Abolish the Senate and save future Michael Fortiers the disappointment - Macleans.ca

Abolish the Senate and save future Michael Fortiers the disappointment

A Conservative senator questions the Senate’s “usefulness”

by

Five years removed from the chamber, former Conservative senator Michael Fortier—Stephen Harper’s first appointment—questions the Senate’s “usefulness.”

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Michael Fortier told host Evan Solomon while he didn’t believe in abolishing the Senate when he was a part of it, “if I had to choose today, I would say that I’m probably closer to closing the place down. I just don’t see the usefulness…

“I was very naïve… I thought it would be a different place than the one I found. I found it to be extremely partisan… on both sides, including my own. And it was very annoying because these people were trying to be members of parliament and they weren’t,” Fortier said.

Apparently Mr. Fortier didn’t find it to be a “stimulating environment.”

On that note, the New Democrats have tabled three options for their opposition day tomorrow.

That, in the opinion of the House, the government of Canada, in consultation with the provinces and territories, should take immediate steps towards abolishing the unelected and unaccountable Senate of Canada.

That, in the opinion of the House, given that the Auditor General has found that Senate “expense claim files do not always contain sufficient documentation” and that “it is difficult for the Administration to clearly conclude that expenses are appropriate”, an independent authority should be appointed to conduct an in depth review of matters related to Senate residency requirements, housing allowances and travel expenses since January 2008, including access to all relevant documentation and authority to interview all relevant persons, and that this authority report to the House on the following questions: a) whether any Senators have failed to comply with the constitutional residency requirements for the Senate of Canada as outlined in Sections 23 and 31 of the Constitution Act of 1982; b) whether any Senators have claimed housing allowances to which they were not properly entitled under Senate rules; and c) whether any Senators have incurred travel or transportation expenses not relating to parliamentary functions including travel to any personal residence not within either the province or territory they were appointed to represent or the National Capital Region.

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should not further increase Senate spending or reduce spending for the Senate Ethics Officer for fiscal year 2013-14 and that it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates that it conduct a study of other means by which the Senate’s budget could be reduced.

The second and third options are perhaps more practical, but the first might make for the more interesting debate.