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Should the senate be reformed?
No, keep the status quo.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Abolish the senate.
10%
 10%  [ 3 ]
Elected with 6 year terms.
42%
 42%  [ 12 ]
Elected with 7 year terms.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Elected with 8 year terms.
35%
 35%  [ 10 ]
Elected with 9 year terms.
7%
 7%  [ 2 ]
Not elected, but other reform.
3%
 3%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 28

Author Message
palomino_pony





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 539
Reputation: 93.9Reputation: 93.9
votes: 3
Location: Lower Mainland, BC

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:10 am    Post subject: Should the senate be reformed? Reply with quote

I am curious about how today's conservatives view senate reform. This one of the policy differences between the Reform/Alliance and the PC parties. Do the members of the old parties still hold the same position? What region of Canada are you from?

Myself, I support an elected senate. The length of the term in not critical, but I am leaning towards 8 years. I was a Reform Party supporter, and being from under represented and often ignored BC, have always been interested in seeing an elected senate.
Donald Hughes





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 166
Reputation: 16.2Reputation: 16.2
Location: Libertarian socialism

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The policies of the Tories and Reform-then-Alliance converged when it came to Senate Reform over time. Originally the Reform Party wanted equal-by-province, but the Tories supported equal-by-region and making BC into a region. I think that this was agreed to as a matter of principle by the Alliance and became part of the sketched common platform.

Personally, I think that the idea of an elected and effective second chamber completely undermines the Canadian system of Parliamentary "responsible government." It creates the real problem of cohabitation, where there may be a majority from one party in the Senate and a majority in another in the House. This will either hurt the supremacy of the House or it will be largely useless.

Likewise, from a theoretical perspective it moves us further away from democracy as a collection of equal citizens towards a simple system of delegation from semi-autonomous provinces and regions. As I prefer that people be treated equally at each level of government, therefore one-person-one-vote overall, I would be upset if we had further distortions away from population towards geography.

Beyond all this, I haven't seen many serious specific problems this is supposed to solve. All the regional grievance or structural issues that were supposed to be solved by this can (and many have) been solved within the framework of existing Parliament.

Anyways, I support the abolition of the Senate. More extensively I support the permanent dissolution of the Crown and Parliament, but that is beyond the scope of this thread.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elected with 6 year terms
kwlafayette





Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 6155
Reputation: 156.2Reputation: 156.2
votes: 28
Location: Saskatoon Saskatchewan

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really know what to do about the Senate. Currently, they are just another tool of the party leaders in the Commons. They are supposed to represent reagional interests. Maybe the provinces should appoint them instead? I don't know about elections anymore. We elect MPs, and all they do is toe the party line anyway.

I think a term limit is definitely a positive move though.
casper35





Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 99
Reputation: 25.7Reputation: 25.7Reputation: 25.7

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Either abolish it and give more provincial powers or reform it. I have read about a couple of different models - Belgium and German. I like the German Bundesrat idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundesrat_of_Germany

Basically it would allot each province a number of senate seats based on population ranges rather than rep population (HoC) or equal number per province (US senate).

German example greater than 7 million gets 6 seats
6-7 M - 5 seats
2-6 M - 4 seats
less than 2 M - 3 seats

Canada's allocation would be different to given our total and provincial populations. It would allow for both a recognition of greater voice for the big provinces while giving a fairer voice to the "regions" of the Maritimes and Western provinces.
DM Schwartz





Joined: 08 Sep 2006
Posts: 45
Reputation: 34.4Reputation: 34.4Reputation: 34.4

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why not let provincial governments decide who represents them in the senate instead of the prime minister of the day.

There is a enough political diversity provincially to allow for fairness in the senate. Especially given recent federal history where liberals decided who sat in the senate for 12+ years.(Talk about being able to stack the deck in your favour)

Senator should also be limited to a set number of years maybe 8 years.
McGuire





Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 369
Reputation: 20.2Reputation: 20.2
Location: Soviet Pictouwestistan

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But the problem is do you want a separatist gov't to nominate Senators thus compelling the PM to appoint them?? I don't want that to happen. Now if separatists Senators were elected by the people, then that'd be different. The PM should respect the will of the people.
DM Schwartz





Joined: 08 Sep 2006
Posts: 45
Reputation: 34.4Reputation: 34.4Reputation: 34.4

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But the problem is do you want a separatist gov't to nominate Senators thus compelling the PM to appoint them?? I don't want that to happen. Now if separatists Senators were elected by the people, then that'd be different. The PM should respect the will of the people.

Provicial gov'ts are elected by the people....one would assume that if the people of a particular province (i.e. Quebec) has elected the PQ to represent them, then they would probably want a PQ senator to represent them. The same could be said if a Liberal gov't is elected or more preferably a conservative gov't is elected.

And if there are limits to their time in the senate, then the country isn't stuck with someone who doesn't represent their province anymore.
AmericanTory





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 23
Reputation: 13.8

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

<i>Basically it would allot each province a number of senate seats based on population ranges rather than rep population (HoC) or equal number per province (US senate). </i>

That is one of the "points" of the US Senate- equal representation for every state in the federal government regardless of population. Basing seats on population range is essentially the same as basing it on population, as greater population results in more seats, and the point of the US Senate is that every state has equal value within the nation. Another point worth noting is the original intent of the Senate, to give the states representation to the federal government. For this reason, Senators were appointed by state legislatures rather than selected by direct election. This was done away with in 1913 with the Seventeenth Amendment. Direct elections has serious implications for federalism and makes Senators little more than Representatives with longer terms and more powers. In essence, the states are no longer represented to the federal government.

I think the US should repeal the Seventeenth amendment and return to the appointment of Senators by state legislatures. How the legislatures determine who they appoint is up to them, be it by having elections or just by an appointments process. I think it might be good to do similar in Canada- to remove the power of appointment from the federal executive and give it to the provinces, and leave it to the provinces to determine how they make the appointments. Have fixed terms of appointment- 6 years, 8 years, 9 years, it doesn't matter (as Harper pointed out, the minutia is not important). The point is that the Senate has to be changed. Also, equal representation for the provinces and equal representation for the territories is important. I don't know what the numbers should be, but the current method of using geographic divisions does not work. It has created resentment and feelings of alienation. However, there is the problem of Quebec and how to address a province that feels it deserves greater and special consideration that the other provinces do not. There is no easy answer for how you represent the provinces equally without possibly triggering another secession threat and crisis.
Donald Hughes





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 166
Reputation: 16.2Reputation: 16.2
Location: Libertarian socialism

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If state legislatures represent the democratic will of the state then the result of their appointment to the Senate should be identical or close to direct election. If there is a distortion between the two, it is only to the detriment of both levels, especially as people have to decide a balance between various levels on one part of the ballot.

Anyways, I don't believe that organizations above the people have rights independent of the people that composed them. They must be subject to the same principles and rules at generally all levels. This means participatory or at least democratic control over them. Subsidiarity is a principle that would include delegation but always within the context of overarching democratic control. That is, we should never have political units (states, provinces, etc.) that are "represented" somewhere else except in a way that is directly proportional to their populations, and should always when possible have these representations be elected by the people. For reasons like this I don't consider the US Senate legitimate.
Bleatmop





Joined: 03 Sep 2006
Posts: 953
Reputation: 17.5Reputation: 17.5
votes: 10

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe in Senate reform and believe they should be either elected or appointed by the Premiers. Either way, it should not be in the hands of the PM, PMO, or Parliament. My personal vision is to have 3 senators per provance and 1 for each territory, equaling 33. This would create the kind of regional representation that is vital to a federation such as Canada. I think that the senate should work where they would actually debate and vote on each bill the HoC passes. Also, they should be able to pass bills of their own to be approved by the HoC. I'm also in favour of 10 year terms, with a limit of 2 terms per senator. This would ensure that the senators could be "far reaching futuristic" thinkers and the HoC could be the "here and now" law makers. I also believe in making it impossible to have a senate election at the same time as a federal or provincial election.

Thats just what I think. Personally, I'd take anything but this rubber stamping, pass any bill that goes there way senate.
palomino_pony





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 539
Reputation: 93.9Reputation: 93.9
votes: 3
Location: Lower Mainland, BC

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DM Schwartz wrote:
Provicial gov'ts are elected by the people....one would assume that if the people of a particular province (i.e. Quebec) has elected the PQ to represent them, then they would probably want a PQ senator to represent them. The same could be said if a Liberal gov't is elected or more preferably a conservative gov't is elected.


I don't know if you could assume this at all. Federal voting patterns do not necessarily translate to provincial voting patterns. Federal voting motivations are very different than provincial motivations.

In the 1990s BC supported the Reform Party federally, but had voted in two NDP governments provincially (1996 gets an Astrix as Liberals actually got more of the popular vote, but less seats). In 2003, a Liberal Jean Charest defeated the Landry PQ government, while federally supporting the BQ. The NDP did not sweep Ontario federally in the 1990s after Bob Rae and the NDP won provincially. In these cases, how can a provincial government decide the will of the people?

There should be nothing to fear about having the public elect their own senators, be they from regions or from provinces- as long as there is equal representation.
Craig
Site Admin




Joined: 29 Aug 2006
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votes: 36

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Donald Hughes wrote:
Beyond all this, I haven't seen many serious specific problems this is supposed to solve. All the regional grievance or structural issues that were supposed to be solved by this can (and many have) been solved within the framework of existing Parliament.


Ummm. How about an unelected senate holding up legislation passed in the house??? You eloquently stated above your concerns about an elected senate undermining the authority of the House. The Liberals are threatening to do the same with their unelected senators. At least an elected senate would have some legitimacy in doing so.

Quote:
Anyways, I support the abolition of the Senate. More extensively I support the permanent dissolution of the Crown and Parliament, but that is beyond the scope of this thread.


Red is dead. There is a reason there isn't lineups at the Cuban, North Korean, and former Soviet embassies.
Ken





Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Posts: 3
Reputation: 12.8

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the PM can appoint Senators, I would prefer them not to exist and waste tax dollars. Either elect senators or abolish the senate.
Donald Hughes





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 166
Reputation: 16.2Reputation: 16.2
Location: Libertarian socialism

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Ummm. How about an unelected senate holding up legislation passed in the house??? You eloquently stated above your concerns about an elected senate undermining the authority of the House. The Liberals are threatening to do the same with their unelected senators. At least an elected senate would have some legitimacy in doing so.
Well the Liberals and Conservatives both agree that the Senate has some legitimacy in doing so, so from their perspective it is consistent. But I think they are both wrong and that the Senate should be abolished. The status quo may be better than elected Senators because it would distort the system in a way that would probably be very difficult to reform prior to some more radical change.
Quote:
Red is dead. There is a reason there isn't lineups at the Cuban, North Korean, and former Soviet embassies.
This is meaningless rhetoric. But if you want to know my position on line-ups at embassies... Let's repeal all immigration laws. In the meantime, encourage and assist people in breaking them.
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Should the senate be reformed?

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