Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Relic of 19th Century Canada


There are three critical reforms. First, we need to get on with modernizing our upper house. We should get on with the job of electing senators. Secondly, we want fair, fixed election dates, not dates chosen simply for the partisan political interests of the Prime Minister. And finally we want to clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process. All three of these initiatives will strengthen democracy of Canada and require a Prime Minister willing to bring in legislation and enact reform.

First, let’s get on with the job of electing senators. A senate chair should be occupied by someone with a democratic mandate, and Canadians should be able to mark their ballot for their Senator, as well as for their MP. We need a ballot with senators’ names, and seats with senators that have been elected. Under a Conservative government, Canadians will choose who sits in this chair.

In the 21st century, those who want to sit in the parliament of a democratic state should have a mandate from the people. The Prime Minister currently holds a virtually free hand in the selection of Senators. As Prime Minister I will use that power to establish a federal process for electing senators. Alberta has already held provincial elections for individuals aspiring to the Senate. A national Conservative government will establish a national process for senatorial elections in each province and territory on an interim basis.

Electing senators is, of course, only the first reform we need. Establishing a fixed term for senators – a term consistent with the norms of democratic office – will also be a particularly high priority. The naming of elected senators will get the ball rolling on these and other senate reforms. Once we start electing senators, we will engage the provinces and Canadian voters to start building a broad consensus on a more comprehensive plan of senate reform. An appointed Senate is a relic of 19th century Canada. An elected Senate, reflective of the federal nature of our democracy, will be a defining feature of the 21st century Canada. The Liberal position of all-or-nothing reform, of no change until everything is changed, is designed to take us nowhere. It has succeeded, to Canada’s detriment. It is time to move ahead.


  • Nice to see that even the Libs support senate reforms now!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:48 p.m.  

  • Yep, pretty soon they'll understand that in order to achieve the Liberal dream of equality and democratic process, Stephan Harper should rightly be given a majority government.

    Thanks for the endorsement CG

    By Blogger Joe Calgary, at 1:15 p.m.  

  • Actually joe calgary, Stephan Harper has lost the moral authority to govern.

    He has already assigned an unelected senator to cabinet.

    He has already denied the voters of V-K the right to choose which side of parliament they want their MP to sit on.

    The dream of a conservative majority is not looking too good.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:47 p.m.  

  • That patronage pigsty called the Senate should be abolished. The House of Commons is all thats needed.

    By Blogger Government Funded Blogger, at 4:57 p.m.  

  • There were two very clear themes regarding regional representation in a Harper cabinet:

    The first, before the election, was the notion that the CPC might form a government with no seats in Quebec. Should that have happened, it was likely a conservative senator from the province would have been appointed.

    The second was the reality that the representation theme then morphed into a lack of such within the three largest urban areas of the nation instead of the anticipated Quebec vacuum.

    To my recollection, each of these themes was at the forefront of a lot of important media discussion at each stage of the process until Stephen Harper finally announced his cabinet.

    Curiously, since the cabinet was announced, that particular discussion has now been abandoned in favour of a media onsluaght almost exclusively confined to the suitability of two contentious appointments.

    Stephen Harper was obviously in agreement that this urban CPC void had to be remedied. He has put forward his solution. Since then, there's been no shortage of criticism. What I'd be interested in is what you'd do in his situation. What would your solution be if you agreed that the CPC void in the three cities had to be filled?

    My conclusion, as a conservative, is that this was fair solution under very difficult circumstances. I am not oblivious to the unpleasant aroma surounding it. I wish it didn't have to be so. I wouldn't attempt to argue with those who feel betrayed. But I understand that certain sacrifices were necessary and a price will be paid now that should be a lot cheaper than the long-run costs of ignoring the issue.

    It would be nice if either bloggers or the professional punditicians could tell us what their solutions would be if they were in Harper's shoes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:04 p.m.  

  • Two things to keep in mind:

    1) Trudeau appointed Lib senators to cabinet.

    2) Nobody made a big deal out of it when Chretien appointed Dion and Pettigrew before they were elected.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:32 p.m.  

  • 1. Trudeau never campaigned on an elected Senate.

    2. Dion and Pettigrew agreed to run in bi-elections. Whereas Fortier has no interest to run in any bi-election or Senate election.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:57 p.m.  

  • "It is time to move ahead."

    yep, right after Harper appoints a couple of his cronies...

    By Blogger daveberta, at 7:17 p.m.  

  • " Dion and Pettigrew agreed to run in bi-elections. Whereas Fortier has no interest to run in any bi-election or Senate election."

    Well, Calgarygrit, I know you are probably quite busy dousing the flames after "SETTING YOUR HAIR ON FIRE" but if you'd like to look at this article in the Toronto St
    you MIGHT notice where Fornier says he will be running in a by election. I know its a small point and it doesn't sound near as juicy though.

    Horny toad

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 a.m.  

  • Hey Horny Toad, if Harper wants to appoint me to the Senate and appoint me to cabinet for the duration of this government, I promise i will run in the next election too. What a freaking joke.

    Oh ya and learn how to read, CG said that Fortier refused to run in a by-election or a Senate election. Damn illiterate Conservatives

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 a.m.  

  • Oh i forgot to post my name in the last one, but one final thing, just so the horny toad knows, a General Election is not a by-election, it is a General Election. A by-election is an election for a seat that becomes vacant between elections. Have a good day, moron

    Eddy Beers

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:53 a.m.  

  • 1. Trudeau never campaigned on an elected Senate.

    We have to keep in mind what Harper actually campaigned on:

    1) He said that in provinces where there is a program in place to elect senators he will only appoint those senators

    2) In provinces that don't have such a program he will appoint senators of his own choosing

    3) he will work with provinces to get a national agreement on how to elect senators

    If a national agreement is ever come to, and no provinces set up policies to elect senators do you think PMSH should just neglect the appointment of senators?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:58 a.m.  

  • Will we perhaps now have a debate on how ridiculously stupid Prime Minister Harper's Senate reform plan is?

    By Blogger Matthew, at 3:20 p.m.  

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