Thursday, January 28, 2010

Support growing for New Democrats' call for Senate abolition

The Toronto Star's Bob Hepburn has penned this well-argued piece today in which he aligns with Jack Layton and the New Democrats' long-standing call for the abolition of the unelected, unaccountable Senate.

In it, Hepburn points to the growing political will for this common sense reform that was first put forth by the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) back in the 1930s:

“Support for abolishing the Senate is fairly strong in Canada. Provincial governments in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba favour killing it and it has been NDP policy for a long time. Also, an Angus Reid survey last August found 33 per cent of us back such a move.”

In 2010 should Canadians still be forced to pay $90 million a year for the privilege of mainitinaing the jet-set lifestyles of party hacks parroting the party line while masquerading as legitimate legislators?

Canada's Senate: Don't fill it, kill it! ... and it's about time we got on with it.

4 comments:

Jim said...

I would not abolish the Senate.

It seems to me that the Senate is one of the few bodies in Canada with a little (very little) actual power and the ability to tell the PM of the day to go peddle his papers.

We need more such brakes on the absolute power of the PMO, not less.

I recall a moment of clarity when Tony Blair did the latest "reform" of the British House of Lords. It is certainly the epitome of an anti-democratic, elitist, throwback to the dark ages, but my immediate reaction to his proposals was that it was about the only organ of government that was actually independent of 10 Downing Street.

The Governor-General is supposed to act in a similar way, but rarely does, or needs to.

The Senate, generally through committee work, does do a significant amount of work on real issues. Theoretically, the House of Commons committees could do much the same, but MPs are so effectively neutered in the current party system that they never will.

Remember the discussion of The Law in A man For All Seasons? The impetuous young man declares that he would cut down every law in England to deprive the Devil of shelter. More replies, "And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?"

There's an emotional appeal in clearing away things that annoy us, but it is well to consider the landscape that will be left if we do so.

Without things like the Senate, there's just that much less shelter from the storms of whatever government we choose in an ill-considered moment.

I lived through the Harris years in Ontario. How much better of would we have been if there had been someone -- anyone! -- who could have said, occasionally, "No, Mike, I don't think so?"

Malcolm+ said...

The Senate - which I have frequently described as a festering pustule on the arse end of Canada's democracy - has no legitimacy as a brake on this Prime Minister or any other.

Sorry, Jim, but "I despise Harper so keep the Senate" is as useless an argumeent as "I despirse Harper so vote for the other right wing party."

While I favour abolition of the Senate, I am prepared to look at serious reform. No true democrat is prepared to accept the status quo regarding this taskless thanks.

Gord Hunter said...

Interesting that the Government in the UK wants to do away they old House of Lords model and bring in Proportional Representation.
To be honest we could do worse.
Harper's reform the senate position is bogus.
When this country really needs is real electoral reform, Proportional Representation in both houses.
Fair Vote Canada is working hard to bring these issues forward

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