Wednesday, November 7, 2007

End of the Senate?

I like the fact that the NDP is moving a motion to have a referendum on abolishing the Senate. I like the fact the Conservatives are supporting it.

The Canadian Senate is the worst of all worlds when it comes to governance. They are not accountable to anyone, they have nothing that they are responsible for, they have no format by which they can be measured, their geographic distribution is so patently unfair that it is beyond human understanding, and they are not all representative of the Canadian population.

The concept of the second house was created to stop the general population have the final say over governance. It dates from the times when the elites did not trust the public. The very existence of the Senate is an insult to the competency and intelligence of Canadians.

There is a sound reason to have some body within the Canadian confederation that has a same over the federal government. We are a confederation, that by its very name suggests that the provinces should have more power. A second house should exist to defend the provincial interests from federal interference, we need this house to work on keeping the ever expanding federal government in check.

Within the constitution you need seven provinces with 50% of the population to make a change to the constitution. These barriers seem to me a good way to develop a reasonable sized second house.
Ontario 30
Quebec 25
BC 20
Alberta 15
Manitoba 8
Saskatchewan 8
Nova Scotia 8
New Brunswick 6
Newfoundland 4
PEI 1

The representatives should reflect the parties elected provincially - when there is a provincial election, representatives are chosen to the "New Senate" on the basis of the seats that they won. In the case of PEI the government would get the one seat, in NFLD the government 3 and opposition one and so on on the way up the scale.

This "New Senate" would have a legitimacy that the current one lacks and would represent legitimate regional interests.

We already have a quasi equivalent to this body, the regular meetings of the first ministers. In most respects, these meetings of first ministers is Canada's real Senate.
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