Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Stephen Harper is not Always Wrong

I guess this post should be titled why the senate should be abolished. Let's review our options on the Canadian Senate:

The Status Quo:

An unelected senate/ or quasi-elected (Harper's appointment of the senator from Alberta) senate with almost as much power (on paper) as the House of Commons. The provincial distribution of seats is based on population data from when provinces entered confederation and designed to provide a regional balancing act that no longer makes sense. The West should not be equal to the Maritimes. This is not a good thing for the Canadian system to hold on to. The pros of the current senate? Sober second thought? An interesting idea. Most of the real work that the senate does is in fixing legislation to make it legally better. That work could and really should be done in the House. If you want an unelected body to review legislation, we have a federal bureaucracy. Reports on major issues of the day? Well, there are some reports we might pay attention to (reports on health care). However, most are simply ignored. Did you know the Canadian senate recently put out a report on aid policy in sub-Saharan Africa? Is it a good report, I couldn't tell you, I haven't read it. Could we have it done by a committee of the House of Commons or, a Canadian tradition, a Royal Commission? Absolutely.

Reform:

Now, I know there isn't a perfect consensus on Senate reform, so I'll look at the most popular: the triple E senate. I don't mind (in and of itself) the elected part. Elected officials are a good thing. However, the other two parts make me cringe. Equal? Are you joking? The idea is to give every province ten seats. PEI would be equal to Ontario. I have never understood the logic. The only reason seems to be that the Americans do it. That does not make something good or desirable. The third E however is the kicker. An effective senate would lead only to endless legislative gridlock. You would have butchered version of American democracy. We have a House of Commons, we don't need another body like this.

The only reasonable conclusion is to abolish the upper house as was done across the country in province after province. It is a redundant relic of history. I agree with Liberals like Dalton McGuinty that it is time to end this farce.

2 comments:

Abdul-Rahim said...

I agree. At first, I would say to reform it but then seeing the way most of the provinces have taken in terms of unicameral legislatures and just the general redundancy of it in the Canadian political process.

Andy said...

I'd say keep the Senate and abolish the House of Commons.

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