Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday special: a provincially elected Senate?

Bill C-7 establishes a framework for an elected Senate, limiting the number of years a senator can serve to nine. But by having senators chosen from a list of nominees elected at the provincial level and representing more than a dozen parties with opposing regional interests, the workings of the Senate could be substantially transformed – and chaotic.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website, part of a series of articles the Globe is doing on the Senate.

I'm not quite sure what is intended by Bill C-7 requiring candidates to be registered by provincial parties. Some provincial parties and elected senators might be very happy to caucus with the government of the day or a federal cousin, but not all of them would be. And their allegiances would be mixed. They would have more of a provincial mindset than the current crop of appointed senators, and would have no particular reason to be loyal to any of the federal party leaders. In fact, they might have very good reason to listen to their provincial party leader instead - if at the end of a nine-year term an elected senator hopes to run provincially (or for the Senate once more, I'm not clear on whether C-7 prohibits consecutive terms), they will need the provincial party leader to sign their nomination papers.

Provincially elected senators will not sit together easily. The government has not had any issue appointing those Alberta Progressive Conservatives to the Senate, since they can caucus with the federal Conservative senators. But what if a Wildrose candidate had won the senatorial election? And, more interestingly, what if both a PC and Wildrose senator were appointed to the Senate? Would they really want to sit together in the same caucus?

If Bill C-7 becomes law and the provinces go along, this probably wouldn't cause too much trouble in the short term with the Senate dominated by appointed senators sitting in federal caucuses. But once the number of appointed senators drops and elected senators with provincial party allegiances become more numerous, the tone of the Red Chamber would change dramatically. Would a B.C. Liberal senator side with the federal Conservatives or the federal Liberals? Where would Wildrose fall? Would Alberta and PEI PC senators see eye-to-eye on everything? What about Tory senators from Newfoundland and Labrador? Quebec Liberals? The CAQ? The PQ?

This sort of Senate sounds absolutely fascinating to watch, but I'm not quite sure how it would work in practice - if at all. It could be a moot point since Bill C-7 might never become law and all of the provinces might never go along. But it is an interesting thing to ponder, as this is what the government is proposing in its bill. Have the long-term implications of this bill been considered?

73 comments:

  1. I don't think there is actually any issue here. First of all, if the Senate nomination process is anything like the Alberta PC nomination process, what federal Party the Senator would caucus with would come up in the process. I think it would be very difficult for anyone who did not wanna caucus with the CPC to win a nomination in any PC Party or the Sask, Yukon, or Wildrose parties. Things could get interesting in the BC or QC Libs or CAQ, but for every other provincial party currently its pretty clear which federal faction would be dominant. Secondly, there's no reason to believe Senate elections would be done proportionally, they would probably be similar to Alberta, where the winning party would usually win them all unless a particular candidate is very popular/unpopular. I would be really surprised if any Party not currently represented in the HoC ended up with a Senate seat.

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    1. I didn't hand out the seats proportionately, I favoured the leading parties over second, and second parties over third, etc.

      I think that if senatorial races received more attention, you'd find fewer straight tickets. And think about close races - if in the last Quebec election eight senate seats were being contested, do you really think the PQ would have won all eight? I think that is highly unlikely. Also think of the recent close elections in BC, Manitoba, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. With a little extra attention being paid to the senatorial race, I think you'd often find a mix of winners.

      And consider the Alberta election: how many Liberal voters swung over to the PCs to block Wildrose? How many of those Liberal voters would have voted for a Liberal senator if given the option?

      Lastly, you have to remember that the slates would not be filled all at once. They would be filled as appointed senators retire, and as elected senators resign, die, or reach the age of 75.

      So, to use the Quebec example again, the province would have had three opportunities to elect senators in 2007, 2008, and 2012. In 2007, the ADQ might have gotten a few senators in. In 2008, the PLQ probably would have won most of the slots. And in 2012, the PQ would have taken the lion's share. So you have a mix of parties in the Senate, not just straight tickets from whoever won the last election.

      And I have to disagree that caucusing with a federal party would be a virtual requirement to get the provincial party's nomination. A Wildrose senatorial candidate is asking to be elected to represent the Conservatives, or Wildrose? And they'll be happy to sit with an Alberta PC senator when they are running a hard campaign against them provincially?

      Also, remember that after a while every senator would have been elected from a provincial party and the Senate would be seen more as a provincial body, rather than a federal one. I find it hard to believe that a senator from, say, Newfoundland and Labrador or Quebec would get very far because of a pledge to caucus with Alberta or Manitoba Tories, rather than to represent the province.

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    2. I'm quite skeptical that winners would be so mixed. The electoral system to be used is the Block Vote, where each voter gets as many votes as there are seats to fill. Almost everywhere in the world this system is used, each voter uses all his votes on his preferred party, and the plurality party wins in a landslide. Sometimes a single candidate for another party is very popular, so instead of a 12-0 result you see 11-1, but a truly proportional result is rare.

      If you think Canada will be the exception in this matter, and will have different results than the rest of the world, I'd be interested in hearing your reasoning.

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    3. It is quite possible that voters would elect a straight ticket, but because of the way elected senators would be gradually introduced into the Senate voters would never be electing a full slate of senators in a single block. So, the mixed identities could simply be the cause of multiple provincial elections with different winners each time.

      But I'd appreciate if you listed the countries where this block vote is used so we can verify your claim that they almost always have straight tickets. A quick Wikipedia search shows the countries using it as Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mongolia, Syria, Tonga, Tuvalu. You can understand if I don't consider their political cultures as ones that we can expect our own to resemble.

      I've brought up the 2004 Alberta senatorial election, where an independent candidate placed fourth ahead of two other PC candidates. If we look at Vancouver municipal elections, we also see that the winners can come from multiple parties. So I don't think this is a an outlandish claim by any stretch of the imagination.

      And even the Alberta senatorial elections show how voters don't always vote a straight ticket. The number of votes each candidate received were not identical - some voters were apparently not handing out all the votes they could or were not voting a straight ticket. If we had an election where two or three parties had similar numbers of votes (like the last Quebec election, or the next Ontario election, based on the polls) these small variations could make all the difference.

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  2. Eric (from your Globe and Mail article)
    "To get an idea of what such a Senate might look like, I allocated the Senate’s 105 seats proportionately according to the results of the last election in each province, always rounding-up. That has the effect of giving more popular parties more Senate seats than they would otherwise receive. As Bill C-7 stipulates that voters select from a list of names, voting for as many candidates as the number of nominees that need to be selected, this would seem to be a plausible assumption."
    I do not think it would be a plausible assumption. One only has to look at the Alberta results. There was no proportionality there. It was 100% for the Progressive Conservatives. With about 40% of the vote they got 100% of the nominees (only 3 were up for election). Basically it will be block voting. And as shown in the US for their electoral college, if one wants to increase the clout of a province that is how a province would organize an election. It would effectively be a first past the post province wide. In that kind of scenario based on the last elections the PQ would have gotten 24 seats in Quebec and the Liberals would have gotten 24 seats in Ontario. That is the more likely model to look at. And personally I don't like it. By far the better proposal the government put forward was their previous bill (C-20) which did apportion them on a proportional basis.

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    1. See my comment above, particularly in terms of Quebec. The popular vote result was 32% PQ, 31% PLQ, 27% CAQ. I don't think the PQ would win all 24 slots in such an election.

      I think that, with such a different complexion for the Senate and with all parties running candidates (the NDP and Liberals did not in Alberta, for instance) voting behaviour would be very different from what actually happened in Alberta.

      Also, look at the 2004 senatorial run. An independent candidate placed fourth, ahead of two PCs, and that in a general election that the PCs won by a larger margin than the 2012 vote. I don't think the Alberta examples (particularly considering that neither 2004 nor 2012 were close elections) are very instructive.

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    2. My view is that proportional representation is by far the best method for an election to the Senate and as an exercise you have shown what it would look like with provincial parties in the mix. However bill C-7 allows any province that wanted to, to devise their own method of election. Based on the Alberta example a province, particularly Quebec would use the block voting method. It would be construed as democratic but would be like the bulk of elections for the Electoral College in the US. The winner would take them all no matter what the plurality. And in the percentages that you give, Quebec had the plurality and would take them all. In Alberta they basically have that form of election. It was 40% of one big constituency and the PC's took them all, the other 60% got nothing. In Quebec it would be 32% for 24 Senate nominees and 68% with nothing. It would be the same system as in the US. President Obama got a very close plurality of the vote, but the electoral vote (based on block voting) gave him an overwhelming majority.

      If all parties ran for the Senate in 2012 in Alberta, I think the likely scenario would mirror the results of the provincial general election. PC's 44%, Wildrose 34%, Libs 10% and NDP 10%. The same thing would have occurred, the PC's taking them all.

      And yes, in 2004, an independent placed fourth. But my recollection is that he was a Progressive Conservative in all but name and was elected as if he were one.

      The other valid point that you make is that currently the nominees are not summoned to the Senate at the same time and therefore the mix will be different. That could be true if the provincial government changes from one election to the next. The likely result, however, would be that if a party was successful in winning two full terms, all the nominees would be from that party. The province could set up a system where all the nominees would be valid for 8 years for instance.

      In any event, it would be interesting if you showed how the Senate would have looked if block voting was the method of election in the provinces.

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  3. Look at the total mess in USA with a D Senate and an R H of R. Total mess. Why would we ask for that? Provinces work perfectly we'll on unicameral basis. Abolition is the only way out. There is no need to represent provinces, only citizens.

    George Orwell.

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  4. Given that the Wildrose Party likes to think they are closer to the fed CPC than the PCs are, they would absolutely pledge to caucus with the CPC, like they all did. It doesn't seem to be causing any serious problems to have AB PCs sitting with Wildrose supporters in the CPC caucus, remember a lot of AB PC and Wildrose activists get together to support the same CPC and municipal candidates, so there are a lot of friendships across party lines, including amongst candidates. In a Party like the AB PCs or the Sask Party, where 10-15% of the activists are fed Libs, the dominant CPCs would make sure that noone who would caucus with any other Party would ever win a selection. The last thing the PCs wanna do is give ammo to the Wildrose to claim they are actually Liberals. Claiming the "so and so might caucus with the Liberals" is probably the best way to attack someone competing for the nomination in those provinces (although I'm more familiar with AB provincial politics than SK).

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    1. You are still assuming that there would be Conservative senators in the Senate to caucus with. Eventually, under this system, there wouldn't be. Each senator would have been elected under their provincial party banner. What then?

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    2. Yeah I'm assuming that, because the Conservative Senate Caucus would continue to exist as an institution. It's not like a younger version of Bert Brown would wake up one day and decide that based on how the colleagues he had been caucusing with for 8 years had been elected, he might as well go back to calling himself a Reformer. The gradual election of Senators would cause the newly elected minority to integrate with the existing caucus, no matter how those existing caucus members got there in the first place. In most provinces almost all of the people who might run for Senate as a PC (or Wildrose or Sask Party) are already active and prominent federal CPC supporters, it's not like they go to Ottawa, see all of the MPs they support and are usually buddies with, and say "wait a minute, cause of how I got elected I'm not really with you guys"

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    3. I think that is a very big assumption, as over time the Senate would become more of a provincial body rather than a federal one. As soon as any issue pits region against region, senators will have far less reason to side with the government than with the constituents who sent them to the Senate in the first place.

      These senators will have been elected as part of a provincial campaign. It seems like quite a stretch to assume that they will automatically forget that and incorporate themselves into a federal party in Ottawa. Why would they?

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    4. It's unclear if someone can seek re-election, but even if they can 9 years is a long time. I would therefore think elected senators would not feel particularly bound by party unity.

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    5. I foresee caucuses and sub-caucuses. You'll likely have a somewhat solid Liberal and Tory caucus, but, from time to time, and on issues specific to various provinces, I'm willing to bet that all senators from that province will break with their political caucus to vote with their geographic caucus.

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  5. The European parliament is probably a good model to look at here. MEPs are elected under their national party banner, but join one of several groups once they get to Brussels, and appurtenance to groups is fluid.

    It does happen that parties competing against each other end up sitting in the same caucus - in the 2009 election in Italy, for example, the Union of the Centre party, in opposition to the Berlusconi government, won seats, but ended up sitting in the same European People's Party caucus as parties from the Berlusconi coalition.

    There are also competing groups for shades of the same ideology - there's the pan-european EPP, but the UK Conservatives and several smaller eurosceptic eastern european parties have broken away from it to form the European Conservatives and Reformists.

    What I can imagine happening is a group for the more right-wing Conservatives (Wild Rose, Sask, Manitoba and Ontario PCs, some but not all of the other PC parties), a centre-right "liberals" group (BC Libs and PLQ, with maybe the Alberta and some of Atlantic PCs joining), a centre-left Liberals group (Ontario and Atlantic Liberals), and a group of New Democrats.

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    1. I was thinking about the European Parliament as an example of how it might work in practice...

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  6. Great post, as usual.

    Should this pass, the NDP shouldn't run any candidate for any senatorial election, as they are for the abolishment of the Senate.

    The Bloc is also opposed to the Senate, but I don't know about the PQ.

    I see this future Senate as either Tory or Liberal minorities, possibly Tory majorities every once in a while, with very few Liberal majorities.

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  7. It's worth noting, also, that Quebec senators are explicitly regional (only province to do so). Therefore, I would suggest that they would end up actually creating "senatorial districts", rather than having province-wide elections. Quebec senators must, in fact, own property in their division.

    Of course, the divisions should either be modified or removed, because the definitions haven't been changed in over a century, and they don't include anyone from northern Quebec.

    Still, the idea of internal regional representation might reasonably be adopted by some provinces.

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  8. What's wrong with just abolishing the Senate??

    Doesn't do anything worthwhile any more.

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    1. I would certainly prefer abolition to making it an elected body.

      I don't think the Senate, as it is, is useless, but I do fear the consequences of granting it democratic legitmacy.

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    2. You'd be surprised. A lot of what the senate does happens behind the scenes in committees or on technical legislation that elected MPs can't be bothered to read. Partly because they are appointed and are senators for so long, Senators often build up a great deal of technical expertise as legislators, which is often lacking in elected officials. As a result, apart from their role in fixing defective legislation, their play an important role in policy development (and if you look at some of the reports that have come out of the Senate over the past decade or so, on subjects as varied as medicare, the military, and poverty alleviation, you see that some Senators (not all of them, to be sure) do great work.

      If anything, that's my concern with the proposed reform, that the positive attributes of the existing senate will be lost.

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    3. Constitutionally its virtually impossible.

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    4. And the Senate is anti-democratic on a more fundamental level. It's not merely a matter of being elected or not, it's that the House of Commons ought to be sufficient to represent the people; the function of a second chamber is to provide a corrective to the will of the people as represented in the Commons, in other words, to set a higher authority over the people. Notice that there are no schemes - even for an elected Senate - that propose the same level of representation as that of the House... in fact, any that did would be rightly acknowledged as redundant. Instead, the Senate is always seen as being more exclusive than the House. It's on that basis (at least partly) that many call for the abolishment of the Senate.

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    5. "[T]he function of a second chamber is to provide a corrective to the will of the people as represented in the Commons, in other words, to set a higher authority over the people".

      This is fundamentally wrong. The reasoning behind upper houses in general is to act as a brake upon the popular will of the people. What is in someone's personal best interest or even rational interest is not necessarily in the collective or long-term interest of the people. As we often see after elections people are not adverse to changing their mind and setting their city, province, country on nearly diametrically opposed policy direction.

      Taxation in Alberta is a case in point. At present taxes are too low and hence the Province runs a deficit. On a personal level (especially if you're from another province and want to move back) low taxes are rational. However, from a communal or long term point of view low taxes will inevitably lead to a deterioration of services over the long-term.

      In many ways the Senate is viewed as less exclusive than the House, the difference in representation is based upon regions and therefore there is no need to have similar a similar level of representation.

      -Beauchesne

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    6. "And the Senate is anti-democratic on a more fundamental level."

      Perhaps, but remember, Canada isn't simply a democracy, we're a (small l) LIBERAL democracy. Democracy requires we respect the will of the people, small-l liberalism requires that we recognize and respect the rights of the political minority. The Senate and the House of Commons are intended to reflect those two facets of our political identity. The latter represents the majority (or, at least, the plurality), while the former represents the political minority. Or so goes the theory.

      Saying the Senate is anti-democratic doesn't get you very far because it wasn't intended to be a democratic institution. Put another way, you won't find many serious critiques of the practice of appointing Supreme Court Judges, and yet they have similar powers to the Senate to quash popular legislation. Saying that the Supreme Court is anti-democratic isn't much of criticism - it's supposed to be. (In fact, one argument for abolishing the Senate might be that the protection of the political minority is better served by the courts than by the legislature. I don't know if that's really true, though).

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    7. Anonymous 15:35,

      "The reasoning behind upper houses in general is to act as a brake upon the popular will of the people."

      That is precisely the point I made. A corrective to the will of the people. You then say :

      "What is in someone's personal best interest or even rational interest is not necessarily in the collective or long-term interest of the people."

      And the question that should immediately arise is, who decides what is in the best interest of the people? If you seriously believe in democracy, the answer has to be, the people themselves.

      Bob, I agree the Senate wasn't intended to be a democratic institution. Therefore, it should be scrapped. And the only minority the Senate has reliably protected is, as "George Orwell" quoted above, the minority of the privileged. In fact, when properly functioning, the House of Commons represent minorities – and better than a Senate ever could, though still far from an ideal. The comparison with the Supreme Court is not apt, because the Supreme Court isn't in the business of creating law or policy. The Supreme Court is meant to rule on law and policy created by the government, i.e. the people. They are appointed, just as senior civil servants are appointed, to carry out the wishes of the people.

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    8. chimurenga

      Absolutely agree and say "well put" !!

      So lets get on and abolish the Senate and save that $109,000 we pay each of them every year. Plus expenses of course !!

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  9. This might make it worthwhile.

    You know, direct provincial-federal relations.

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    1. There used to be these things called First Ministers Conference, but the Harper Conservatives haven't bothered to show...

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  10. John A Macdonald said " We need the Senate to protect minorities

    and there will always be fewer rich people than any other class".

    George Orwell.

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  11. "To get an idea of what such a Senate might look like, I allocated the Senate’s 105 seats proportionately according to the results of the last election in each province, always rounding-up."

    I wish that were the case. The original Senate Reform bill specified STV, which would have given proportional results. The current bill specificies block voting, so if everyone voted along party lines, the most popular party would take every seat. In practice you'd get one or two candidates from the second party through, but not many.

    So in the last Quebec election, the PQ could have potentially taken every Senate seat.

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  12. "The government has not had any issue appointing those Alberta Progressive Conservatives to the Senate, since they can caucus with the federal Conservative senators. But what if a Wildrose candidate had won the senatorial election?"

    Éric, seeing as the Harper Conservatives as much as openly back the Wildrose Party, surely the awkwardness would more readily arise if an Alberta Progressive Conservative were elected...

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  13. What's most objectionable about this proposed reconfiguration of the Senate is that it has the effect of centralising and reducing regional/provincial representation. As things stand, Canadians have representation nationally via the Commons, and regionally via provincial and territorial legislatures, and this representation is based on similar electoral procedures. Until recently there have been both formal and informal means for representatives of both levels to work together. Bill C-7 would provide a mechanism whereby regional representation would necessarily be reduced (fewer Senators than Provincial/Territorial legislators) and centralised (Senators being physically further removed from their constituents). This centralisation also holds the risk of reducing the means to address region-specific concerns.

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  14. I posted this on the reddit thread for the article, but I think it's worth reposting here:

    When asked about Senate Reform at the Liberal convention Stéphane Dion gave three criteria that a Senate Reform proposal would have to satisfy in order for him to support it:

    1. There needs to be a clear mechanism of resolving disputes between the House and Senate. With only the House elected, by custom the Senate generally defers to the House. This would not necessarily be the case of the Senate also has a democratic mandate.

    2. The Senate should serve a different purpose than the House, and whatever method of selection is used for the Senate should serve that purpose. There is no sense in creating two House of Commons.

    3. Alberta and BC are massively underrepresented in the Senate. Senate Reform should include increasing BC and Alberta’s representation to better reflect their population

    I personally think Australia has some pretty good examples to apply to points 1 and 2, and the EU has some that could work for number 3. Either way though, I think Dion’s points are a pretty good starting point for people on any part of the political spectrum. Realistically, this is going to need a constitutional amendment, and it should be well thought out and

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    1. In Australia mechanisms do exist for resolving disputes, a joint sitting of Parliament, dissolution or a double dissolution.

      It is interesting to note that when conflict did arise on the budget in 1975 the Governor General sought the last option instead of convening a joint sitting.

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    2. Actually they tried the joint sitting first. The funny thing was that in the 1974 election Labour got just over 51.7% in the House and just under 50% in the Senate. So the same people voted in two different parties in two different chambers at the same time. :/

      Labour had a 1 seat majority in the House, but the Liberal-National coalition had a 2 seat majority in the Senate, so a joint sitting still failed to let the Labour government pass its budget.

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    3. Ryan,

      As far as I can tell there has only been one joint sitting, August 1974. It passed legislation regarding elections and medicare. The constitutional crisis and dismissal happened over a year later in Oct-Nov. 1975.

      Upon further investigation it appears there are set criteria for joint sittings that may have not been applicable in 1975. Based on my reading of the constitution s 57 a joint sitting can not be called unilaterally by the Governor General.

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    4. You may be right actually. I know it was considered - they may not have bothered since the opposition would have still held a majority in the joint sitting, as they did in the Senate.

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  15. There is a temptation for political junkies to go geekie about a new Senate when the only real democratic answer is abolition.

    G O.

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    1. Agreed. This is what happens... people get caught up in the details and lose sight of the fundamentals.

      One example. Ryan says :

      "Dion’s points are a pretty good starting point for people on any part of the political spectrum."

      But on the face of it that is not true, since the NDP favours abolishing the Senate altogether. Another effect of the Harper governement's tinkering - an effect they are surely aware of - is that it forces the NDP to either give up their principled stance against the Senate and join in, or to become more meaningfully disenfranchised than now by not participating.

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    2. chimurenga,

      I am befuddled why you would think the Tories should take the NDP's point of view into consideration?

      They can not become less enfranchised than they are now since at present they have no senators nor any right to appoint senators.

      Beauchesne

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    3. Beauchesne, it's not that I expect the Conservatives to take the NDP's position into consideration, I’m a political realist. But they ought to take everyone's position into consideration. The Conservative government shouldn't be merely the government of those who voted for them (or, more realistically, those who bankroll them), it ought to be the government of the whole country. It would be refreshing if they would act accordingly.

      The NDP (and, more importantly, many Canadians) can be less enfranchised than they currently are simply because the current Senate doesn't have much of an impact on policy. The Conservative’s proposed Senate would have a much more significant impact, so the effect of not being part of it would be exacerbated.

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    4. chimurenga - I'd be fine with abolition myself too. Trouble is that in order to abolish the Senate you need the support of the House, the Senate itself as well as all 10 provincial legislatures. I don't see that happening in my lifetime or yours, particularly given how advantageous the Senate is for the Maritimes.

      Senate reform would only require 7/10 provincial legislatures. That's still pretty hard to do, but at least it may be possible.

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    5. I completely agree you with that the current proposals only make things worse though.

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    6. Well chimurenga,

      How can you argue that remaining outside an institution would make someone less enfranchised? Even if this was a valid argument it is still subject to free will; the decision to remain outside is an effective use of the franchise-a political decision! Finally, the franchise does not apply to political parties only individuals. Therefore, expanding the franchise to include voting for senators undoubtedly expands the franchise.

      If the NDP acted as the Opposition for the whole country perhaps I could sympathise. Instead they seem content to side with those who would dismantle Canada. How any federalist could think much less believe the NDP Bill to replace the Clarity Act is anything but an abomination is beyond me. Or that a single vote would be a clear answer to a clear question. Such reasoning is absurd and would likely be ultra vires as per the Supreme Court reference.

      As for enfranchisement; the NDP would have the Quebec Court of Appeal rule on the clarity of the question instead of the elected House of Commons! Such a move restricts and belittles if not outright negates the franchise of all Canadians by placing perhaps the most important decision in Canadian history outside the elected political realm. I sincerely wish the NDP had taken all Canadians' preferences into consideration instead of disregarding the vast majority to satisfy fair-weather political supporters.

      -Beauchesne

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  16. If a new elected Senate is created and has real power, the BOO will have to participate while continuing to favour abolition. It is kinda like the NW running for parliament or the Scots Nats.

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  17. BOO is NDP (spell check) NW is BQ

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    1. I was wondering about that. Odd autocorrect.

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  18. As a Dipper, I actually support a Bicameral house with the Commons and Senate.

    The Senate is always described as a camber of sober second thought, I don't really see a reason to oppose its being. My major issue is it composition being unequal and it being filled with political friends and failed MPs.

    Making it an elected body make on effect one side of the problem, ie. appointments. the Problem remains that there should be equal numbers of senators from each Province say 10 per and maybe 2 or 3 for every territory.

    However like Mr. Dion noted there are other issues that need to be address if you plan to make the senate elected.

    my wish list would include

    -The ability to send back bills to the house for more debate if the majority voted fore it.
    -The ability to stop, strike down or change bills on constitutional ground with a super majority; 2/3 or 3/4 of the senate (re-approved by the Commons).
    -The inability to propose new bills, effect motions of confidence or effect foreign policy and the budget bills.
    -Senators can not be made PM and can not run to be an MP for a least 1 senate term after they leave the senate.

    there are many other issue over senate reform that would have to be addressed, but all of this means a constitutional battle. Which as many know is the great unfinished business in Canada.

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    1. Bi-cameralism means two chambers: Accordingly it would be impossible to have a bi-cameral House.

      The Senate may already send a bill back to the House.

      The Senate already has the ability to amend or defeat Bills. In addition it would be very unlikely a Bill would go before the Senate if it had not already passed the Commons. There is no reason for the Senate or Parliament to strike down a bill on "constitutional grounds" it is the purview of the courts to do so. The reasoning for voting for or against a particular motion or Bill is idiosyncratic and no reason need be given.

      The Senate can not pass confidence motions. The Senate can not introduce money (budget) bills and has no say regarding foreign policy which, is the exclusive domain of cabinet or the Crown.

      Senators can be made PM however, it is very unlikely to happen again except in an interim position. In 1940 George VI picked Winston Churchill instead of Lord Halifax to be PM as he thought it improper to have a peer as government leader in war. Since, that time a convention has developed whereby the PM must be a member of the Commons or become a member at the earliest available opportunity. Sir Alec Douglas-Home subsequently disclaimed his peerage and seat in the Lords to run for Parliament.

      -Beauchesne

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    2. I know they already have most of the powers I was describing, however they rarely if ever use them.

      The most notable exception bening in the late 80's and early 90's on free trade and the GST, the again in 2010 to stop a bill limiting greenhouse gas.

      An elected senate would have a better mandate to send back and change bills that are not in the interest of the nations. As it stand they are a rubber stamp on divisive policies or are used to support the reigning governments political position.

      The problem with an elected senate is they would be just as fractured as in the US as parties use a hold on one chamber to block the other.

      A possibility is to bar party affiliation in the senate to prevent whipping. Or having provinces legislatures appoint MPP/MLA/MNA's to the senate.

      The point of an elected senate should not be to use it as a cudgel against the House.

      Delete
  19. If you cannot get the required support to abolish the Senate, then the best course is to leave it alone.

    Harper and the old Reform gang hated the rep by pop aspects of the House of Commons arrangement and longed for a forum of EEE where Alberta would have more clout with some other western influence. An American Senate was the goal, 10 Senators from each province to outweigh the socialistic Ontario-Quebec axis.

    Ironically the American Senate is Democratic while the House is Republican and Harper won in the HofC.

    Is anyone carving EEE in cornfields any more?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do realize that the region that gains the most from EEE (the Maritimes) is one of the regions most hostile to the Tories, right? Or that Albertans make up 11% of Canada's population and would only get 10% of the Senate under EEE?

      I don't think EEE is a good idea either, but I don't think this is a very credible argument against it that you're making.

      Delete
    2. Under the Preston Manning model, a triple EEE Senate, every province would get 10 Senators. Does that make any sense to anyone? 10 for Ontario and 10 for PEI? OMG.

      Any formula must represent the popular vote exactly, not sort of, exactly.

      There is no place in democratic politics to represent anything but the popular vote.

      I have had this arguments with Dippers from northern Ontario who say their seats, larger than France, are too big.

      I have said, "you don't represent rocks and trees, you represent people and in fact you are way overreprsented.

      My proposal to the DR committee in Ontario was to create 10 seats in Ontario. Each seat would have 10 members elected in a PR fashion. Parties would get one seat for every 10% of the vote they get, last seat decided by rounding.

      Example:

      NDP 32% Liberal 19% PC 41% Green 10%

      Seats NDP 3 Liberal 2 PC 4 Green 1.

      Delete
  20. I've done things like this previously. Frankly, I don't think Wildrose would sit with the Tories, but, I think both the BC Liberals and the Quebec Liberals would be willing to, *willing* that is.

    I suspect that the BC and QC Libs would form an informal coalition with one enough to back whomever is in gov, the Grits or Tories.

    However, I can't see the NDP running for Senate seats, and, I foresee a depressed turnout for non-Tories in the first election. The end result is probably a bare majority for PC-Tories

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  21. There is no contradiction in opposing the Senate, advocation abolition and running in elections if the Senate has real power. If the Senate has real power, the NDP WILL run for sure.

    George Orwell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really depends if the NDP is opposed to the Senate as currently constituted or opposed to bi-cameralism in general. If the former then there is nothing hypocritical about NDPers standing for election; if the latter then surely there is a contradiction between policy/ philosophy and practice.

      S. Knowles

      Delete
  22. Eric Bluntly

    I'm getting extremely fed up with this Anonymous BS. You had it turned off once, please do it again !!

    Others ?????

    ReplyDelete
  23. No political party in Canada is going to allow centers of REAL power to go uncontested.

    If the Senate developes real power, Mulcair can stand up and say" Notwithstanding the fact that we favour abolition, the required formula for its abolition is not available. As a result we are contesting every seat. " Nobody in the press gallery will even blink. If there are articles in the conaervative press, they wil be one day wonders.

    Some people are stuck on this idea that the NDP should not run for a political body it opposes. The BQ runs for parliament and was once the official opposition. So what?

    George Orwell


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the NDP or any party, runs for a political institution it opposes and has campaigned against then one may rightly ask how can they be trusted? The optics are simple: they say one thing and do the exact opposite.

      S. Knowles

      Delete
    2. A.D. Knowles that is just such nonsense I can't believe it. Separatists all over the world run for their national governments.
      There is no contradiction whatsoever between saying " we favour the abolition of the Senate but inches meantime, before abolition, since the Senate now has real power, we will be running for it."

      Everybody understands that.

      Delete
    3. So if a party or candidate campaign for one thing then do the exact opposite once elected they're not a hypocrite? Really?

      I am afraid to inform you it does not work that way.

      hypocrisy: the assumption or postulation of moral standards to which one's own behaviour does not conform. -OED

      At the very least the party would be guilty of breaking a campaign promise!

      Separatist who have philosophical standards and competence know there is a contradiction in achieving their goals through national institution that they oppose and receive a salary from. This is why Quebec separatists have traditionally not sat in the House of Commons and why Sinn Fein refuses to sit in Parliament! This is why the Parti Rhinocerous came about as a way to discredit the Canadian political system by making fun of it (Canada is so irrelevant it is a joke)!

      If one wants to remove themselves from national institutions becoming participants within those institutions is self-defeating; obviously the institutions must work or provide a benefit otherwise you would not be part of them. Similarly, any separatist who sits in Parliament must swear an oath to Her Majesty, how could that person advocate independence when they have already pledged allegiance to Canada? Either they have lied during the oath or they have lied subsequently whilst advocating independence~!

      So once again: If someone has taken an oath and lied how can they be trusted while in government? Their track record will be clear: they say anything to get elected then do as they please once in power irregardless of past promises. More than that they are ready and willing to lie to the people face-to-face.

      I would hope most Canadians place higher moral standards upon their politicians whether federalist or separatist.

      S. Knowles

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    4. S Knowles.
      You are 100% wrong. There is zero hypocracy in a decision to compete for and serve in the Senate if the decision is made that instead of abolition the Senate will be elected. An elected Senate is a totally different proposition than an appointed Senate. You must be the only person in Canada who would think otherwise.

      It will be obvious to everyone that you simply dont like the NDP and cant get past your partisanship and apply some logic.

      Delete
    5. Once again if a political party's official policy is for abolition yet, they run for elected office for the institution they want abolished; that is hypocritical.

      The solution is simple; the NDP may change their policy! The ball is really in the NDP's court and their position at present is clear: they favour abolition not reform!

      If the NDP ran for an elected Senate while official party policy is for abolition there emerges a clear philosophical contradiction! You must be the only person in Canada who would think otherwise.

      Why don't you read the NDP's policy statement on the issue? There is nothing about reform only abolition! The NDP is not interested in electing senators!

      It will be obvious to everyone that you (and the NDP) simply don't like logic and can't get past your partisanship and apply some reason.

      S. Knowles

      Delete
  24. Senator Brazeau throwen out of Conservative caucus !!

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  25. Who took an oath? It is a party policy. They xhange party policy at every convention. Ask yourself about other parties and GST, free trade, whatever. Your anti NDP partisanship is showing. The site is really about non partisan analysis not partisan shots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the site is about "non partisan (sic) analysis not partisan shots" why have you accussed someone of being biased toward the NDP?

      Delete
  26. The NDP is opposed to our present appointed Senate. They prefer to abolish the Senate. If they lose that long term battle and the Senate becomes an elected body with real power, the NDP would be insane not to run for every single seat. An appointed Senate and an elected Senate are simply not the same thing.

    Saying the NDP must not run for a new elected Senate is just plain goofy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. If "the Senate becomes an elected body with real power, the NDP would be insane not to run for every single seat".

    Perhaps, but, that is current NDP policy.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Policy changes at every convention for every party. New elected Senate = new policy. no problem except for people with a partisan axe to grind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the policy has been in place since the 1933 Regina manifesto.

      I think you are confusing the issue for the NDP both in 1933 and today. From my reading of NDP policy, both historical and contemporary; they are opposed to bicameralism in general not how senators come to office.

      I would be happy to explain the reasoning behind the policy but, please refrain from accusing me of being anti-NDP or partisan. I did not make the resolution or party policy- NDP members have done so. Currently they are opposed to the Senate regardless of how it is constituted. If you don't like it fine, buy a NDP membership and initiate some change! Don't shoot the messenger! I think it is a stupid policy!

      F.R. Scott

      Delete
  29. Everything you have said is of zero consequence. The also favour MMP but still contest elections under FPTP electoral system. the NDP will continue to propose abolition of the Senate and if Canadians decide to instead create an elected Senate, the NDP will contest Senate elections and the only person in Canada who with think there is a problem with that is you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Why on Earth would anyone think abolition is a stupid policy.? Appointed bodies are anti democratic. Elected bicameral legislatures are a formula for disaster. Why on Earth would California and Rhode Island qualify for 2 Senators each? Totally absurd. The NDP is 100% correct now and they will be 100% correct to contest an elected Senate.

    ReplyDelete

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