Friday, January 22, 2010

Senate Reform: Our One Chance

Its time to remake the Senate. Its time to set this country straight once and for all. We won't have this chance forever. Its worth fighting an election over. Its worth losing an election over. This is the one issue where polls don't matter. In fact, the worse the polls get, the more urgent this issue becomes. The Senate must be reformed.

The big problems with the Senate include:

  1. Appointed, Not Elected.
  2. Long Term Lengths.
  3. Unfair Distribution of Senators.
  4. Unfair Veto Power over Bills.

Appointed, Not Elected
Make them elected by the people. Democracy overrides any objection to this. I don't care about the cost or the hassle. We are spending billions in stimulus for the sake of the economy and nobody can tell me that Democracy is not important enough. Democracy is the only thing more important than the economy. The voice and will of the people is not the place to weasel out. Its going to cost money. Suck it up.
The other excuse is that it will just make another partisan house. So? Should the House of Commons be appointed then? It seems to me that the Senate has been pretty partisan so far. The only difference between an appointed Senate and an Elected Senate is that the people can change the partisanship themselves rather than waiting for a Senator to retire while holding government.

Long Term Lengths
Once appointed they stay there forever almost. The Government is working on changing term lengths already. The Library of Parliament says this:

The main argument in favor of a single term of eight years is that it is long enough to allow senators to acquire the experience needed to perform their legislative duties while being short enough to allow a regular renewal of ideas and experiences in the upper chamber.

I like new ideas.

Unfair Distribution of Senators
There aren't enough Senators. Some provinces are over represented while others are under represented. There is just no excuse for this. BC has 6 Senators, while QC has 24. Seem fair to you? The best excuse that Ontario and Quebec can produce for their over representation of the Senate is that changing it needs the constitution to be changed. I don't care. That isn't a reason, that''s an excuse. Canada does not owe Quebec and Ontario dominance. Especially not after how they behaved in Copenhagen. Use every trick in the book. Redistribute or increase Senate seats by any means necessary immediately. If there is one thing that can be changed about the Senate this is it. Its not like I'm saying Alberta Senators should dominate the Senate or anything. I'm just asking for a fair distribution. That's all. For some its too much.

Unfair Veto Power
How in the heck does an appointee vote get the power to override a majority vote of elected representatives? It boils my blood. Don't give me any crap about being appointed by an elected official. No. Once there, they are totally independent and stuck there beyond anyone's reach. We don't need sober second thought from an appointee of a long defunct regime.

Nobody East, West, English, French or Native would agree with this configuration of a Senate. This is one area that can't be shelved or backed out on. I agree with stimulus so long as it doesn't involve increasing taxes. I don't believe in AGW, but I have to swallow hysteria and excuses for drastic or severe penalties. I will not swallow skipping out on Senate Reform. If new Senators aren't a part of a plan to reform the Senate I don't think I could support this Government. If the Senators themselves, once out of reach of the Prime Minister, decide to sell us out for a sweet job, they will be vilified forever. That Senator will have people spit when they hear their name. When they show their face people will throw things.

If on the other hand a sincere and determined effort is made on the above problems, people will fight hard to help. Success on any of these issues will be honoured and respected forever. Oh I'm sure some Liberals and Premiers will be up to their old dirty tricks and we aren't guaranteed to win. But the time for change is now. This year. We don't know when we'll get this chance again.

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