Monday, June 01, 2009

Reverse Insenaty

Some people say that insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and getting the same result. But I'd say in the case of reforming the Canadian senate, it's worth it to pursue and is not insane, nor is it "insenaty", unless those opposed to any reform (Quebec) have anything to say about it. And they always do...

OTTAWA - When it comes to Senate reform, the Harper government is applying the old adage: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

The government reintroduced for the third time Thursday legislation that would force senators to retire after serving a single, non-renewable term of eight years.

And it intends to reintroduce legislation soon that would create a process to elect senators.

"Well, here we go again," said Marjory LeBreton, the government's leader in the Senate.

Two previous attempts to impose term limits went nowhere amid objections from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, which argued that Senate reforms require a constitutional amendment approved by at least seven provinces.

Quebec, which views the Senate as a chamber designed to protect minority rights, has been the most adamantly opposed. It has threatened to take the federal government to court if it persists in trying to unilaterally reform the upper chamber.

Some have asked my view on senate reform. I believe having a triple-e senate a key ingredient to national unity, otherwise many provinces are just colonies within the dominion. Canada has changed dramatically over the past 100 years and our current senate makeup is a relic of an old system that needs major reform. And I'll take any kind of reform, any progress to get to a triple-e, even if it's one step at a time.

This is the key issue of why I support Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

First off, we have too many senators. I propose the following, similar to the U.S. system:

- Each province gets 6 senators and each territory gets 2 for a total of 66. (Keep in mind that they have 100 senators in the U.S. (2 per state).

- Each province is divided into 6 regions (not necessarily based on population). These regions are determined by the provincial legislatures. For example, Alberta would be divided as such: Edmonton Captial Region, Calgary Region, Central, Northwest, Northeast, South.

- Three senators are up for election every six years in conjunction with a province's civic elections usually held every three years.

- Because of elections, there is no need for term limits. I believe if someone is doing a good job and continually gets elected, then there's nothing wrong with that.

- Current campaign financing laws would apply with an adjustment to the amount a campaign can spend depending upon the population of the region.

Now is that so insane?

1 comment:

Steven Hurdle said...

It's not insane, no. However, I disagree with "ridings" for senators. I prefer the Harper government's proposal of senators being elected province-wide using the STV electoral system. That's how it's done in Australia, so there's a precedence in a parliamentary democracy similar to ours. It's the best possible system I think, and will far more fairly represent the voters than single-representative ridings would.

That one point aside, I agree with senate reform, and I'm with you in being willing to take it a step at a time.