Harper tables Senate Reform Act - Macleans.ca

Harper tables Senate Reform Act

Bill introduces nine-year term limits, voluntary elections


The Conservative government has introduced its Senate reform legislation in the House of Commons, calling for nine-year term limits and detailing an optional election framework for the provinces. Under the Senate Reform Act, Senators appointed before 2008 will not be subject to the nine-year term limit. Instead, they will be able to remain in their seats until they turn 75. The bill includes a “voluntary framework,” where provinces can choose to elect senators when a vacancy is available. Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly wants to avoid a constitutional debate with the introduction of this legislation. Due to grumblings from the appointees in the red chamber, Harper compromised on his original proposal of an eight-year term limit, opting instead nine years.

The Globe and Mail

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Harper tables Senate Reform Act

  1. Token change but it’s nice to see the term limit. Nine years will allow for an experienced Senate while ensuring the cobwebs don’t set in.

  2. All this tinkering doesn’t sit well with me at all. The senate is one of the founding institutions of this country, and if we’re going to make such fundamental changes to its composition we should be involving the provinces and altering the constitution that brought the senate into being.

    Until now the senate has been a place of knowledge building with a strong corporate memory and long serving members that minimized party allegiance considerations.

    What Harper’s doing is making it more partisan, and setting up a new mandate for the senate to justify increased interference with parliament.

    This is all unjustifiable nonsense.

  3. Maybe the provinces could opt in to the term limits as well.  On elections, provinces have no reason to cooperate: it costs them money and gives them no benefit; the federal Conservative party is the only one with a political benefit.  Although with no one from the NDP ever running, it does probably mean a permanent Liberal majority in the Senate.

    The principle of doing this without a constitutional change is all wrong.  It means the federal government can act unilaterally to change the part of parliament that represents provinces, and provinces can’t do anything about it.  Meech Lake tried to do it properly:  the option for provinces to hold elections or not, but it was a constitutional amendment and it was defeated.