Top blog posts: SHOULD THE SENATE BE ABOLISHED?

Every so often we are republishing posts that are or were particularly important. From  September 2009, this page is the second most-visited on neilmckenty.com

SHOULD THE SENATE BE ABOLISHED?

Some years ago when the Liberals were in power,  Stephen Harper charged that the Canadian senate was a dumping ground for political friends and party hacks.  Yet Mr. Harper has just appointed nine of his political friends and party hacks to the Senate including Jacques Demers, the former Canadiens hockey coach who once admitted publicly that he was functionally illiterate.

There are 105 senators all appointed at the whim of the sitting prime minister.   They make $132,000 a year (for sitting four days a week), fly around Canada free and receive generous pensions after they retire at the age of 75.

The senate is supposed to be the chamber of “sober second thought”  examining bills already passed by the Commons.  But can you imagine the unelected senate holding up a bill that has been passed by the elected house of Commons?  There would be a constitutional crisis.

So what is the po int of the Senate?  Should it be abolished?

What do you think?

Posted by Neil McKenty on September 1, 2009 at 1:08 pm
Filed under Uncategorized  |  Leave a comment

8 Comments »

Paul Costopoulos Says:

The Senate should go the way of Québec’s former Legislative council, that is be abolished. We need only the Commons. The Senate harks back to the House of Lords and to the Colonial Office. They are all past their uses and should be put out of their misery.
Problem is amending the constitution to do so. Given the amending formula it is next to impossible to do so…unless all Canadians and all their governments agree. Perhaps it could be possible on the Senate question.
When will we have a government strong and courageous enough to tackle the issue?

Posted on September 1, 2009 at 2:10 pm e

joe agnost Says:

Scrap it… Demers is (kinda) the last straw.

Posted on September 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm e

Janus Says:

We need the Senate in some form. I am not willing to trust any legislative body in power with the loaded weapons of immediacy. They might have the guns, but it’s the senators who hold the ammunition right now.

Maybe having all senators stand for election in their respective provinces would be the answer (note that senators in Canada are appointed from their provinces, not necessarily from political parties).

We could add them to the ballots during provincial elections, building a bullpen of sorts for the next vacancies. Then, as a seat comes vacant in the Red Chamber, the first elected senator in that seat’s province steps into action.

This will accomplish two things (probably more, but I can think of two immediately): it will take the appointments out of the hands of the current federal dictator of whichever party with whatever agenda of his own; and it will give the provinces more of their own say about what happens in Ottawa (because, unlike MPs, senators are not beholden to the party leaders for their very seats).

Did I mention that it will very likely screw up the party political system, and the “stacking” of the odds? That’s a BONUS!

Posted on September 1, 2009 at 8:58 pm e

Neil McKenty Says:

It is quite true that senators are appointed in the provinces but most of them belong to the same political party as the prime minister who appoints them and many of them are political hacks.

Posted on September 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm e

Tony Kondaks Says:

The Senate is supposed to be the chamber of sober second thoughts so that the alleged “mob” mentality of the House of Commons doesn’t rule the day all on its own.

But the Senate is the creature of the political parties and prime ministers that appoint them and that’s far from ensuring sober second thoughts. It’s a home for political patronage.

In the U.S., senators are elected. However, prior to 80 years ago they were appointed by state legislatures (or governors of states? Not sure which…) and then a constitutional amendment changed things. The idea of the U.S. Senate was to hold the power of the federal government in check. Well, with a $10 trillion national debt and the federal government’s sticky fingers in every aspect of American society and I’m thinkin’ that perhaps the old way was better…

Posted on September 2, 2009 at 5:19 am e

Janus Says:

Ah, but Neil, if the way senators were chosen changed in the way I suggested, the choice of who gets into the Senate would be removed from the Prime Minister’s office.

Not only that, but the timing of any senator’s taking his seat would not be under the control of the PMO, either. It could very well happen that during any PM’s reign, one or more senate seats get filled by members of opposition parties. Or even independents.

It would be power back in the hands of the people, where it truly belongs, and not in the PMO, where all the pork is doled out.

Posted on September 2, 2009 at 10:43 am e

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Posted on September 7, 2009 at 9:38 pm e

Lina Says:

I THINK THIS IS A GOOD LOOK ON POLITICAL VIEWS.

Posted on October 12, 2010 at 3:1

 

2 Comments »

  1. 1

    We live in a rapidly changing world, with science and the internet altering the way we do business, the contacts we make, and our awareness of the world.
    The Senate should go – but so also should the way the House of Commons functions. Both are essentially Nineteenth Century institutions, which took their present form in Britain in the 1830’s, when horses were about the only method of transportation and the telegraph had just been invented.
    I recommend looking at the approach now being used in Nunavut. Let’s abolish “parties” and allow our representatives to discuss issues and vote on them in the interest of their constituents and the good of the country.
    There is a logical “second chamber” already evolving. It should represent the provinces, and has already been constituted: the Council of the Federation, http://www.councilofthefederation.ca
    It’s not enough just to abolish the Senate!

  2. 2
    dieta Says:

    Some years ago when the Liberals were in power, Stephen Harper charged that the Canadian senate was a dumping ground for political friends and party hacks. Yet Mr. Harper has just appointed nine of his political friends and party hacks to the Senate including Jacques Demers, the former Canadiens hockey coach who once admitted publicly that he was functionally illiterate.


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