Unelected senators, to save democracy - Macleans.ca

Unelected senators, to save democracy

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Senator Elaine McCoy makes the case for a reformed, but still appointed, Senate.

Consider what happens now when you elect someone to go to Ottawa. No sooner have they spent their first term in office than they’re emailing home to explain why they voted for something their constituents didn’t want. The reason, of course, is party discipline. They’re “whipped,” i.e., told to vote with their party or else leave caucus. Most stay and do what they’re told. Without the party, it’s very difficult to get re-elected.

It would be no different for senators if they were running for election. Most would run as party candidates. What we’d end up with is nothing more than 105 more backbenchers. Right back, in fact, where we started. So let’s start again. Let’s take the proposition that an independent, appointed Senate is, after all, Canada’s last best chance for democracy.