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So this thing happened in the Senate today..

If anyone predicted this was going to happen today, I’m going to them to ask what numbers I should pick for the lottery:

Justin Trudeau has expelled from his caucus every single Liberal member of the upper house and has declared there is no longer any such thing as a Liberal Senator. The Liberal leader said the former members of the Liberal Senate caucus will sit as Independents, and they will have no formal ties to the Liberal parliamentary machinery apart from through their friendships…The move stunned both Liberal senators and senior Liberal Senate staffers, who had not been formally advised of the decision. It also blindsided veteran insiders and [...]

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Apparently, the courts are the new enemy of Senate reform

So says the Prime Minister to his party faithful at their Calgary convention:

“We were blocked by the other parties in the minority parliaments, and now we are being blocked in the courts,” said Harper in a lengthy keynote speech to the Conservative party faithful Friday night….Harper’s designating “the courts” as an enemy appeared to stem from a decision last week by the Quebec Court of Appeal, which ruled reforms such as elections to select senators or term limits could not be legislated unilaterally — as Harper had proposed.

In essence, anyone or any group that tells Stephen Harper he can’t do anything he wants is now the enemy [...]

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Referendum on Senate? Only if it includes all options – including a “reform” one

Michael Bliss, Professor at U of T, argues in the Globe today that the Senate must be abolished, and lays out why it can’t be reformed.

I’ll put aside that part of the argument for now; what I’m interested in is how he feels abolishing the Senate would be any easier then reforming it as an elected body. He argues that it should be put to a vote in a national referendum, and if the consenus is to abolish – dare the provinces who oppose abolishing it to stand against a referendum vote. He doesn’t think they will, they’d be shamed into supporting abolition or be afraid of the electoral [...]

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Plurality of Canadians want Senate “reformed”, not abolished.

At least, according to this Nanos poll:

The survey asked Canadians what they would like to see done with the Senate. Respondents were overwhelmingly against the status quo, with 49 per cent supporting reform of the Senate and 41 per cent preferring it be abolished. Just six per cent said leave it as is, while four per cent were unsure.

The random survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between June 8 and 11..Participants in the survey were randomly recruited by telephone and administered a survey online. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

That [...]

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One less provincial vote for Senate abolition

Premier Kathleen Wynne is taking the opposite position of what Dalton Mcguinty advocated: instead of abolition, she is for reform of the Senate:

Kathleen Wynne, says she sees real value in having a chamber of sober, second thought and would like to see it reformed. Wynne says the discussions of just how to reform the Senate is something she would like to have with the other provincial premiers.

It is a big blow to those who wish to kill the Senate – regardless of whether it takes 7 provinces with 50 % of the population, or unanimous consent (that issue has been referred to the Supreme Court by Harper, as [...]

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On Senate Reform

Your latest poll from Forum Research on what should be done with the Senate:

“More than one third want to abolish the Senate. An additional 37% called for the Senate to become an elected body. Less than 10% felt it best to leave the Senate as is. The latest results are consistent with an earlier Forum poll on the Senate, which was conducted before the scandal gained traction. Those February results also show the majority split between abolition and reform.”

I’m in the electoral reform camp, as you may know from reading here. Consequently, I disagree with Justin Trudeau that the only thing needed to improve the Senate is to [...]

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Yet another Senate reform blogpost

Ideas to reform the Senate seem to be the Canadian version of the Holy Grail. This week, you’ve seen not calls for reform, but calls to abolish it with the behaviors coming to light of a couple of Harper-appointed Conservative Senators in the form of Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau.

I’m against abolition – I think the Senate can perform its constitutionally designated role – representing the provinces/regions equally (edit: and acting as a chamber of sober second thought), if it was given some legitimacy and the patronage appointment power of the Prime Minister (or technically the Governor-General) removed. Of course, that means I’m for electing the Senators, but you [...]

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Good move by the Conservatives (no this title is not a typo) on Senate Reform

Yes, I’m going to give Harper credit on something this morning, and that is the apparent decision to refer the Government’s proposed Senate reform bill to the Supreme Court of Canada, and ask the High Court for their decision on whether its constitutionally valid or not:

Since 2006, the Conservative government has called for all new senators to be selected through provincial elections and to serve under a fixed term, with the latest version of the legislation proposing a nine-year mandate…experts said they feel it is appropriate to check on the constitutionality of the Senate reforms before they are put into place, instead of passing the legislation and then letting [...]

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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 [...]

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Senate reform

Here’s a wonkish-type post from me today on Senate reform, since there’s another poll out today (h/t Harperbizarro)that shows many Canadians in favour of an elected Senate.

In my opinion, If you’re going to do reform, Harper’s piecemeal way isn’t the way to go (it may not even be constitutionally legal); you need to open the Constitution and hammer out an agreement with the provinces. It’s more difficult to do it that way, but if you’re serious about it and not just trying to use it as a wedge issue for stirring up your supporters, then that’s the way you do it. If you fail, you drop it and [...]

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