Thursday, November 24, 2011

A proposal for the House and the Senate

The Conservatives, Liberals, and New Democrats have all proposed changes that could be made to how seats are allocated and distributed in the House of Commons.

The Conservative proposal aims to improve representation by adding 30 seats to the House, while the New Democrats have proposed to give Quebec more seats than are being offered by the Tories in order to keep the province at the same level of representation it had when it was recognized as a "nation within a united Canada."

The Liberals then came forward with a proposal to keep the number of seats in the House at 308 to reduce costs, and change the allocation of seats within that 308 to improve representation. They are the only party to suggest removing seats from certain provinces.

All of these proposals are aimed at improving representation, but all of them fail to give each province proper representation. Due to the senatorial clause requiring that a province have at least as many seats in the House of Commons as they do in the Senate, changes of real substance are impossible. In order to give each province proper representation but keep Prince Edward Island at four seats, the number of MPs needs to be increased to over 900.

In other words, all of these solutions are temporary, incomplete solutions that pass the problem on to the future. If we want proper representation in the House of Commons (and that is up for debate as well), something bolder needs to be attempted.

If there was no senatorial clause and no fear of removing seats from a province, proper representation could be easily achieved. But those are two major obstacles.

In order to get the senatorial clause off the books, the provinces would need to agree. As there are a lot of provinces that stand to lose seats for no other gain that is a non-starter.

To make a change to representation in the House of Commons requires a removal of the senatorial clause, and in order to remove the clause something needs to be given to the provinces in return. Taking this into consideration, here is my humble proposal and I invite readers to pick it apart.

I should point out that this is my proposed solution to this particular problem, if it is a problem that needs a solution. I am not advocating that either the House or the Senate needs substantial reform. It just seemed like an interesting puzzle to tackle.

Firstly, let's look at how to change the House of Commons formula for allocating seats. We will assume that the senatorial and grandfather clauses have been negotiated away (more on that later).

The proposal is a simple one. Every ten years, the number of seats each province receives is determined based on the newest data from the last census.

The proportion of the national population made up by each province and territory is calculated, and then applied to the number of seats in the House of Commons at the time of the re-distribution. In other words, there are 308 seats in the House now and if a province has 10% of the country's population, the province receives 30.8 seats. All decimals are then rounded-up, so this would give the province 31 seats. Using the latest estimates from Statistics Canada, this would give us the following seat distribution:
There are two reasons for rounding-up across the board. For one, it ensures that the territories would each have at least one MP. Secondly, it increases the size of the House incrementally every ten years, ensuring that MPs aren't representing huge ridings several decades from now but also ensuring that the House isn't growing by 30 seats every ten years.

Now, to the Senate. In order to get this kind of change approved by some of the provinces that stand to lose seats using this new formula, they need to be given something in the Senate. My proposal envisions a complete overhaul of how senators are chosen.

There would be 100 senators in this new Senate, with 10 from each province. This is similar to the U.S. Senate, where each state is represented by two senators. In this proposal, the House of Commons provides representation by population while the Senate is our chamber of second thought - an assembly of the provinces.

Senators, however, are not simply appointed by the federal government in this proposal. To get representation by population in the House, the federal apparatus gives up a little power in the Senate. In this proposal, the federal government chooses 40 of the senators while the remaining 60 are chosen by the provincial governments.

But in order to give the Senate a longer view towards the legislation it reviews, senators are not chosen en masse.

Each province would appoint two senators after each provincial election, meaning that senators would serve for three "terms". Each term begins and ends with a provincial election. This means senators would be entering and leaving the Senate at different times. A string of majority provincial governments would mean a senator's term could last 15 years (or 12 in the case of fixed-election provinces), while a string of minority governments could reduce a senator's term significantly. With each new provincial election, two new senators are appointed by the provincial government and the two longest serving senators from that province are dropped.

The purpose of giving the provinces the choice of 60 of the Senate's 100 members is to give them a reason to get on board. Provincial governments would actually have representatives, chosen by the provincial party leaders themselves, in Ottawa. While some provinces would lose representation in the Senate, they would gain influence as those members would be directly responsible to the provincial governments.

It would be the same system for the federal appointees, though they would sit for four terms. After each federal election, 10 federal senators (one from each province) would be appointed to the Senate, with the  longest serving federal senator from each province leaving the Senate.

But the Senate should not be a place to reward political operatives, and it should be accountable to the population. To reflect this, in addition to nominating candidates in provincial and federal ridings, parties would be required to nominate the people they would appoint to the Senate during an election campaign. This would prevent defeated candidates for the House of Commons being appointed to the Senate, since both riding candidates and senatorial candidates would need to be named for the vote is held.

For example, in the last election campaign each party would have nominated one senator per province that they would appoint if elected as the government. So, in addition to the 308 candidates they would also have 10 senator candidates. This would give voters an extra thing to consider when heading to the ballot box, and force parties to choose worthy senatorial candidates in order to help their parties' electoral chances.

Provincial parties would do the same during their election campaigns, nominating the two senators they would appoint to the Senate if elected.

One of the objections some provinces have to an elected senate would be removed in this manner. Elected senators would compete with the provincial government as a voice for the province. Provincial senators appointed by provincial governments would not be in competition with their governments - they would be answerable to them.

To avoid cases where senatorial nominees would resign immediately after being appointed in order to give the government in power the opportunity to appoint someone else, first-term senators would not be replaced if they retire. Only in case of death would a first-term senator's vacated spot be filled by the government, while vacancies arising from the death or retirement of two-, three, or four-term senators would be filled by the government in power but these appointees would be considered to have sat for as long as their replacement.

In other words, the replacement of a retiring fourth-term senator would only sit out that remaining term. Of course, the governing party could nominate this senator again in the next election campaign.

This system would retain the long-term view that senators can currently take into account, as terms could be as long as 16 years for federal senators. It would also make the make-up of the Senate different from the House, giving it a different point of view, both in terms of the staggering-in of appointees and the different parties represented.

Assuming that no senators would have died or retired and that this system had already been in place for the last four federal elections and three provincial elections, the make-up of the Senate would be as follows:
This would certainly give a lot of legislation sobre second thought, particularly considering that the voting blocks would not be as monolithic as they are now. The 56 Conservative/Progressive Conservative/Saskatchewan Party senators, along with the six B.C. Liberals, would be expected to vote together on a lot of legislation, but if the federal government is proposing things that are not in line with the interests of, say, Atlantic Canadian provinces, the coalition of 62 conservatives could fall apart. If the 16 Progressive Conservatives from Atlantic Canada voted with the opposition, for example, they could send a bill back to the House for revision.

In this way, the Senate would be more useful and also more accountable, as senatorial nominees would play a role in ensuring that their provincial or federal parties have success in elections and they would also play a role in ensuring that they can be joined by like-minded senators in subsequent elections. A senator that enrages the population may hurt his party's chances in the next election, meaning the balance of power within a provincial delegation could be changed. But at the same time, as a senator is in for at least three terms, they would be able to do what is right rather than what is popular from time to time.

By giving the provinces an incentive to remove the senatorial clause, this proposal improves representation within the House. It also makes the Senate a potentially more effective chamber with far more diverging points of view and senators not accountable to the federal government. It also has an aspect of electoral support thrown in, giving senators greater legitimacy.

Is our current system dysfunctional? Perhaps not, and these changes are not required. But it is, I hope, an interesting alternative solution.

Over to you readers for comment and criticism!

39 comments:

  1. Interesting proposal. I just have one concern regarding the provincial senate appointees. Your solution to preventing patronage is to force parties to nominate their list ahead of the election. Would this work? What if everyone who won the election was an independent?

    I know we tend to focus on parties when electing governments, but we don't vote for parties but individual representatives. Are there enough rules around political parties to force them to have senate nominee lists before an election?

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  2. Do the Territories get senatorial representation in your proposal?

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  3. Would the senate's powers be solely suspensive or would they have a legal veto, as they do now?

    If they have the same powers they do now, then how does this really correct any problem? PEI goes from 4/308 to 10/100.

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  4. canadianveggie,

    That's an interesting question. In an unlikely case like that, I suppose a rule could be that in case of no party forming government, senate appointees must be named after the election and approved by the House of Commons.

    There are a lot of rules for parties (i.e., official status, questions, seats on committees, etc.) so it shouldn't be impossible. Elections Canada and its provincial counterparts would need to be given some official role in senate appointees.

    Kyle,

    No, but they could. But their level of over-representation is already high in the House of Commons.

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  5. Calivancouver,

    Another good question. That would be something to negotiate, I imagine. In return for direct influence, the provinces might give up some of the Senate's powers.

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  6. what is your view of how the 10 senators would be allocated within provinces? Do you envision they all have a territory/region within the province, or are they simply provincial representatives?

    I'd lean towards the second, without allowing a senator to be the senator from hamilton, for instance, or you run into questions about rep by pop again. (compare the regions 10 ontario senators would have compared to PEI)

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  7. Bryan,

    Yes, that's right, they would be province-wide representatives, though leaders could try to choose senators from different regions if they win subsequent elections.

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  8. The house already has representation based on region (ridings), and thus mps vote (or at least should) based on what is best for their riding. The Senate should be what is best for Canada, and it shouldn't make a difference if you are from Calgary, or Goose Bay, or Alert. Each party should just put forward a list and there should just be a national vote for senate, if you get 28% of the vote you get 28 seats if you get 2% you get 2 seats.

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  9. I'm not particularly supportive of your Senate proposal, as it would give the 5 smallest provinces an effective veto over the 5 largest - far worse than the current situation. A far more suitable method in my opinion would be the Penrose method (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penrose_method) which they use for allocating seats in the EU parliament.

    In terms of how to appoint the Senators, I think that the method used in India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_senate) would be far fairer. There, each state appoints Senators in proportion to the party standings within its own state parliament. It'd hardly be fair for the Liberals in Ontario to be able to appoint 100% of Ontario's Senators with less than 50% of the seats and less than 38% of the vote. Parties have formed government with as little as 22% of the popular vote in a provincial election (United Farmers in Ontario, 1919), and to give them the entirety of the Senate appointees is BS.

    The Irish Senate uses a pretty fair method for appointing Senators at a federal level as well.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_senate)

    Personally though I'd rather not see an appointed Senate at all. I think the Australian Senate (albeit with a more fair distribution of seats) or what's being proposed for the House of Lords in the UK would be far superior.

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  10. How would you define which party "wins" a provincial election anyways? Is it the party that receives the most votes, the most seats, or the party that forms government?

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  11. Ryan,

    The party that forms government. If it was a coalition, they would then choose from the senate nominees as part of the coalition agreement.

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  12. @Anonymous 14:09

    Closed list systems at that scale (100 seats at once) tend to have a pretty bad track record (ie Israel). I think you'd have to at least break things down in to more manageable numbers and use an open-list system like in Sweden or Denmark. I'd personally just prefer to use single transferable vote though.

    Fun fact: There are 10 countries with a higher GDP (nominal) per capita than us. Of those 10 countries, 6 also have less income inequality than us. All 6 of them use an "open" form of proportional representation (ie a PR system where voters get to decide the order of the list in some way shape or form). If we go by purchasing power parity, those numbers become 11 and 7, with the extra country (Australia) using single transferable vote for its Senate.

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  13. @Eric,

    Does that seem fair to you? And what if the party in government changes mid-term due to shifting coalitions?

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  14. The proposal is about compromise that can be acceptable to as many people involved as possible. Fairer systems can probably be devised, but whether they can realistically get through all the hurdles required to make such changes is another thing.

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  15. I don't think many people in Ontario or Quebec would find this acceptable Eric, and that's enough to block the change. I'm a huge supporter of having a reformed Senate, but I'd actually prefer the status quo or abolition of the Senate over this proposal. Sorry :(

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  16. If there's a genuinely fair and representative system put on the table, I think you could pass it with a national referendum. The one place you'd have to make compromises IMHO would be on composition - either with something like the Penrose method or with something similar to what the Conservatives did for the House. Either way though, if the Senate does truly get reformed I would hope that it would get its powers reduced to be more in line with the Senate in Ireland or the House of Lords in the UK.

    BTW, here's what the current Senate would look like if you directly elected half of them at each federal election under STV.

    CPC: 43
    LPC: 27
    NDP: 25
    BQ: 8
    Green: 2

    Though a lot of that LPC strength comes from being over-represented in the maritime provinces.

    If you used Harper's system for re-apportioning the Senate instead of just the house (ie with no province loses seats, set a max number of voters / seat and guarantee Quebec it's proportion of seats) what you'd get would depend on the ceiling on voters/seat you set. But with a minimum of 1 Senator per 400k people, rounded up you'd get:

    BC: 11
    AB: 9
    Ontario: 31
    Quebec: 30

    All the rest the same as they are currently. You could further round those up the nearest multiple of two (or 3 if you're going with 3-term Senators as you suggest).

    For the Penrose method (rounded to the nearest rather than up) and a roughly the same sized Senate you'd get:

    BC: 14
    AB: 13
    Sask: 7
    Man: 7
    Ontario: 23
    Quebec: 18
    NB: 6
    PEI: 2
    NS: 6
    NL: 5
    Territories (1 each)

    The Penrose method was politically feasible for a 27-member EU, and with perhaps some modifications for Quebec and a slightly larger Senate (so Atlantic provinces aren't losing as many seats) I think it would be politically feasible here. Harper's method has proven politically feasible for the House, so that would certainly be feasible here.

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  17. Eric I like your ideas for the HOC. I'd abolish the Senate.

    If we cold ever get something like this trough it might also be time to look at amalgamating provinces as well.

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  18. Excellent! Though 10 Senators per province might be to many.

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  19. So Ryan are you saying larger provinces are more important then smaller provinces, because I thought all provinces were equal?

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  20. Really great and well thought out. Here is my proposal.

    House - FPTP
    1. 1 seat per 100,000 people (rounded). If a province/territory has less than 100k - still 1 seat.

    2. Within provinces - the seats should be allocated to the census divisions proportionally to avoid over-representation of rural areas. If census divisions have less than 100k - combine 2+ into one riding.

    Senate:

    1. Elect with PR.

    2. Each Census division has 1 seat per 100k people. The seats are allocated to parties/independents based on percentage of vote (rounded down) in the FPTP ridings. Leftover seats are directly elected to be contested by independents only.

    Example:

    Toronto will get 25 house and 25 senate seats. Suppose the results are 8 CPC, 8 LPC, 8 NDP, 1 GPC than thats how it will work in the house.

    Suppose if you combine all the popular vote in the ridings and you have 40% LPC, 30% CPC, 20% NDP, 10% GPC; the senate will have 10 LPC, 7 CPC, 5 NDP, 2 GPC, and 1 IND.


    The same rules should apply to provinces but 1 MPP/MLA/MHA/MNA = 10000 people.

    This is fair in terms of equal representation. Of course it leads to a very large Ontario house.

    I'm also considering ranking candidates and/or splitting your vote % wise.

    I think your senate idea is a little to complicated. I don't see why PEI needs as much seats as Ontario.

    Your HOC way will lead to very populus ridings over time as the number of people an MP represents will decrease each time.

    For provincial houses in high-dense areas, mabye the 2 MPPs can be elected from a riding with 20,000 people to prevent too small ridings and giving second parties a voice.

    asdf

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  21. I appreciate your effort but this whole thing is so silly. It is already so hard to change what we are doing now you think your solution, which is even more complicated of a task to accomplish is going to work. Especially when the NDP and i think liberals are all in favour of abolishing the senate rather than making it elected and having basically 2 house of commons.

    Secondly, the idea of giving clout to the provinces by virtue of the senate is a lost cause because the senate really represents the federal government considering they are appointed by the PM. The provinces really don't matter (ironic eh!)

    I would rather see the senate slowly lose its powers by first having term limits so then it basically becomes more of just a rubber stamp for whatever the pm wants which is fine because then all that really matters would be the House of Commons. Eventually the senate would be abolished and it's powers transferred to the house.

    I would then prefer the liberals plan to keep a fixed number of seats in the house of commons (much like U.S.A, and other countries) but a hybrid of adding seats but then also making every district/riding contain more people so it is a slow expansion would be okay but eventually you will need to have a seat cap just for practical reasons.


    I really dislike the whole notion of representation by region like they do in the American senate. It is inherently undemocratic and just an old tradition of our past. If you read up on our founding you will realize that the founders looked at america's senate set-up and didn't want that but they still wanted something so that is why they assigned senate seats based on region rather than province. And also, it was one of the reasons why we had the foresight to add a clause for the queen to add new senators so that bills would not be held up like how they are in the states.

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  22. One look at the United States should be enough to illustrate the uselessness of a Senate with real legislative powers and the veneer of democratic legitimacy. Abolish it.

    In any case, I'd rather see the largest provinces split into pieces. Far better for national unity to have a more balanced political geography--and a few new francophone provinces--and far better for democracy to kneecap those premiers who think they alone can speak for an entire province. And it's just about as likely as reforming the Senate!

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  23. This Senate proposal looks *very* similar to things I've proposed in the past...

    However since my last proposal I've come to realize that the only kind of Senate Reform that Canadians would go with is the kind that made our Senate look like that in Australia.

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  24. Hi Éric,

    I'm apparently in the minority here, but I rather like your proposal. It's a clever way to balance provincial representation with federal prerogatives and it would certainly make for some interesting elections!

    I think there are some issues. The variability of 'term limits' is problematic. Under your system (if I have understood it correctly) Senators appointed during periods of frequent minority governments would have terms of only a few years, while Senators appointed during majority governments could serve for decades.

    This is partly because you didn't specify if a person would be limited to only three/four terms, merely that their 'class' would come up for election every third of fourth election. It would make for a very volatile system, especially if one or two provinces had a string of minority governments.


    Stemming from that, I think this proposal misses the mark on what the Senate ought to be. The Senate works best when it has *less* politics, not more. While your proposal is admirably democratic, it basically just makes a new, more complicated facsimile of the House of Commons. As K.M.H mentioned above, the Canadian Senate is not the American one and should not use the American example as a guide.

    Still, I appreciate the effort. It's nice to see some innovative proposals about Senate reform for once. Well done!

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  25. Eric,

    Let me get this straight, this is a proposal the reduces Quebec's representation in both the House and the Senate, and you expect it to fly? Granted, you could amend the constitution without Quebec's approval, but I don't see that happening, do you?

    Personally, I have a problem with the concept of an "equal" Senate, at least on the basis of provincial equality (yeah, I know, the Americans do it, but these days do we really want to be taking tips on governance from our US friends?).

    The original concept of "regional" equality was a rather elegant compromise on the part of the fathers of confederation. It recognized that provincial equality was not going to happen in a confederation dominated by Ontario and Quebec with three small atlantic provinces, but also recognized that the Atlantic provinces had their own distinctive voice, which might otherwise be swamped by the Canadian provinces. It ensured that small provinces with common interests (in 1867, the maritime provinces) would have an equal voice in the Senate.

    That being said, I think there is room for reform consistent with that principal. First, and foremoest, the Atlantic provices shouldn't have 30 seats, and NB and NS shouldnt have more senators than each of the four western provinces (each of which has a much larger population). But reducing the Atlantic provinces to 24 seats (6 each, maybe - with amendments to the senatorial clause to keep PEI from getting 6 MPs)) doesn't strike me a gross violation of the principles under which Canada was founded - quite the contrary, it takes seriously the notion of "regional" equality.

    Second of all, query whether it makes sense to appoint Senators on a province by province basis? If regional representation is what matters, should Senators be appointed on a region by region basis (West, Ontario, Quebec, East)?

    Or maybe we can look at regional representation differently. Why are Ontario, Quebec, East and West "regions"? That's a division that made sense in 1867, but in 2011, maybe those regions don't make as much sense now as they did then. Residents of Toronto and North Bay are both "Ontarians", but they have very different interest (and, in many respects, those of the latter might be closer to their neighbours in Manitoba, while those of the former might be closer to city dwellers in Montreal or Vancouver).

    Maybe we maintain the notion of "regional" equality, but redefine what a region is. So, instead of giving Ontario 24 Senators, maybe you give 6 Senators to 4 different regions within Ontario (North, East, West and South). You might make a similar division of Quebec, and split Alberta and BC into two regions, each with 6 senators (perhaps on a rural/urban split in the one, coast/inland split in the other) In that scenario, Manitoba still only has with 6 senators, but to the extent that the interest of Manitobans are more closely aligned with those of, say, Northern Ontarians, or inland British Columbians (at least a plausible argument), Manitobans would have more effective representation in the Senate (since they can find like-minded allies).

    The other upshot of such an arrangement is that, to the extent that it "over" represents, say, rural Ontario or rural Quebec in the Senate (as it would) it would take away the argument for the continued over-representation of rural regions in the house of commons. There's a much better principled case for saying that rural regions should be over-represented in the Senate (which is, after all, a body intended to represent the political minority), than in the house of commons (where rep-by-pop is supposed to be de rigueur).

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  26. Final comment from me at least...

    IMHO your proposal makes the House marginally more representative at the cost of making the Senate massively less representative. I don't see how that accomplishes anything good :(

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  27. I contend that we no longer need nor can afford the Senate.

    The Ontario idea of abolishing it goes far to produce a fairer political system !!

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  28. Anonymous

    I've privately advocated the same thing - give each party one senate seat for each full percent of the national vote they obtain. This would mean 90-some senators, comparable to today, and would give an outlet to something like the Green party when it was stuck at 5%, but flat nationwide, or help tide over the 16% of people who voted PC in '93.

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  29. Ryan, there is no particular reason for both the House and the Senate to be representative. The House makes the laws, so it should be, the Senate does not, so it does not have to be. Its currently level of representation is completely arbitrary, my solution provides some uniformity to it on the principle that provinces have equal standing.

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  30. By the way, I appreciate the feedback and the discussion, but a lot of the counter-proposals are more along the lines of what would be the best solution rather than what would be a solution that is realizable.

    If I wanted to reform the House and the Senate to whatever I thought it should be, I'd likely devise something different.

    Instead, I've attempted to devise a solution that could plausibly be agreed to by all involved parties. Some of you disagree about that plausibility, and that is the kind of discussion I was expecting.

    Making the senate directly elected, or having it use some sort of proportional representation is simply a non-starter. It's not the kind of reform that the provinces would agree to.

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  31. Great thoughts here Eric, but I have a couple concerns.

    First, you rightly recognize that the Senate, as the house of sober second thought should not and cannot be directly elected. However, the small degree of electoral oversight you include is still rather much for my taste. For starters, excluding representatives because they ran in an 'un-winnable' riding is counterproductive. George Brown had a terrible track record in elections, yet made a great senator. And I don't think anyone would argue that Ignatieff would make a poor senator, even though he got destroyed in the election. The senate is not about riding interests, so their affairs should have nothing to do with it.

    Second, terms. Tying Senate terms to regional government terms is a great idea, but the issue with minority governments there is a large one.
    I would suggest instead that senate appointments have to be passed through the provincial legislature (which takes some power away from minority governments) and then having a minimum term length for first term appointees only. This length should be the minimum time possible between elections in the case of a majority government, if there are rules regarding this in each province as there are federally. This way, senators have some job security.

    Finally, for the house, I really think we need to replace FPTP, but not with PR (which is a system with different demons) but with alternative/transferable vote. Anyone who understands all three systems would agree that alternative vote is the fairest, and is used in most private votes today. The only argument against it is that its complexity would make counting difficult, yet the Aussies manage just fine.

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  32. Ok breaking my own word from above lol.

    Eric,

    How is what you're proposing any better than the status quo? I would prefer both abolition of the Senate and the status quo to what you're proposing here I'm afraid. It's not just a question of this not being a "perfect but pragmatic" model of Senate reform. To me at least it seems like an outright bad model.

    I don't see giving everyone except the territories 10 seats as any less arbitrary than the current situation. In terms of powers, currently the Senate has equal powers to the House in terms of writing and passing laws. I know you're suggesting changing that, but I think you have to realize that so long as the Senate has any purpose at all, it will have at least some power and influence, and that power needs to be allocated in a way that is fair. Stephen Harper has even given us a model for allocating Senate seats that we know is politically feasible, which is adding seats to the fast growing Provinces and ensuring Quebec receives its proportion of the seats. If it worked in the House it can work for the Senate.

    On the appointment process, in seems to me that all what you're suggesting would accomplish is replacing a Senate of federal political parties' bag-men with a Senate of provincial political parties' bag-men. How is that an improvement? Why is this better than how things are done in India?

    In terms of the political feasibility of reform - politicians, provincial or otherwise, are responsive to their constituents wishes. A good example of that can be found with Christy Clark in BC. She personally opposes Harper's Senate reform, yet her government supports it due to British Columbians' overwhelming support of an elected Senate.

    You wouldn't be asking premiers to support an elected Senate or abolition. All you would be asking is for politicians to abide by the results of a referendum on electing, appointing or abolishing the Senate. Each premier would be free to campaign on whatever side he or she chooses.

    @Adam,

    "Finally, for the house, I really think we need to replace FPTP, but not with PR (which is a system with different demons) but with alternative/transferable vote. Anyone who understands all three systems would agree that alternative vote is the fairest, and is used in most private votes today" - I'd like to think I understand all three quite well. I do not think AV is the fairest. Open-list PR is much fairer and has far fewer demons than either AV or FPTP.

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  33. BTW Eric - you mentioned this isn't your own preferred model of Senate reform, just one you think is feasible. I'd be curious to see what your preferred model of reform looks like. My own love of all things procedural and these sorts of debates aside, you do have an excellent platform to share your views year. Why not push for the changes you think are best, rather than just a compromise you are not even particularly enthusiastic for?

    Cheers :)

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  34. " I would prefer both abolition of the Senate and the status quo to what you're proposing here"

    Let's face facts Ryan. Anything other than abolition ensures political inequality and unfairness.

    Plus ensures the continued existence of a class that is neither elected nor accountable.

    The only solution is abolishment !!

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  35. For redistributing the House of Commons, it would be unrealistic to have to go through the amendment formulas etc to change the rules so Atlantic Canada would not have so many extra seats. Adding new MPs would also be wasting money, so probably it would be best to leave the MPs at 308. That would mean the fewest possible seats for the territories and Atlantic Canada and somewhat more for the growing provinces.

    BC38 AB31 SK11 MB11 ON112 QC72 NB10 NS10 NL6 PE4 YK1 NWT1 NU1

    As for the Senate, probably it would be best if the sitting provincial government would suggest possible candidates for the Prime Minister to appoint (following the party label of the provincial government) and limit them to 3-4 terms. Therefore, it would prevent the sitting Prime Minister from stacking the Senate as no one party usually controls more than 6 of the provincial legislatures at one time.

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  36. Peter,

    "Plus ensures the continued existence of a class that is neither elected nor accountable." - An elected senate is by definition elected and accountable. That's what I'm advocating for. Though yes I'd reluctantly take abolition over the status quo as well. As I suspect you would take an elected one over the current situation.

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  37. No Ryan

    The Senate no longer delivers anything worth paying for. Abolish it is the only option.

    Anything else gives us a gerrymandered version of the US farce. NOT acceptable !!

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  38. As for that proposed Senate, another option I can think of:

    - Senate has 99 seats

    - 16 chosen by the federal government as now, 4 from Atlantic, 4 from Quebec, 4 from Ontario, 4 from the West

    - 2 chosen by each provincial government (total of 20)

    - 6 Senators elected from voters from each province, two every four years, for 12 year terms (total of 60)

    - 1 Senator elected from voters from each territory, every 12 years (total of 3)

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  39. Mathieu BOUCHARD29 November, 2011 04:11

    Representation by population is a potential scam. Permanent and temporary residents greatly inflate the number of persons per county, and when the number of actual registered voters is used for distributing the seats, then Québec already has less voting power per person than the average, so deserves an increase in proportion of seats. Go to the Elections Canada statistics and count the electors and see how totally different the correction of seats would be. Then tell me why anything else than the number of registered voters (or perhaps of citizens) should be used for making electoral map decisions.

    ReplyDelete

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