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The call came from inside the house

Senator Michael MacDonald has some issues with Senate reform


 

Among those quibbling with Stephen Harper’s plans to reform the Senate: Stephen Harper’s Senators.

“There are a lot of unintended consequences from an elected Senate,” Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald told Postmedia News. “(Not only) in terms of its relationship . . . with the House of Commons, its relationship with the government of the day and the relationship of the (senators) with their own provincial governments. These things have to be looked at because . . . the long-term implications are pretty significant.”

People often complain the Senate is illegitimate and not democratic but, MacDonald said, “the Senate wasn’t set up to be elected.” “It was set up to be a deliberative body and not an elected body and it’s been that way for 147 years and for the most part, it seems it has worked pretty well,” he said.


 

The call came from inside the house

  1. great choice of title.

  2. “and the relationship of the (senators) with their own provincial governments”  –  Indeed.  There is no relationship with the provincial governments are Senators are members of the Canadian parliament and federal legislators.  They have no input into provincial legislation or governance.  They should not run for election at the time of a provincial election.  Senatorial candidates for the list of possible appointments to the Senate  can only discuss federal legislation and governance. 

    • Senators will challenge provincial premiers as the pre-eminent voices representing the people of their province.  That will lead to a lot of friction, especially when they are of differing political stripe.

    • Yes, absolutely, but that’s not what’s meant here.  Who speaks for the province?  Is it the Premier, or is it someone the people of the province elected to sit in a Federal house? 

      • The provincial governments speak for the provinces.  I know of no provincial government that seeks to change the fundamentals of Canada, that it is a federation of self-governing states with shared and exclusive jurisdictions entrenched in a formal constitution.    This relationship cannot be altered by unilateral legislation in parliament. 

    • Nonetheless, just as an MP is there to represent his or her riding, so too should a Senator represent, at least to some degree, the interests of his or her region. To this end, if not elected, then Senators should be appointees of provincial governments or selected from lists provided by the provinces, rather than appointed at the whim of the PM.

      • Maybe, but what has been put on the table is not what you write here.  Harper is proposing that senatorial elections be held at the same time as provincial elections, paid by provincial governments (why?) – and that his power to appoint, or not, persons whose name gets on a list remain intact.  When talking about Senate Reform, we can always talk about what we feel would be best but I prefer to concentrate on precisely what is being put on the table.

  3. Harper was warned about this, but as usual he wouldn’t listen.

  4. Indeed, in many ways an elected Senate will have all kinds of unfortunate consequences that the government would rather not have us reflect upon. We lose a deliberative body in order to have two populist bodies, specially designed to create deadlock. What happens when the majority of the House comes against the majority of the Senate? Deadlock? Which body gets dissolved to break that deadlock? Can the Senate defeat a government by shutting down its money bills? Once senators have democratic legitimacy, things will get very interesting indeed. Especially in a senate that permanently underrepresents the West (Ontario and Quebec will never accede to a referendum that strips them of their representation in such a newly powerful body).

  5. So members of the place of sober second thought are having sober second thoughts. 

  6. The really bizarre thing is that the government is insisting that the provinces have to hold Senate elections. Why are the provinces independently organizing and overseeing elections to a federal office?

    Why does the federal government need any cooperation in this way? What stops the federal government from holding their own elections for Senators in a proper way, through Elections Canada?

    Oh right… cowardice and duplicity. Silly me.

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