Abolish The Senate, Please

Abolish The Senate

House of Sober Second Thought

House of Sober Second Thought

 

… senators have the opportunity to vote and amend democratically created legislation. Senators also have the ability to veto the work of MPs and undemocratically create their own legislation.

Sometimes Senators will write their own study, but why do we need to hire 105 full-time employees with six-figure salaries and gold-plated pensions, two offices with full-time staff, each with hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses, for a couple studies a year? As Jack Layton put it, “People point to the occasional interesting study that is produced. Well if we want an interesting study let’s ask a group of interesting Canadians to do a study for us and pay them for their time.” Hiring Canadians for ad hoc committees and studies is something governments do all the time.

Do Senators represent my interests?
No. Senators do not have any mandate from any Canadian in the country. They are unelected, unaccountable, and they belong to an undemocratic institution. Senators are designated to certain provinces, but they do not have to be born there, have lived there or know anything about that province or area prior to being appointed.

How can we abolish the Senate?
The senate is mandated by the Canadian constitution, so the only way to abolish it is to have seven provinces with fifty per cent of the population agree. No small feat, but it is possible. The appointment of Senators by the Prime Minister – instead of direct election or appointment by provincial legislatures – means the Senate is not seen as representing either the people or the provincial governments. Instead, the Senate is viewed as a reward for years of political party service.

Senate Legitimacy?

Like other countries that merged federalism with parliamentary institutions, Canada has seen the development of executive federalism. Instead of an open process in Parliament, intergovernmental relations (relations between provincial governments or between the provinces and the federal government) take place out of public view at the ministerial level, through meetings such as First Minister’s Conferences and the annual Provincial Premiers Meeting. Even with Senate reform, executive federalism will impact the Senate’s ability to effectively represent regional interests.

 

Lack of Accountability The Senate punishes Senators who aren’t performing their duties by denying plum positions on Senate committees, removing travel privileges, and other measures. However, for all practical purposes, the only way to remove a Senator is to force him/her to resign.

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