With the introduction of Harper’s Senate reform policy and the subsequent approval by David Alward I have felt that the subject needed to be looked at.
The issue as far as I am concerned involve a few things.
- It does not appear to matter who the province elects because the Federal Government does have the option of ignoring those results.
- Term limits are set to 9 years without possibility of re-election.
- The methods involved here actually make it easier for a government to stack the senate in it’s favour instead of making it more accountable.
Now starting with this statement on the CBC website “Under the proposed legislation, the prime minister would be obliged to consider the elected senators from the provinces, but ultimately would still make the final decision on appointments.”
It does not matter who the province elects. If the person elected does not tow the party line of the Prime Minister, or does not have similar ideology, or any other reason the Prime Minister at the time feels sufficient, then the PM can choose someone else to fill the void. This means that the elections are for appearance only and while there will likely be some “elected” senators actually appointed as senators, the Prime Minister still has the ability to choose those senators who is most likely to support his/her agenda.
In addition there is this point. “In June, the federal government introduced the Senate Reform Act. It proposes to limit the terms of senators from the current maximum of 45 years to one nine-year, non-renewable term.”
The issue here is that the voters do not have the option to send to the senate a good senate with a proven track record of upholding the will of their riding, instead they are forced to always choose from a relatively unknown group of individuals who it is unknown how they might vote. Add this to the fact that by the terms being 9 years long the voting public does not have any recourse if the “elected” senator does not actually meet the needs of the voting public for his/her region.
Because senators are replaced every 9 years, and there is no provision for them all to be replaced at the same time, any given Prime minister could replace the outgoing senators with a hand picked selection that would be party supportive or ideologically supportive, no matter what the outcome of the elections.
In truth the only thing this reform bill actually does is limit the length of the term of the senators, which gives a prime minister the ability to replace those who are not supportive of his position with those who are, when each of them retires. Now a government will not be able to change the whole senate each election however what it will be able to do is likely change sufficient numbers of senators to always allow the party in power to have ultimate control of the senate as well, if not at first after they are elected, at least before the end of their first term.
What this bill does is actually fool people into thinking Harper is actually doing something when in truth he is honestly doing nothing but pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters, while trying to make sure that at any time the conservatives are elected they will always be in a position to change the makeup of the senate to suit their needs.
Senate reform requires:
- Elections for the full senate every four years (2 years after the federal election)
- The elections can not be over turned by the PM. The elected senators will serve their four year term.
- Any senator can be re-elected (a maximum number of elections like 3 or 4 could be considered)
- a method of proportional representation to be used when choosing senators.