Thomas Mulcair has just announced that the New Democrats are embarking on a cross-country campaign—”Roll up the red carpet”—to abolish the Senate.
Standing in front of the Senate chamber, Mr. Mulcair was asked whether he didn’t see the value of sober second thought.
We’re going to stop trying to find excuses for keeping a bunch of party hacks, bagmen, political operatives and defeated candidates sitting in appeal of the decisions of the duly elected mmebers of the House of Commons. That’s a game of the past. That’s a mug’s game. Where you try to find an individual in the Senate who’s not so bad. Where you try to find something that they’ve done in the past that wasn’t horrible. The real question is, in 2013, how can you possibly continue to argue to keep an institution of unelected people who have the power to reverse the decisions of duly elected members of Parliament. That’s the fundamental discussion that we’re having today.
But how to go about abolishing the Senate?
One of the things that you have to do if you actually want to make this happen is you’ve got, one, to get the public on side because once you have public support, there’s nothing more important in a democracy than having the public on side, that’s what this program is about. The other thing that you have to do is you have to talk to the provinces and territories. Because whether you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador or in Quebec or in other areas, everyone’s going to have a word to say about this. But Stephen Harper doesn’t talk to the provinces and territories, so he can’t talk seriously about reforming the Senate either. So that’s one of the things that I’m going to be doing. As I continue to travel across Canada in the coming months, every time I do I’m going to be meeting with government leaders and I’m going to be meeting with opposition leaders, we’re going to be talking about this, they’ll share their opinions as well. We want to hear from all Canadians on this. But we are convinced, from having worked on this for a long time, that the vast majority of Canadians, the quasi-totality of Canadians, realize that in a free and democratic society, having a group of people who can sit in appeal of the decisions of elected members, who have never been elected and, indeed, are more often than not defeated candidates, is a scandal that it’s about time to…
His answer trailed off there.
As I’ve written before, the argument here has to be between an elected Senate (including what would be necessary to accomplish that and all of the complications that would come with having such an upper house) and abolishing the Senate (including what would be necessary to accomplish that and whatever considerations should be made in regards to no longer having an upper house). I agree wholeheartedly with the Prime Minister that the status quo is not acceptable. But I believe abolishing the Senate is much more preferable to an elected Senate.
All previous coverage of Senate reform is here.