Saturday, February 10, 2007

Deforming The Senate

Reforming the Senate is a waste of time.

But Harper is pushing Senate reform , actually its more like deform, his proposal is that provinces hold Senate elections during Federal elections and then the PM would appoint the 'elected senators' thus avoiding a constitutional change, read constitutional amendment, is another Alberta innovation.

Quebec will never agree,
Que. says no to Harper's senate plan even though Alberta has already done this, which leaves eight other provinces open to electoral reform through the back door. And it is being rejected not only by Quebec but Canada's biggest province, Ont. minister dismisses Harper's Senate-reform plan

And it is being rejected even by the other Western Canadians; If the Senate mattered

The Triple E Senate originated in Alberta, and was a key platform demand of the Reform Party it is Harpers sop to his Alberta base the only province that has held Senate elections. And even those elections have lacked popular support, garnering as many spoiled ballots and abstentions as votes.

And who wants Link Byfield in the Senate, he and his whole family are representatives not of Alberta but the loony right.

That Harper continues to attempt Senate Reform by edict, misses the whole point of the Reform Movement in the West. It was about reforming the parliamentary system, but under Preston Manning it only went part way with the concept of the Triple E Senate.

Like vestigial useless wisdom teeth the Senate is the home of non-representative democracy, the last vestige of aristocracy, modeled as it is on the House of Lords. It represents the early parliament of landowners. You need to own property and be over the age of thirty to sit in the Senate, or to even run for the Senate.

We don't need to reform the Senate we need to eliminate the Senate and replace it with Proportional Representation, and a greater say in Ottawa. Senate Reform itself was realpolitik of the Manning reformers, they didn't think they could radically change Canadian parliamentary politics perse so they used Senate Reform as their hobbyhorse.

The reality has changed since the eighties and nineties, and PR is now on the agenda for the NDP and Greens and even members of the Liberals, Conservatives and BQ.

So instead of Senate Reform let's abolish the Senate and talk about real parliamentary reform including PR, recognition of municipalities as political bodies that pre-date provinces thus entitled to federal recognition as provinces are, recognition of Aboriginal Self Government, and a new federalism based upon constituent assemblies.

Now that would be radical reform.

The true sociological doctrines of modern times can be summed up in a few words: Recognizing that, in the political and temporal order, the only legitimate authority is the one to which the majority of the nation has given its consent; that are wise and beneficial constitutions only those for which the governed have been consulted, and to which the majorities have given their free approbation; that all which is a human institution is destined to successive change; that the continuous perfectibility of man in society gives him the right and imposes him the duty to demand the improvements which are appropriate for new circumstances, for the new needs of the community in which he lives and evolves.

1867 Speech of Louis-Joseph Papineau at the Institut canadien


Senate Reform

Abolish the Senate 1

Democracy Is Messy

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