Debate continues on Senate reform

Prime Minister Harper has made Senate reform and/or abolition a federal election issue, and while acknowledging the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled his recent refusal to fill vacancies can’t continue indefinitely, he has declared a moratorium on Senate appointments.

The Vancouver lawyer who launched a Federal court lawsuit hoping to compel the PM to fill  the current 22 vacant seats, has now offered to drop that action, if Mr. Harper asks the high court to rule on the constitutionality of his moratorium.

The high court has already ruled that both Senate reform & abolition would require unanimous provincial approval, and with the moratorium Mr. Harper appears to have picked up on that.

“I think it will force the provinces over time to either come up with a plan of comprehensive reform, or to conclude that the only way to deal with the status quo is abolition.”

According to the latest Angus-Reid survey the countries’ most popular Premier is still Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall.

“I hope provinces and territories respond. If we simply can’t come to an agreement on how this thing can be meaningfully reformed then surely we must be able to decide that in 2015, this country ought not to provide decision making authority to an appointed body however it’s constituted. That doesn’t make any sense.”

The Senate consists of 105 members appointed by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, with a great deal of the Senate reform debate in recent years has focussed on the lack of representation by population, and no province in the country is more under represented than this one.

Nova Scotia, with a current population of fewer than one million, has ten Senate seats, but BC with a current population of four million, only six.

Former Peace River North MLA Richard Neufeld is one of them, but when attempts to contact him failed, we turned to another Conservative BC Senator, Nancy Greene Raines.

“Really the Senate of Canada is kind of in many ways the least of our worries as a country. It costs the average Canadian less than four dollars a day for the Senate total expenses so it’s not a big expenditure, but it should be doing its job better.”