The red shift

Liberal senator Grant Mitchell contemplates the potential possibilities and pitfalls of senate reform.

Electing Senators will cause a massive shift of power from the Prime Minister, from the House of Commons and from provincial Premiers to the Senate. As elected Senators they can (and they will) hold up legislation and budgets which will diminish the power of the House of Commons. Since there are, for example, only 6 Senators in Alberta compared to 28 MPs, they will have more prominence and the power that goes with it. When elected, Senators will more aggressively exercise their role in representing regional rights and will take the power to do that from where it resides now, with the Premiers. I often ask people to name 5 members of the US House of Representatives, 5 Governors and then 5 US Senators. For most, it is way easier to name Senators than either Governors or a Congress Person. That’s because the US Senate, elected as it is, is the most powerful institution in US government.

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