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Poll: majority of Canadians support constitutional talks to reform Senate

It seems a new poll is out that says Canadians are more then willing right now to re-open the Constitution to do such things as Senate reform:

After almost two decades of constitutional peace, Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press indicates a majority is now willing to risk re-opening the constitutional can of worms to accomplish some specific goals…For instance, 61 per cent said they’re prepared to re-open the Constitution to reform or abolish the appointed Senate. And 58 per cent said they’re willing to offer constitutional amendments in a bid to finally secure Quebec’s signature on the Constitution. Fifty-eight per cent also said they’re willing to open up the Constitution to change the country’s electoral system.

Those are pretty solid majorities willing to open up constitutional talks and address those issues. It’s only one poll from one polling firm, of course, but if Harper was afraid that re-opening the Constitution would cost him political capital, initial polling doesn’t seem to show it. There are a couple of other possibilities of course: Harper really isn’t that serious about Senate reform, or he fears opening the constitution because of the possibility talks will fail. As I’ve said before, bold leaders who are sincere in their beliefs take those chances. Pierre Trudeau was willing to try several times before he succeeded in 1982. Mulroney tried twice and failed, but at least was willing to walk the walk. Harper so far has talked a good talk about Senate reform, but his actions (appointing defeated candidates to the Senate) speak louder then his words on this issue.

6 comments to Poll: majority of Canadians support constitutional talks to reform Senate

  • ck

    How much serious re-opening would really be needed?

    Michael Chong came to speak in Montreal before the writ was dropped and he told us that a lot can be done without really re-opening the constitution as much of it is vague, informal and unwritten. Political Scientist Lorraine Weinrib of U of T in Lawrence Martin’s “Harperland”, confirms this.

    Don’t think that Stevie Harper won’t use that to his advantage in his majority situation to seriously change things to his advantage, like say, perhaps, no more elections??

  • MoS

    Just as damned few Canadians understood that coalition government was entirely constitutional, even fewer grasp what re-opening the constitution will mean. You can’t open it, reform the Senate, and then neatly sew it up again. Not a chance. Constitutional renegotiation is an invite to horse-trading on a galactic scale. Harper would need the support of seven provinces and the Maritimes would stand to lose a great deal of advantage they won’t part with freely. Likewise Ontario and Quebec have a vested interest in the status quo, particularly as a bulwark against the inevitable power transfer to the West.

    Yipee – go for it. That would certainly put Layton in an awkward, potentially volatile position.

  • The Provinces have their say, also…. just opening the Constitution is not enough.
    I cannot figure why the NDP want to abolish it..that is the same as it is now, except there is a majority of Conservatives…. same outcome as abolishing ..the PM can get away with anything.

  • Brian Topp has a great column in the globe – Basically it says the elitists dont like change.
    Why New Democrats won’t stop
    .

    It does not address the Senate issue directly but it does address the idea that very powerful institutions in Canada are opposed to change and why that will not stop the NDP.

  • janfromthebruce

    yeah, funny how when we ask Joe & Mary public for their thoughts, that the NDP is on the pulse of Canadians!

  • Im not at all surprised. I am for getting rid of the senate all together. Though I suppose I would accept a greatly modified Senate.

    And just think, all those folks out there that have been beating the crap out of Jack for saying he wants QC to sign onto the Constitution. Seems that’s what Canadians want too!

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