Senate vacancy shootout: This could get interesting.


Update: Read the ITQ liveblog from the meeting here.

Check out what’s on the agenda this afternoon for Government House Leader Peter Van Loan – AKA the Minister responsible for Cunning Plans To Reform The Senate Without Bothering With That Whole Constitutional Amendment Process Thing:

Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 4:00 pm
Location: Room 257, East Block
Clerk: Adam Thompson (613-990-6160)

Agenda for the meeting – Senate

Item Details
1. Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (vacancies).

Honourable Peter Van Loan, P.C., M.P., Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Privy Council Office

Dan McDougall, Director, Strategic Analysis and Planning, Democratic Reform
David Anderson, Senior Policy Advisor, Democratic Reform

For some reason, when I first saw this notice, I stupidly assumed
that it was just the Upper House counterpart to House bill C-20 –
which, for anyone fortunate to have forgotten, would kinda-sorta set up
a system to elect future senators without mucking about with the
amending formula, and which may or not even be constitutional,
depending on which legal expert you believe.

But it’s not. In fact, it’s actually the Anti-C-20!

Not only does it explicitly not require any sort of consultation, but it would force this current PM – who has been practicing a sort of war of attrition by refusing to appoint anyone (other than the odd Public Works Minister, or that guy from Alberta) to replenish his own party’s senate caucus – to stop taking his passive aggression out on the Red Chamber and fill those seats within 180 days. Oh, and no more tricks with byelection timing.

Check it out:

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

1. (1) The Parliament of Canada Act is amended by adding the following before the heading “Conflict of Interest” before section 16:

Vacancy in Senate 13.1 Within 180 days after a vacancy happens in the Senate, the Prime Minister shall recommend to the Governor General a fit and qualified person for appointment to the Senate to fill the vacancy.

Transitional (2) In respect of a vacancy that exists in the Senate at the time this Act receives royal assent, the Prime Minister shall, within 180 days after the day of that assent, recommend to the Governor General a fit and qualified person for appointment to the Senate to fill the vacancy.

2. Section 31 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection

(1): Order of issuing writs

(1.1) If the Chief Electoral Officer is in receipt of more than one warrant for the issue of a writ for the election of a member of the House, the writs shall be issued under subsection (1) in the order in which the Chief Electoral Officer received the corresponding warrants.

I cannot wait to hear what Peter Van Loan has to say about this. Man, he’s going to be some ticked.


Senate vacancy shootout: This could get interesting.

  1. I think this is an attempt to stop the Conservatives from abolishing the Senate by stealth. Assuming there is no election until the fall of 2009 and assuming the Public Works Minister resigns from the Senate then it will be almost 25% vacant.

  2. Funnily enough, I only noticed because someone in PVL’s office emailed me with a heads up on the meeting — I’d be there to cover it (and may still) if I didn’t have to watch the Flight of the Hanger.

  3. Of course the Tories will hate it, but to me it seems a totally sensible counterpart to the bill to have fixed election dates. But then who’s ever accused the Tories of consistency.

  4. Ha ha ha! This will be good… Keep us posted on future developments.

  5. Yeah that David Anderson is such a Conservative. Where do they find these guys to advise the government?

  6. Ah sorry, wrong David Anderson. Sneaky buggers.

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