the reform of the Senate might be something we contemplate in the context of what is wrong with the House.

I am unhappy with all three popular choices presently being proposed:

Elected Senate/abolished Senate/status quo

I think they are all disasters.

JKR

Caissa wrote:

Speaking as a NBer, I doubt the Maritime provinces will enthusiastically support the abolition of the Senate. For example, the Senate's existence is what guarantees PEI 4 and NB 10, H of C seats.

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:

Atlantic Canada:

Reform the Senate: 60%

Abolish the Senate: 34%

Maintain Senate as is: 4%

Unsure: 2%

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.

JKR

People on the prairies also seem to support Senate reform more than Senate abolition.

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:

Prairies:

Reform the Senate: 59.0%

Abolish the Senate: 30.5%

Maintain Senate as is: 4.5%

Unsure: 6%

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.

Pondering

JKR wrote:

 

People on the prairies also seem to support Senate reform more than Senate abolition.

 

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:
Prairies:

Reform the Senate: 59.0%

Abolish the Senate: 30.5%

Maintain Senate as is: 4.5%

Unsure: 6%

 

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.

But it isn't up to them. It is up to the political class.

Sean in Ottawa

In a regional country the Senate can be designed to have a purpose. It needs to be completely rebuilt in a Constitutional conference. Quebec can be party to this round and so can Aboriginal Peoples. This is not an easy negotiation but it remains easier than ramming abolition over the objections of all of the smaller provinces which is what these polls are telling you.

There is no support for the Senate as it currently exists. There is significant support for a redefined and reformed Senate. The NDP is missing the conversation if they do not see this. I object to the polarization between status quo and abolition. The NDP will seriously miscalculate if it does not see this.

The NDP has a great deal to bring to the table in terms of limiting PMO powers, reforming democracy and respecing regions. These ideas should be at the centre of the debate over reform of the Senate. A stubborn call for abolition only takes the NDP out of an essential national discussion about what this institution will become.

The NDP can go into the discussion with a preference for abolition but it must come with a plan B as to what the Senate can be so that the NDP can influence the result if it is determined that abolition is either not possible, not wise or not the choice of regions or large numbers of Canadians. Abolition or bust is a major mistake as I have said for several years now.

My preference is for an unprecidented public convention to look at the remaking of parliament including what the Senate is. At the end of that the parties can take firm positions. But for now, we shold ahve a very public inquiry into the possibilities. Ideally the final package could be put to a vote.

As others have said the Senate is only part of the reforms required. How we run elections, how we finance parties, how we review legislation, how we maintain diversity, how we replace FPTP, how Aboriginal peoples relate to the the rest of Canada, how we limit the powers of the PMO are all elements of a reform package Canadians should be able to participate in rather than it be sold to them by a party hiding the detailsm seeking its own advantage and avoiding an essential public process. This is what I would want to see as NDP policy. I suspect it would be a hands down winner.

JKR

Pondering wrote:

JKR wrote:

 

People on the prairies also seem to support Senate reform more than Senate abolition.

 

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:
Prairies:

Reform the Senate: 59.0%

Abolish the Senate: 30.5%

Maintain Senate as is: 4.5%

Unsure: 6%

 

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.

But it isn't up to them. It is up to the political class.

It seems to me that the "political class" takes into consideration the opinion of large segments of the population.

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

In a regional country the Senate can be designed to have a purpose. It needs to be completely rebuilt in a Constitutional conference. Quebec can be party to this round and so can Aboriginal Peoples.

Considering the current political makeup of the provinces, as federal prime minister, Mulcair could have many natural partners in establishing a constitutional conference. I can see the Quebec provincial Liberal government cooperating with their former cabinet member. I think Mulcair would love to get Quebec's formal approval and signature on the Constitution. Wynne's government in Ontario also seems like they could work with a federal NDP government. The Atlantic provinces seem like they would too. Now that Alberta has an NDP government instead of a PC government, a constitutional compromise seems more doable with some like Mulcair. Even BC and Sask's governments seem like they wouldn't be intransigent.

Quebec's status within Canada, First Nations rights, Senate Reform, and improving democracy in general, are all uncompleted constitutional issues from the 1990's that someone like Mulcair could be particularly successfully dealing with. Maybe that's one reason Brian Mulroney has praised Mulcair?

Sean in Ottawa

JKR wrote:
Sean in Ottawa wrote:

In a regional country the Senate can be designed to have a purpose. It needs to be completely rebuilt in a Constitutional conference. Quebec can be party to this round and so can Aboriginal Peoples.

 

Considering the current political makeup of the provinces, as federal prime minister, Mulcair could have many natural partners in establishing a constitutional conference. I can see the Quebec provincial Liberal government cooperating with their former cabinet member. I think Mulcair would love to get Quebec's formal approval and signature on the Constitution. Wynne's government in Ontario also seems like they could work with a federal NDP government. The Atlantic provinces seem like they would too. Now that Alberta has an NDP government instead of a PC government, a constitutional compromise seems more doable with some like Mulcair. Even BC and Sask's governments seem like they wouldn't be intransigent.

Quebec's status within Canada, First Nations rights, Senate Reform, and improving democracy in general, are all uncompleted constitutional issues from the 1990's that someone like Mulcair could be particularly successfully dealing with. Maybe that's one reason Brian Mulroney has praised Mulcair?

Perhaps yes.

I think that success in this case may also be because this is a better time. There is greater consenus now than we have had in a generation for some of these items. I do not see this negotiation being as difficult as it was in the past.

Pondering

JKR wrote:
Pondering wrote:

JKR wrote:

 

People on the prairies also seem to support Senate reform more than Senate abolition.

 

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:
Prairies:

Reform the Senate: 59.0%

Abolish the Senate: 30.5%

Maintain Senate as is: 4.5%

Unsure: 6%

 

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.

But it isn't up to them. It is up to the political class.

 

It seems to me that the "political class" takes into consideration the opinion of large segments of the population.

They take the opinion of the public into account on ballot box issues and in areas where they think they can deliver or in which not delivering won't get them into too much trouble. The economy is THE ballot box question. Whichever parties are deemed acceptable on that question are in the running based on secondary issues.

In my opinion the Liberals are going to attack Harper and Mulcair on the economy while presenting themselves as the balanced choice able to both protect the economy and support the middle class and reduce poverty.

Sean in Ottawa

I am begining to wonder if the pathetic out-of-touch arguments presented here for the Liberal party may be representative of what the party will be offereing. If that is the case, will that party survive the year?

One thing is clear, Trudeau's absolute incompetence and inability to stand for a principle that is not nailed to a vote (in his mind), means that there will be multiple ballot box questions rather than a single one.

1) Who can be trusted to manage the economy for the entire population (and not just as rhetoric for the vanishing "middle class") will be a ballot box question (and the answer will very likely not be Trudeau)

2) How much more can Trudeau sscrew up as PM than he could as leader of the third party?

3) Do voters want change or just a younger prettier Harper with a penchant for sayings omewhat nicer things that only hard core Liberals can believe?

4) Should voters send the Conservatives and the Liberals to the same place: the dustbin they deserve?

5) Ethics and democracy? -- the guy who believes in basic dictatorship and voting for what he does not believe in out of cowardice is definitely not qualified.

Unionist

I would add question #6:

6) Weren't we talking about the Senate??

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

I would add question #6:

6) Weren't we talking about the Senate??

See question 5

Pondering

Unionist wrote:

I would add question #6:

6) Weren't we talking about the Senate??

Good point, sorry. It's difficult to avoid the political aspect. Sean's vision of what a senate could look like is terrific but I don't think it is any more feasible than senate abolition. Improving the appointment process, barring partisan activities, greater transparency, etc. are doable in the short term without any constitutional conferences or even input from the provinces.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Unionist wrote:

I would add question #6:

6) Weren't we talking about the Senate??

Good point, sorry. It's difficult to avoid the political aspect. Sean's vision of what a senate could look like is terrific but I don't think it is any more feasible than senate abolition. Improving the appointment process, barring partisan activities, greater transparency, etc. are doable in the short term without any constitutional conferences or even input from the provinces.

To others: Already explained but Pondering ignores conversation and recycles arguments ignoring what has been said so for her the below is as good a response as any. Especially since she thinks this community (other than her) is stupid.

For Pondering:

Rash: Breaking out (eruption) of the skin. A rash can be caused by an underlying medical condition, allergies, or contact with irritating substances. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the rash. Medically, a rash is referred to as an exanthem.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Unionist wrote:

I would add question #6:

6) Weren't we talking about the Senate??

See question 5

You mean this: "5) Ethics and democracy? -- the guy who believes in basic dictatorship and voting for what he does not believe in out of cowardice is definitely not qualified."

That describes whipped Commons votes perfectly. So how is it relevant to alternatives to Senate abolition??

thorin_bane

JKR wrote:

 

People on the prairies also seem to support Senate reform more than Senate abolition.

 

Angus Reid; April 27, 2015.

http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2015.03.08-Future-of-the...

Quote:
Prairies:

Reform the Senate: 59.0%

Abolish the Senate: 30.5%

Maintain Senate as is: 4.5%

Unsure: 6%

 

It does seem that people from the Atlantic provinces prefer reforming the Senate.


no it doesn't Sask/man was 52% while alberta was 27% Not sure where you even got your numbers from. Just get rid of this dodo. The people that want to get rid of it most is quebec. Who everyone is worried would scuttle any talks about getting rid of it. And ATL was 39% from the link you went to. What numbers are you looking at?

Pages