Dear Supreme Court, please tell us what we can do to the Senate

The Conservatives seek advice on Senate reform

by Aaron Wherry

More than seven years after the Conservatives formed government and more than six years after they first tabled legislation to reform the Senate, Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal has announced that the Conservatives will ask the Supreme Court for a reference on Senate reform.

Here is the official announcement.

And here are the six questions the government is sending to the court.

Senate Term Limits

1.    In relation to each of the following proposed limits to the tenure of Senators, is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to make amendments to section 29 of the Constitution Act, 1867 providing for

a.    a fixed term of nine years for Senators, as set out in clause 5 of Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act;
b.    a fixed term of ten years or more for Senators;
c.    a fixed term of eight years or less for Senators;
d.    a fixed term of the life of two or three Parliaments for Senators;
e.    a renewable term for Senators, as set out in clause 2 of Bill S-4, Constitution Act, 2006 (Senate tenure);
f.     limits to the terms for Senators appointed after October 14, 2008 as set out in subclause 4(1) of Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act; and
g.    retrospective limits to the terms for Senators appointed before October 14, 2008?

Senate Appointment Consultations: National Process

2.    Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, or section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to enact legislation that provides a means of consulting the population of each province and territory as to its preferences for potential nominees for appointment to the Senate pursuant to a national process as was set out in Bill C-20, theSenate Appointment Consultations Act?

Senate Appointment Consultations: Provincial Processes

3.    Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, or section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to establish a framework setting out a basis for provincial and territorial legislatures to enact legislation to consult their population as to their preferences for potential nominees for appointment to the Senate as set out in the schedule to Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act?

Property Qualifications

4.    Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada acting pursuant to section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to repeal subsections 23(3) and (4) of the Constitution Act, 1867 regarding property qualifications for Senators?

Senate Abolition

5.    Can an amendment to the Constitution of Canada to abolish the Senate be accomplished by the general amending procedure set out in section 38 of the Constitution Act, 1982, by one of the following methods:

a.    by inserting a separate provision stating that the Senate is to be abolished as of a certain date, as an amendment to the Constitution Act, 1867 or as a separate provision that is outside of theConstitution Acts, 1867 to 1982 but that is still part of the Constitution of Canada;
b.    by amending or repealing some or all of the references to the Senate in the Constitution of Canada; or
c.    by abolishing the powers of the Senate and eliminating the representation of provinces pursuant to paragraphs 42(1)(b) and (c) of the Constitution Act, 1982?

6.    If the general amending procedure in section 38 of the Constitution Act, 1982 is not sufficient to abolish the Senate, does the unanimous consent provision set out in section 41 of the Constitution Act, 1982 apply?




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Dear Supreme Court, please tell us what we can do to the Senate

  1. Assuming the Supreme Court will hear the govt on this….I hope our only option is to abolish the thing.

  2. if they were truly interested in implenting changes, this is an absolute necessity that is seven years overdue. But whatever the result, we know the conservatives will utterly misrepresent the court’s findings.

    • YOU ARE UNDER ARREST; PLEASE COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP AND DON’T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOTIONS …

      • Is your first name Vic? If it is you can just go and %$#@ yourself.

        • No, but if my name WAS Vic, I”d be more likely to go and %$#@ my admin assistant…(booyah)

    • Huh. Yer probably one of those socially irresponsible layabouts
      who neglects to update Flash and thereby unleashes swarms of
      vicious little monsters on the rest of us …. or maybe you use
      Chrome and never mind …

      • You got the layabout right.

  3. Call me cynical, but it sounds like more puck ragging designed to run yet again on some half-assed Senate reform in 2015.

  4. the harper conservatives “window dressing”.make like your doing something,but doing nothing. its all a part of neutering canadians. the only reason harper has so many people on his tweet list is because he cut into justin beibers clientel when he gave beiber a colonial queens pin.

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