The "momentum" trickles along for Senate reform... with a boost from the Motherland!
Senator LeBreton said Harper's bill, which proposes renewable eight-year terms for senators, is being held up by the Grits for more study even though a special Senate committee has already filed a report on the proposed legislation. She said a second Senate committee which is examining the bill even appears poised to recall witnesses who have already testified to answer more questions.
"I just don't know why the Liberals are doing this. You know, they just don't get it. I've always thought they are insulated from the public in a type of closed society which totally ignores the Canadian public," said LeBreton, who acknowledged the Senate reforms would likely become an election issue if they are held up before a vote is called.
Liberal MP Stephen Owen agreed with LeBreton that the pro-reform vote in England should serve as a further catalyst for change in Canada's Senate. However, he said the numerical disadvantage that western provinces suffer in the Senate must be addressed before elections and shorter terms are brought in for the senators.
He said a proposed bill by Liberal Senator Jack Austin which would increase the number of Senate seats for the West needs to become a priority for the government.
Owen, who is not running for re-election, said despite objections from Liberal senators, he personally does not have a problem with the prime minister appointing senators who have first been elected through a consultative vote in each province, as proposed by Harper. Many Liberals have said bringing in an elected Senate can only be done through a constitutional amendment and Harper's plan would create a two-tier Senate.
"I'm not so worried about that since it will be solved in a fairly quick time-frame. But to bring in elected senators without adjusting the numbers will further disadvantage the West and give more power to the central Canada. And that's not acceptable," said Owen.
Nice try, Stephen Owen. This is a typical Liberal Senator tactic. Agree with the idea of reform, but don't do anything. Actually, it's a typical Liberal tactic in general. They like to use the word "tiers" don't they?
And does anyone give a rats ass how many "tiers" there are in the Senate?
With a population of over 300 million, the U.S. has 100 elected Senators, two for each state, with staggered six year terms . Canada is one-tenth the size in population, but has, what, 106 unelected Senators who serve life-terms to the age of 75? Seems a bit off, doesn't it?
So now Senator Austin wants MORE senators for the Western provinces. Currently, Alberta has 6 and Ontario has what 24? So is he saying we should add 18 senators to Alberta? Isn't that a little much? We already have 28 MPs. Then there's BC. Is there enough room in the red chamber for all these bodies?
And there's my point. The Liberal senators don't have the courage to want to change how THEY sit, so they simply ADD more, reducing the transparency and scrutiny of their own lazy jobs.
Well, last week, the British House of Commons voted 337 to 224 in favour of an elected upper chamber.Mike Jenkinson has a good article here.
Prime Minister Harper has put forth an 8 year term for senators in Bill S-4, which is currently before the Liberal dominated senate, and has been sitting there for 10 months now, waiting, waiting.
"I encourage the senators to hurry up their detailed analysis," Harper said. Yeah, no kidding.
Now I'm going to throw an idea out there. I'd like to suggest that each province should have 4 senators with 12 year re-electable terms. An election would occur for one of the senate seats every 3 years in conjunction with a province's civic election (which are fixed). With fewer senators, they would be under greater scruitiny, but have the longevity to overlap governments in the house of commons.
There's my analysis.
I think the Conservatives can use this has an election issue to solidify the western base, especially in B.C. where the party lost a few key seats. Every little bit will help in getting a majority.
But the next time a Liberal talks about senate reform, you can't help but laugh.