Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Liberal's Alternative To Elected Senate

Looks like they'll come up with the lamest excuses just to explain us why we shouldn't have an elected Senate. Like this one:
Making the upper chamber elected could, in most aspects render the Senate a second House of Commons. It would be more likely to have proportions of senators similar to the House. In other words, depending on when elections were held, it could become obsolete, a simple rubber stamp to whatever legislation is put forward by the House.
Oh, really? First of all, let's remember that the House is elected using the First Past The Post system, while the Senate election would be held on the more proportional Single Transferable Vote system, which not only produces different outcome, but also - establishes different voting patterns. (Small party supporters wouldn't be afraid to vote their conscience.) So even if both chambers are elected all at the same time - they won't mirror each other.

But many countries that have an elected upper chamber, don't elect their Senators all at once; they usually elect one third at a time or half at a time. The Conservative proposal for a Senate reform would set an 8-year term for elected Senators, as opposed to the House 4-year term. Thus - only half of the Senators would be elected at a time. That way the House and the Senate won't mirror each other and the Senate would be exactly what we want it to be - a directly elected 'sober second thought' chamber that protects the nation from sharp turns when the government changes.

But the Young Liberal blogger believes he has a better idea:
Instead, one could change the Senate's powers, so that it does not have a veto as it does now. Instead, it could take on more of the characteristics of the UK's House of Lords, which only has the power to delay legislation for a 12-month period. This would eliminate the Senate's current absolute veto on legislation, while ensuring that it could limit the powers of the government.
Yeah, reducing the Senate's power to a mere 12-month filibustering would sure limit the power of the government. Hmm... didn't Brian Mulroney come up with a similar proposal back in 1984, when he saw no other way to overcome the Liberal super-majority in the Senate?

Now, let's imagine what the Senate would look like - a bunch of unelected, unaccountable politicians assembling, voting, presiding in commissions, working three-day weeks, taking 3-month vacations and 14-day long weekends, receiving 6-figure salaries regardless of their attendance and, in the end, making absolutely no difference in the nation's politics - how would you like that? If you hate a certain piece of legislation - would you want it defeated (or at the least - amended) or would you be ok with the bill you hate getting passed as it is, just after a 12 month delay?

If anything, the NDP proposal to just abolish the Senate altogether makes more sense than this 12-month filibustering Senate. The UK House of Lords is designed to provide token positions for the British nobility. But Canada doesn't have its own nobility. (Even if the Liberal elite, that believes it's their God-given right to govern this country, keeps acting like one.) The Senate is designed to give equal representation for Canada's diverse regions. And the best way to achieve this is by making the Senate elected, equal and efficient.

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